OK, whos next?
Cmon, now. Surely you didnt think the people and groups that fought so hard to add the marriage amendment to North Carolinas constitution were going to stop if they won Tuesday, did you?
In the immortal words of Bobby Blue Bland, I pity the fool who thought that.
Emboldened and golden after their overwhelming victory in their quest to ensure that marriage shall henceforth be defined as between a man and a woman or a man and a woman and his lobbyist paramour when wifeypoo is back home with the younguns the conservative groups must now find new targets to go after, to impose their morals upon.
Nancy Petty, pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church and an opponent of the amendment, told me the day after it passed, I felt all along that the amendment at its core was not just about marriage.
It was part of a much larger political agenda that wants to harm not just the LGBT community, she said, but to write hate into our state and federal laws.
James Miller, executive director of LGBT of Raleigh, said he thinks amendment supporters will now set their sights on employment equality for gays. They claimed they werent opposed to gays, but to gay marriage. They said That word is sacred. Now they wont have that word to hide behind, he said.
Miller said his and like-minded groups will refocus on non-discrimination in the workplace. Thats going to be a big, big issue.
Its hard to imagine it being a bigger issue than the marriage amendment, over which emotions boiled for months. People on both sides were demonized by the other.
The Rev. Patrick Wooden, one of the staunchest and loudest amendment supporters, was often front and center on the issue. He was also on the front page of Wednesdays News & Observer, exulting in the victory.
Wooden, with whom I went to junior high and high school and who I consider a friend although we disagree on most things called several weeks ago to ask if I wanted to hear some of the hateful, threatening messages left by anti-amendment activists on his answering machine at Upper Room Church of God in Christ.
Nah, homes, I told him. I havent finished listening to all of my own hateful and threatening messages yet. For the people threatening him, though, heres some advice: I wouldnt mess with that dude if I were you.
It affects all of us
Even if you, like me, didnt feel strongly about the issue of gays being able to marry, you should feel strongly about peoples rights to live as they choose without being discriminated against. What two dudes, two women or even a man and his wife and a lobbyist do in private has nothing to do with me.
What the state legislature adds to the constitution, though, affects all of us.
Thats why it was distressing to see a majority of voters choose to add an amendment that will remove legal protections for some people.
Despite the rancorous rhetoric that preceded the vote, its hard to believe that most North Carolinians walk around all the live-long day thinking Gee, how can I ensure that gays cant marry? or Man, I sure hope they let them gays marry soon. Why should they be happy?
Most of you probably felt as I did while watching the Kentucky Derby last week: Despite all of the hoo-ha surrounding it, I didnt have a horse in that race.
Even if you didnt have a horse in the marriage-amendment race, though, what happens when the moralists set their sights on an issue that does affect you? What happens when they, for instance, seek amendments banning women from wearing six-inch pumps and inappropriately fitting spandex? Or one to ban people from waddling back to the buffet line at Golden Corral more than twice unless its to get some fruit?
What then? Ill be heartbroken, for one thing.
Then they came ...
Theologian Martin Niemoller predicted what will happen then when he wrote:
First they came for the communists, and I didnt speak out because I wasnt a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didnt speak out because I wasnt a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didnt speak out because I wasnt a Jew.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
All of you who so cavalierly watched as the denial of rights in our state was codified and made law had better think about that and about what the Rev. Petty said. This was not a theological issue; it was a legislative issue, she told me. The Bible is not our constitution. Thats not the way it works in America.
Nor is taking away rights the way it works in America. At least not until last Tuesday.