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May 16, 2012

'Merica, the beautiful

by Richard Chen, Online Opinions and Entertainment Editor
On May 8, we became less of a country as North Carolina passed a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Instead of America, we should drop the "A" and call ourselves "'Merica," a crude and tacky denomination of our country that better reflects dogmatic beliefs getting more weight than public opinion. With North Carolina's amendment, we give one more reason why European nations such as France, Portugal and Sweden think we're dumb.

People protests against gay marriage in North Carolina. Courtesy of AP
People protests against gay marriage in North Carolina.
North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage is disgusting, as it openly writes discrimination into the state constitution as if we never left the days of Jim Crow. Critics of same-sex marriage confuse their faiths and beliefs with what is supposed to be fundamentally given and that is the root of the problem; the religious elitism that runs through the veins of our policymakers. When these critics see, hear, breathe, touch or even smell something that is outside of their comfort zone, they just can't wait to say how offended they get when someone else has a different opinion. "Someone doesn't like using Google Chrome and uses Internet Explorer? Suspend their Habeus Corpus!" This is no better example than the politicians in the 1950's that created separate institutions based on color, but at least they had the courtesy to give them the right to marriage.

Critics also say that same-sex nuptials violate the sanctity of marriage, so there isn't any reason not to ban divorce as well. Ironically, a lot of heterosexuals treat marriage as a religious institution that binds two couples happily ever after, but can't deal with the ramifications of divorce and treat it as a civil institution that wrestles over the division of assets and property. At least in the United States, marriage isn't treated as seriously as it used to, so what's left to desecrate when we let in same-sex couples get married? In fact, because it's much harder for gays and lesbians to get married, same-sex couples would probably cherish and respect the concept of getting married more than most heterosexual couples out there. There just isn't a single bit of logic or sense in giving marriage to heterosexual couples that want to sign prenuptial agreements but denying it to same-sex couples that actually understand and weigh in the huge responsibilities of being married.

While Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities are certainly angry over this amendment, they aren't the only groups outraged. Many actors and high-profile celebrities took to the interwebs to decry North Carolina's amendment. Comedian and actor Seth Rogen was one of the many celebrities outraged on Twitter after North Carolina passed the law. "Claiming that someone else's marriage is against your religion is like being angry at someone for eating a donut because you're on a diet," he Tweeted. I see what you did there Rogen. Well put.

With the amount of outcry and reasoning against this constitutional amendment, it should get appealed to on the federal level so we can fix this injustice. However, with the amount of bipartisanship in our Congress, it might be some time before anything actually gets done. Until then, it would make sense that only in "Merica" do we acknowledge the violation of civil rights with the constitutional ban and it knowing that North Carolina has become one more state out there that is holding us back as a nation.

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  • Alex B. (View Email) on May 16, 2012 at 9:43 PM
    The dropping of "A" to leave "Merica" (or, more correctly, " 'Merica ") is a very poorly defended tangent to the actual content of the article, which is another run-of-the-mill rejection of limits on free exercise.

    Do not forget, however, that we are a democracy; the manner in which this measure was brought about, a public referendum, is as democratic as a state can get, and, apart from the Defense of Marriage Act, the issues of marriage lie in the states' hands. Let North Carolina be; as social culture continues its liberal trend, we are likely to see some federal legislation before 2050.

    In the same way that anti-gay religious citizens are angered about gay marriage because they believe (and you know how hard it is to disprove certain aspects of religion) that the consequences will affect all humans, even those who choose not to be gay, you are angry that NC's decision negatively affects the way we, as a country, are seen by the international community. In essence, your frustration is as justified as theirs, and hence neither of you is particularly correct (until, of course, we obtain concrete evidence that such views and values are more detrimental to us than beneficial).

    Or, better yet, I have a solution: the states which drag us down the intellectual ladder, i.e. those with heavy religious values (such as NC), shall secede from our Union and become the Union of Righteous States of America. Problem solved. I'll try to contain my sense of humor next time, but it's not easy.
    • Thomas M on May 24, 2012 at 10:09 AM
      I think you go too far when you say "your frustration is as justified as theirs, and hence neither of you is particularly correct."
      While Richard did not mention this in the article, it is accepted by mainstream psychologists that being gay is not a choice.
      In addition, the idea that allowing some people to be gay will affect the society is ridiculous. It is implausible, and unsubstantiated by evidence - scientific or historical.
  • yikes on May 18, 2012 at 6:07 PM
    the intent of this article was definitely on the write track, but there were a lot of silly errors that could have made it less offensive and infinitely better.
  • yup on May 18, 2012 at 7:20 PM
    They should concede again.
  • Frederic K. (View Email) on May 18, 2012 at 10:36 PM
    [woah, first time silverchips commenter...on the last week of school]

    First of all, I don't see what the hate on prenups was for. It seems unreasonable to expect two people to necessarily be married for life: people live longer now, and nobody has gotten any more psychic. Not that it's _bad_ to be married for life --- just, we shouldn't vilify the alternative, nor blindly assume that relationship problems will always "work their way out in the end."

    Now on to the meat.

    One of the purposes of our government is to prevent the "tyranny of the majority" (so says Tocqueville). To take a Socratic approach: if the majority of people agree that something is just, does that make it just? Obviously not --- if the majority of the people can be tricked into believing demonstrably false notions, we shouldn't also let them decide that genocide or slavery are in fact okay.

    One may argue that marriage is just a term, and thus it is no problem that gay people can't marry. This is a fairly popular opinion, given the level of support for civil unions in polls. However, if it just a term, why sweat the difference? A word is a word is a word: you're free to refer to your own marriage as heterosexual (or "classical," or "Limbaugh-approved," or whatever). If, at the level of government, homosexual and heterosexual marriages are intended to be treated the same, we should use the same word. We could use "civil union" for everybody, too, and leave marriage to people, their churches, etc. But separating the two serves only to confuse and suggest that officials treating the two differently is somehow okay.

    Homophobia is the bigger and more important problem. Still, the assertion of states that we should use gender-agreement as a benchmark for the value of a relationship remains absurd. We can't force people's minds to change, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't aspire to enact any change at all. Nor need we fall into the trap of believing that all opinions are equally valuable, and that our direction cannot be "correct." If virtue is not worth striving for, what is?
    • Thomas M on May 24, 2012 at 10:25 AM
      Speaking to what you were saying on the "tyranny of the majority"
      Part of what needs to be addressed is the issue of rights. Rights are just rights, they can't be taken away, and they can't be voted on. If 95% of people want to take away freedom of speech, then they shouldn't be able to.
  • C'mon Man on May 19, 2012 at 2:22 PM
    Manne, I hate gay marriage. Imma move to NC to join 'em.
    • matt (View Email) on May 20, 2012 at 3:48 PM
      your about it
    • Six-fingered Spencer on May 24, 2012 at 10:34 AM
      I just ran over a muskrat, we can cook it for lunch.
  • J. Neufeld (View Email) on May 20, 2012 at 7:59 PM
    "North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage is disgusting, as it openly writes discrimination into the state constitution as if we never left the days of Jim Crow."

    Here I think it is not the ban that evokes images of Jim Crow, but the mere fact that governments issue licenses to allow anybody (heterosexual, homosexual, or whatever else) to marry. The original reason that governments involved themselves in marriage was to prevent interracial marriage.

    The idea of "marriage" is whatever people claim. If I can find a Church, Mosque, Synagogue, or Vegas drive-thru who wants to proclaim me married, why not? The legal obligations of a marriage should be handled just like any other contract, notarized, signed, etc. But as to the social aspect, government should not be preventing blacks and whites to call themselves married to each other anymore than they should be preventing, or allowing anybody else.
  • just take a step back on May 24, 2012 at 3:21 AM
    God, I hate how close-minded the view of this article is.
    • Thomas M on May 24, 2012 at 10:03 AM
      "Being close minded" and "dismissing stupid opinions" are not the same thing.
      I did not read Anders Breivik's manifesto not because I am close-minded, but because I expected something poorly researched and discredited.
      Similarly, I do not listen to homophobes because I expect them to use the same discredited arguments they've always used.
  • lives in a world where if i say im ageinst or dont (View Email) on May 24, 2012 at 1:51 PM
    daughter-" Mommy mommy!!!!'
    lesbian couple- " yes?"
    daughter- "where's my father?!?!??"
    lesbian couple- "Don't you mean sperm donner 546?"

    you can marry, but when and/or if you have kids ,things will get complex. Two fathers can't teach their pre teen daughter about periods.
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