On North Carolina, Fear, and Love
by Bryan Borland
Yesterday, North Carolina became the latest state to vote bigotry into its constitution, banning not only same-sex marriage but any civil union that is outside the scope of one man and one woman.
Driving to work this morning, I listened to a man rant against an undocumented student named Jose Godinez-Samperio who had passed Florida’s bar exam and was fighting to become a licensed attorney: Illegal aliens are taking up too much space. These are the same Dream Act kids blocking the streets with their protests.
Last week, I read a letter to the editor in our local paper criticizing suffrage for women because it gave them the freedom to cut their hair, wear pants, and leave the home.
A few days ago, I learned that a friend’s partner of some thirty years had succumbed after a long bout with cancer. My friend kept vigil beside his partner for months and months as the disease worsened. I will not list the traditional marriages wherein one spouse abandoned the other during a prolonged illness, though two prominent political figures come to mind (both who are anti-marriage equality). My friend has now lost the love of his life, and all I can think is that if those two weren’t family, then who is? The term marriage would have been lucky to have them.
The same as the United States would be lucky to have a man like Jose Godinez-Samperio as a citizen.
The same way we are fortunate that women, though still often denied equal wages and basic respect, have shattered the glass ceiling that once contained them.
What do these things have in common? The anti-gay. The anti-immigrant. The anti-woman. They are primarily motivated by a shift in our cultural geography that threatens folks who have long been in power.
I will not condemn North Carolina. There are many fine, wonderful people in the state, and to shun the state as a whole would be to condemn many other states and parts of this country I love. But I will condemn the narrow-minded, fear-based intolerance and hatred that allows people to justify telling me that what I have with my husband is not marriage.
I hold firm to the belief that love will eventually conquer fear. But sometimes we have to help love along. I urge you to contact your politicians, your friends, your neighbors. I urge you to speak out and up for the disenfranchised, for the child who deserves to be a citizen, for the couple whose family deserves legal protection and recognition, for the woman who can do her job ten times better than the man who makes more than her.
We aren’t there yet. But together, we’ll get there.