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Showing posts from May, 2012

"We Look Like Mississippi"

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In a Greenville NBC affiliate interview, North Carolina’s outgoing Democratic governor Beverly Perdue said: “People around the country are watching us, and they’re really confused. To have been such a progressive, forward-thinking, economically driven state that invested in education and that stood up for the civil rights of people, including the civil rights marches back in the ‘50s and ‘60s and ‘70s — folks are saying, ‘What in the world is going on in North Carolina?’ We look like Mississippi.” Perdue was reacting to North Carolina’s 62 to 38 percent approval of a constitutional amendment to ban non-heterosexual marriage. On May 8, it became the 29th state to do so and the last of the Southern states - including Mississippi. Fair criticism? I don’t know. After all, she didn’t say: “We look as bad as the Magnolia State.” I live in Missouri, a former slave state that passed such an amendment by an even greater margin. Here state legislators scramble to outdo themselves for crazy. Th…

Marriage Amendments Threaten Religious Freedom

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There’s another argument to be made when people fight state and federal marriage amendments like the one just passed in North Carolina. It has the potential to take back the debate because it’s about the Constitution and the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom. There’s no doubt that the need for marriage equality is first and foremost about the civil and legal benefits that currently come with government recognition and approval of two people’s legal commitment to each other. It might be that the ultimate solution to the issue is to recognize marriage as only a civil issue with its legal benefits for everyone. Couples could then add the blessings to their union of a religious institution of their choice if they desired. Yet the history of marriage in US culture and consciousness is one enmeshed with religious images, sanctions, and overtones. That means that we must take those connections in American consciousness seriously. There is an established legal history in this …