If the Defense of Marriage Amendment is opposed by both U.S. Congresswoman Renee Ellmers and
Self-Help Credit Union co-founder Martin Eakes, then you know the DOMA will be DOA on May 8.
Eakes leads an effort by more than 100 CEOs and senior executives in North Carolina to oppose the amendment partly because they see it as a job killer. Nearly 400 of the Fortune 500 companies, including three of the state’s largest businesses – Lowe’s, Duke Energy and BB&T – prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. And scores of major corporations in North Carolina offer gay and straight workers domestic partner benefits that Eakes says the amendment would curtail.
Rep. Ellmers, a Tea Party Republican, will vote against the amendment because the language is too broad and would harm her straight constituents. Her spokesman told the News & Observer, “As a voter, she would vote against a piece of legislation that would add a ban on civil unions to the protection of marriage since they are two different issues and should be dealt with separately.”
For that reason and others Ellmers also has the company not only of the N.C. Libertarian Party, but of other Republicans who call themselves Not Right NC (Republicans Against Amendment One) and have a website on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NotRightNC
How did the N.C. Republicans draft an amendment that Rep. Ellmers and other Republicans won’t support? Here’s what it says, “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”
So even legal protections for unmarried straight couples are at risk, and that worries some Republicans. Experts say that unmarried women wouldn’t have the same legal protections in a domestic violence event as a married woman.
While some dispute the impact on domestic partnerships of straight couples, one of the authors of the amendment, N.C. Rep. Paul Stam makes it clear in a letter printed on the website of the NC Values Coalition: “Domestic partnerships or civil unions, whether opposite-sex or same-sex, would not be valid or recognized here.”
Stam goes on to claim, “There is a real threat to the institution of marriage,” but then doesn’t describe any actual damage to anyone’s marriage.
It would be amusing if the occasion weren’t so sad, but there is now a Facebook page for people in NC who don’t feel their marriage is threatened by gay marriage (http://on.fb.me/wikMHf). I just called my wife and she agrees that our marriage hasn’t been endangered by gay marriage. We may have to sign up.
Strangely, on the Vote for Marriage NC website (http://www.voteformarriagenc.com/threat/), proponents of DOMA say, “Protecting the interests of children is the primary reason that government regulates and licenses marriage in the first instance.”
As a voluntarily childless couple, our marriage isn’t for the purpose of having children. That’s also the case for my father-in-law, a widower who’s getting remarried next year. He and his fiancée are retired and only have grown children.
Do DOMA proponents see us as part of this “real threat to the institution of marriage” that Rep. Stam speaks of?
Farther on in the same website, proponents say, “When marriage ceases to have its historic meaning and understanding, over time fewer and fewer people will marry. We will have an inevitable increase in children born out of wedlock, an increase in fatherlessness, a resulting increase in female and child poverty, and a higher incidence of all the documented social ills associated with children being raised in a home without their married biological parents.”
Wait. Isn’t that what we have right now and what we’ve had for the last 30 years? Proponents use Christian scripture to claim that DOMA will squelch gay marriage and defend straight families from all this gloom and doom. But similar DOMAs have been passed in 29 states, and despite that 40 percent of marriages still end in divorce and almost half of births happen outside of marriage.
Statistics show that gay people constitute about 5 percent of the population and Christians compose two-thirds to three-quarters. So clearly, the vast majority of those divorces and out-of-wedlock births are among heterosexuals and Christians.
And let’s not even talk about adultery – isn’t that a direct threat to legal, straight, Christian marriages and punishable by stoning according to the scriptures? Shouldn’t there at least be a fine? Yes, adultery used to be punishable by the courts. But contrary to scriptures, even church-going legislators have voted to de-criminalize it. Self-interest on the part of some perhaps?
As a straight, married man, raised as a Southern Baptist, who says a little prayer before opening the paper every morning, I believe this DOMA is aimed in the wrong direction if you want to defend marriage and strengthen families. Reminds me of my elementary school teachers saying that when you point your finger at someone, all your other fingers are pointing back at you.
There are a lot of constructive actions that could be taken to strengthen families and marriage. But DOMA isn’t one of them.
Frank Hyman has held two elected offices, been a neighborhood president, worked as a community organizer and owned a business for 20 years. Tell us what you think at email@example.com