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In the past twenty-four hours, the North Carolina House and Senate have passed Amendment 1, which will go to the vote in 2012. This amendment, called (by some) the Anti-LGBT Marriage Amendment, damages more than just the LGBTQ people living in North Carolina. Not only does this amendment bar same sex marriages, but it also prohibits the recognition of any sort of domestic legal union outside of the bonds of heterosexual marriage. It has the potential to impact domestic violence protection for unmarried couples, child custody and visitation, end-of-life directives, and domestic partnership benefits for public employees.
I didn’t really think it would pass the House vote last night. I certainly didn’t think it would pass the Senate vote today. I just kept thinking to myself – we will not take this step. We will not begin again the process of stripping people of their rights. Not just LGBTQ people. Everyone.
I don’t know if I am stupid or just naïve but I didn’t really think it would happen. I believe in a different world, one ruled by hesed –a Hebrew word that encompasses love, mercy, race, and compassion all in one. It’s a difficult love that surpasses just those we know. It’s a love that clothes Adam and Eve, despite the hurt God must have been feeling at their betrayal. It’s a love that reaches out to help abusers as much as it helps the abused. It’s a causeless love that means even strangers are encompassed into our care and mercy. After all, Torah makes clear that God loves the stranger, the foreigner, the newcomer (Deuteronomy 10). We, in the image of God, are called to do the same.
I am appalled by this bill. It does not live into the loving kindness that I believe God expects of us.
But I am appalled by something else as well. I’ve been reading some of the blog comments about the bill. I’ve been watching what people on Facebook have been saying. Here are some of the ones that really stand out:
“I hope all the people who voted yes are prepared to take fans to Hell with them.”
“You will die and go down as evil men supporting an evil bill.”
“Satan is waiting for you.”
Don’t get me wrong. I pray that this bill fails in the 2012 vote. I pray that every person in North Carolina fights to make sure that this bill passes into history as nothing more than a temporary bit of insanity. We must fight it.
But we cannot fight it with curses, insults, and the use of religion as a weapon. We must not fight with these tools. We are fighting for the right to love, to love openly and with commitment and with dignity. What does our fight mean if we use weapons that are dirty, degrading, and hate-filled? If we believe in a world filled with the spirit of God, if we believe in a world in which loving, compassionate, merciful kindness can rule, then must not love, compassion, and kindness be the arsenal with which we fight?
I beg you – fight this amendment. Vote. Talk about it. Do everything you can to make sure that we do not allow basic human rights and dignities to be stripped. But remember, we are called to love. We are called not only to love those who agree with us, because that is just so so easy, but to love those with whom we disagree in the most fundamental ways. That is the hard work of God, and it’s the work that will bring the love we are fighting for to life.