Gay bashing is easy, and gay rights is not a political winner. So in that regard, at least, state Sen. Jim Forrester of Gaston County has it all over President Barack Obama.
But Obama has a better understanding of what "equal rights" means and will be on the right side of history when it's all said and done.
Obama announced Wednesday that his administration would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Its provision that limits the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman is unconstitutional, Obama has decided.
One day earlier, Forrester and other N.C. senators were far more savvy politically. Forrester introduced a bill Tuesday that would amend the state Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman will be recognized in North Carolina. Voters would decide on the amendment on Election Day 2012, conveniently scheduled for when President Obama is up for re-election.
Were Forrester's amendment to pass, it could directly contradict at least three provisions in Article I of the N.C. Constitution. Article I, Section 1 says "all persons are created equal," "are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights," including "liberty ... and the pursuit of happiness." Article I, Section 5 says "Every citizen of this State owes paramount allegiance to the Constitution and government of the United States, and no law or ordinance of the State in contravention or subversion thereof can have any binding force." And Article I, Section 19 provides that "No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws."
Opponents of gay marriage have yet to explain what compelling interest of the United States is served by denying people basic rights. Conservatives as much as anyone should value strong, loving marriages and a government that stays out of people's private lives. If we're going to ban certain people from marrying, let's ban those who abuse their spouses or their kids and those who are on a one-way road to divorce, not those in a committed relationship who happen to be gay.
To read the complete editorial, visit www.charlotteobserver.com.