There they go again.
At least a handful of folks in the General Assembly – we truly hope it’s only a handful – are continuing a rear-guard action against changing social attitudes, a respect for human rights and diversity and the pursuit of happiness.
And, oh, yes, the Constitution of the United States.
Tuesday, four N. C. House Republicans filed a bill that would tell the Tar Heel state to thumb its nose at the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court two years ago quite appropriately slapped down North Carolina’s ill-advised and discriminatory Amendment One, which prohibited same-sex marriages and forbade the state from recognizing such marriages in other states where they were legal.
The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling opened the door to same-sex marriages across the country.
“No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the 5-4 majority. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”
The plaintiffs, Kennedy added, wanted “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”
Forget that, say the new bill’s sponsors, considered among the House’s most conservative members.
In the bill, they argue that the court’s ruling “is null and void in the State of North Carolina.” Not to be hyperbolic, but the language invokes South Carolina senator and vice president John C. Calhoun’s thunderous opposition to an early 19th-century tariff. Calhoun and his nullification doctrine and defense of slavery helped lead to secession and civil war.
The “Uphold Historical Marriage Act” invokes the Judeo-Christian Bible. The Supreme Court ruling “exceeds the authority of the court relative to the decree of Almighty God that ‘a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ Genesis 2:24) and abrogates the clear meaning and understanding of marriage in all societies throughout prior history.”
We don’t doubt the sincerity of the bill’s sponsors’ beliefs, but we would point out that their faith is not that of all citizens, not all citizens interpret that faith in the same way – and “prior history” has countenanced slavery, brutality, the branding and execution of those perceived as heretics…the list goes on.
To be sure, the four sponsors are known for introducing legislation that goes nowhere because legislative Republican leadership does not condone it. We’ve learned that anything is possible, and rapidly, with these legislators, but we can hope this bill dies a quiet death.