Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Calling for Equality

As you may or may not know, Kate and I are engaged and getting married next month (!) here in North Carolina. Same-sex marriage isn't legal here, but since we've made this state home for the past six years (and counting), we feel that it's important to get married in the place we consider home, surrounded by our families and friends. 

We're so excited to be joining our lives together here, but the awareness that we can't get legally married here is particularly acute as we're planning our honeymoon to Vermont, where we'll have an entirely separate civil ceremony. Though this will obviously be exciting for us, it will have absolutely zero meaning as far as the state of North Carolina is concerned when we get back. We'll still have to file taxes separately and list ourselves as being single, even though that obviously isn't true.

While New York recently passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, in North Carolina we're currently fighting for essentially the reverse of that- to not have our constitution say that same-sex couples like us can't get married (convoluted, no?). Next week the North Carolina General Assembly is reconvening for a "special session" on constitutional amendments. One that's currently on the slate is House Bill 777/Senate Bill 106, the so-called "Defense of Marriage" act, which would create a constitutional amendment against same-sex mariage here in North Carolina. We're currently the only state in the south that doesn't have one, but, like I said earlier, same-sex couples already can't get married here.

What this amendment will do is to write hatred and bigotry into our state's founding document. It would also bar civil unions and prohibit both public and private entities from offering domestic partnership benefits like health insurance. It will even nullify the largely ceremonial domestic partnership Kate and I received through our little town.  A ridiculous slap in the face, if you ask me. For a full rundown of what this bill would (and wouldn't) do, click here.

With only a week until the NCGA meets back in Raleigh, there are lots of ways you can get involved. As you'll see above, Equality North Carolina (our state's truly awesome LGBT rights organization where- in the interest of full disclosure- I've had the privilege of interning and volunteering) is hosting a rally in Raleigh next week against the amendment. If you're local, please join! It's so important to show legislators that this isn't something that's wanted by the people of our state. ENC is also hosting a series of vigils across the state the night before, so be sure to check those out, too. And p.s.: did you see that Chely Wright is going to be at the rally and the vigil in Raleigh? As if you needed further incentive to attend!

They're also holding phone banks across the state every day this week from 12-9pm to encourage folks to contact their legislators to oppose this bill. Check out their website for more info or to sign up!

Don't live in NC? You can still make a contribution to Equality NC and/or follow them on Facebook and Twitter to help spread the word about what's going on here. You can find out the status of same-sex partnership recognition in your state and join the fight there to make it more inclusive, if applicable.

The take-away message here? Get informed and get involved no matter where you are so that this type of discrimination stops impacting a whole lot of folks, including Kate and yours truly.

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