Thursday, May 10, 2012

What Now, North Carolina?

My colleague Mike Kinman, Dean of the Cathedral in Saint Louis, wrote a letter to the editors of his local papers and posted it on his blog, Come Together, with an explanation of why he had taken such a public stand on marriage equality. The post is worth reading and I posted comments which I share here with some editing.

I have already posted about the NC vote, expressing my view that fear was the motivator for many who voted for Amendment One. I hope that that two conservative mentors that Mike mentions in his blog post  would have opposed the amendment because of their awareness that an amendment of this sort about an issue where there is such a diversity of convictions is bad public policy. 

A few years ago someone writing in The Atlantic suggested that the best path for dealing with this marriage issue was through allowing the states to decide. We now have a handful of states trying what The Atlantic writer would call the marriage equality experiment and the results will be there for other states to see as they consider the question. (The divorce rate in Massachusetts went down a bit in the year after the Commonwealth got marriage equality.)

North Carolina has, sadly, locked itself into a position where changing its marriage laws will be much harder. The federal courts may end up declaring Amendment One unconstitutional, not the ideal way for change to happen, as it provides ammunition to those who enjoy attacking "activist judges."  If the Defense of Marriage Act is overturned and NC refuses to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were legally married elsewhere, there will be some couple who will sue the state in federal court. I would discourage any of the same-sex married couples that I know from moving to NC unless they want to engage in that kind of court case.

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