N.C. gay marriage amendment draws plenty of snarky online comments

The (Raleigh) News & ObserverMay 10, 2012 

The colorful, normally cheerful Facebook page called “Visit North Carolina” filled up so quickly with profane posts Wednesday that its moderator had to plead for a more civil tone.

Instead of posters who talked about how much they loved their cottage at Emerald Isle, hundreds of visitors went to the site, put up by the state Department of Commerce, to offer opinions about the marriage amendment approved by North Carolina voters Tuesday. The state became the 31st in the nation to constitutionally forbid same-sex marriage – prompting some to swear they’ll never come to North Carolina because of what they term its homophobia and denial of civil rights.

“North Carolina – keeping hate alive,” said a Facebook poster identified as Mike Schwandt, from the University of Minnesota.

A post from former Clemson student Paul Martin said: “So let me get something straight. I can marry my first cousin from Charlotte, but I can’t marry my buddy from Raleigh? One of those things makes no sense.”

(For the record, state law does allow marriage between first cousins.)

There were plenty of amendment defenders among the posters, too, making for some bizarre juxtapositions. In answer to the question, “What’s on your North Carolina bucket list?” a post that read “N.C. is the new Hate State!” was followed by “Love the Crystal Coast!”

Efforts to reach Department of Commerce officials were unsuccessful.

A myriad of social networking sites in the Tar Heel State and far beyond were burning Wednesday with mostly negative comments about the addition to the state’s constitution.

One notable contributor was Wake County’s former “American Idol” runner-up and current “The Celebrity Apprentice” favorite, Clay Aiken. He said he hates the amendment, but he still loves his home state.

“I don’t want people talking bad about North Carolina,” Aiken, who is gay, said in a phone interview. “I saw a lot of folks ... on Facebook and Twitter that were embarrassed to be from North Carolina or that people from North Carolina should be ashamed and embarrassed.

“And I think to myself, you know, you can be as mad as you want and think that all you want to, but you have to remember that 30 states did that before we did it and California was one of them. So you can kiss my foot if you want to talk bad about my state.”

The marriage amendment, proposed by Republican state legislators, walked away Tuesday with more than 60 percent of the vote statewide. Groups for and against the amendment campaigned hard, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on phone solicitation, yard signs and their own social networking sites.

National media including the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post presented online stories about the vote. And celebrities including Ellen Degeneres, Garry Shandling, Mia Farrow and Meghan McCain tweeted about the amendment’s shortcomings.

“Sad day in North Carolina North Carolina passes Amendment 1 banning same-sex union,” tweeted Zach Galifianakis, a movie star with North Carolina roots.

But some leaders who likely command far more respect among many North Carolinians spoke up in favor of the amendment’s passage.

“Passage of the amendment to the constitution of our state has now ensured that the definition of marriage, as the faithful and exclusive union of one man and one woman, and one which is open to the gift of children, is in accord with God’s design and in keeping with the very nature of this sacred vocation,” Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said on the website of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh.

The state leader of the Episcopal Church, which went through major upheaval over homosexuality in recent years, took the other side.

“I opposed it because I believe, as the scripture says, all people are created in the image and likeness of God and that all are therefore to be accorded the rights and dignity that befit a child of God,” said Bishop Michael B. Curry, on the site of the Diocese of North Carolina. “In like manner, those who hold a very different position are also created in that image – and deserve the same respect that befits a child of God.”

While supporters of the amendment celebrated, opponents tweeted about lawsuits and proposed actions such as “Amendment Two,” with the sole purpose of rolling back the marriage amendment. And the jokes kept coming, reverberating around the social universe, trying to bring laughs in the face of what many termed a bitter defeat.

“BREAKING: North Carolina passes amendment requiring Two Men and a Truck movers franchises to restructure as One Man One Woman and a Truck,” Triangle blogger Jay Cuthrell said on Twitter.

“Now I understand what the Wright Brothers were trying to fly away from,” tweeted actor Michael Ian Black.

And actor Eric Stonestreet, who plays one half of a gay couple on the hit series “Modern Family,” sent out a tweet that both criticized the amendment and took on another subject that many North Carolinians consider sacred: barbecue.

“Hey North Carolina your bans suck as much as your BBQ does,” said Stonestreet, who, for the record, hails from Kansas City.

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