Last week I was asked how I was voting on the Marriage Amendment on May 8. I thought about just saying, “I would prefer not to answer,” and let it go.
There are many reasons for this reluctance. The first is the sage wisdom of not talking about religion and politics. Given my line of work, that is a no-go from the start. However, I usually refrain from random political discussions for the same reason most of us do — too much emotion and drama. And since they may not know my heart, they may misunderstand my words.
I replied that I voted against it. There was a bit of silence and then someone asked, “Would you marry two gay people?” I explained that the privilege of officiating at a marriage was given to me by the church and not the state. That comes with conditions, one of which is I am not allowed to preside at a union of a gay couple. And the state requires a license in order to be married and they cannot get one. End of discussion.
I appreciate the state allowing me to legally marry folks but I really could care less that I am given that privilege. I would rather the church and state be granted a divorce from that union. Keep them uniquely separate. If two people want to be legally married, first go the state, be joined in a legal civil contract, according to the laws of that state and then let the church celebrate the marriage covenant, according to their rules, if that is what the couple wants. Then marriage and civil rights could be divorced, a separation of church and state.
Then another person asked why I voted against it. My reply was simple but seems complicated. First, it is not possible for two gay folks to be married in North Carolina. They can’t get a license, period. To add another layer of prohibition is like shooting a dead horse. It will be no deader after the shotgun blast but some folks could get hurt in the process, which is the second reason.
So what about those folks; just who are they? Well, those closest are the men, women and children who are living in homes with domestic partners. They may lose the protections of the law relating to domestic abuse and other areas. In North Carolina, domestic partners are protected from abuse.
Domestic law professors concluded that passage of the amendment might put those people in jeopardy while the courts sorted out how to interpret the new law, as happened in Ohio. Those in favor of the amendment say it won’t. That is a risk I am not willing to take. Nothing is gained but a huge potential loss.
Another group of people are just tossed into the line of fire in shooting this dead horse. The underlying message to those gay men and women is written in bold and caps; gay and straight are not equal in the sight of the state and since many churches are on the bandwagon, the church.
That brings me to the primary reason I oppose the amendment. As I read scripture, there are many stories of how Jesus included those whom church and society would reject.
I know proponents have quoted scripture to support the legislation. If we used isolated passages from Leviticus, the same chapter that proof-texts homosexuality as exclusion, it would tell us to stop eating pork, start stoning non-virgin brides and rebellious teenage sons. I am personally grateful for the last omission.
So, it seems we need to take a look at what the Good Book is about. Jesus summed it up when questioned by a lawyer — yep, back to the law again. He said, you shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and then love your neighbor as you love yourself. He called them the first and second great commandments. In the Bible of my childhood Jesus’ words were written in red.
Tony Campollo says in his book entitled, Red Letter Christians, “Justice for gays and lesbians should be on the political front burner for Red Letter Christians on election day because it is impossible to tell people we love them if we deny them the basic rights we enjoy. And loving people — all people — is clearly preached in the red letters of the Bible.”
Ultimately, I voted against it and am writing this article because I think that is what Jesus would want. His love and his words were written in red, for all; even those who vote for or against an amendment to our North Carolina Constitution.
Rob Rollins lives in Wadesboro.