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My heart is heavy tonight, so heavy that I can’t think of anything funny or cheerful to write about. My state just voted in a totally unnecessary constitutional amendment–to ban gay marriage.

It is embarrassing to me to live in a state capable of doing such a mean-spirited thing.  It’s embarrassing to me that the people working so hard against the amendment had to point out how it would hurt not only gays but also  heterosexual couples–in order just to get people to listen.  It’s most embarrassing to me that the forces of ignorance and prejudice and bigotry won out, in the end, over the forces of open-mindedness, acceptance, and love.

I am ashamed to call myself a North Carolinian tonight.  And I can’t understand the vote–not at all. I don’t get it.  I don’t see how something this small-minded could get enough votes to pass.  I don’t see how anyone who thinks of himself/herself as a decent human being or a kind-hearted person could possibly vote for something that basically says to a neighbor, a co-worker, a colleague something like this:  “I may act like I like you, but when push comes to shove, I really don’t like you all that much–because in my heart of hearts, I am threatened by you.  You scare me, with the ways you are different from me, so I put up walls around my little, small-minded world, to keep you out.  I even think I need to change the laws of my state, just to make sure that you don’t ever have the same rights I have.”

We did this once before in our history.  This state’s legislators made special laws because of fear–fear that people that were different from them might contaminate their water fountains or swimming pools– fear that, worst of all, they might end up in their families.  Now we fear that granting gay people the right to be legally married (and have the protections that brings) will somehow hurt our own marriages.  (Maybe our deepest fear is that our children might turn out to be “one of them.”)  All I can say is, anyone who is that worried about marriage must be in a pretty shaky marriage to begin with.  We only fear earthquakes when we live on shaky ground.

In years to come–and I hope it won’t take long–maybe just long enough to get all the old dinosaurs out of office and get young people in there who have grown up in a world where being gay is, frankly, not that big of a deal.  Maybe then we will look back on this vote, and we will feel ashamed to be numbered among the states that felt they needed  a constitutional amendment to legitimize their own bigotry.  We’re bound to overturn this law eventually–because, in the end, justice usually does roll down like water–but what a waste, in the meantime.  What a hateful, hurtful way to treat our fellow citizens.  What a waste of time and money, to put up an exclusive, gated-community kind of law that says, “I claim God as mine–not yours.  My marriage is sanctioned by the Allmighty; yours isn’t–because I said so.”

I read an article in our paper recently about a local soccer star who was unable to come out of the closet while he lived in North Carolina, even though he was the star first of his local high school soccer team–and then of his college team.  It took moving to Canada, where he played professional soccer, and living in an atmosphere of acceptance, for him to finally be able to acknowledge his homosexuality to the world.  In the article, he urged people to vote against the amendment so that young people like him might not have to hide themselves–or their love– away.  How many more young people will have to suffer before we get the message?  How many more gay couples will have to hide themselves away?

My state has let me down, and I am heart sick.

My husband said tonight, “Let’s move to Canada.”  I’m in.

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