Why We Shouldn’t Give Up On North Carolina

My home state made an embarrassing turn at a sociopolitical crossroad this week. Gay marriage was banned. Again. But this time it’s legit, with a constitutional amendment to back it — the kind of finality that makes a very bold statement about how the citizens feel. And though I’m disappointed and even surprised with the results (yes, some of us had hopes for a state in the middle of the Bible Belt), let’s be real — it’ll be repealed in the next 20 years when the rest of our generation starts to care a bit more.

After all, gay marriage is not as much of a party divide as it used to be.

North Carolina, a once traditionally solid south red state, has been straddling the border of moderation for several years now, turning blue in the 2008 Presidential Election for the first time since Jimmy Carter was elected. It’ll also host the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte later this year.

The land of the pine is teeming with progression, but there’s one thing holding us back: Old people. And we have a lot of them. Yes, there are other groups holding us back, as with any state — like dogmatic nuts on both sides of the political spectrum — but at least they keep us balanced. They make moderation and reason look sexy for the rest of us.

Oldies on the other hand just don’t get it, and who can blame them? You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. They’ve long-since settled in their ways, and remain there as much out of habit as fear of change — the world has moved on without them. They’ve become obsolete.

Between today’s 20-somethings and the trolls of yesteryear, the generational gap is clear. Yeah, there are discrepancies within the age groups, but it’s safe to say same-sex couples have a bright gay future ahead, including in the Tar Heel state. Just think about some of our generation’s characteristics: religious skepticism? marijuana? electronic music? Simply put, there are a lot of things that older generations just won’t get.

Now with the passing of Amendment One, I’m not so sure I’m willing to change their mind anymore. At this point it’s a waiting game because these dogs sure are getting old. As morbid as that sounds, it’s what we mean when we say that “children are our future.” Sometimes that means that older people are holding us back — even if no one wants to say it.

No, we shouldn’t give up advocating, educating and voting altogether, but we should emphasize focus on our peers and the youth. We have to secure the future.

Butters from South Park said it best in this season’s “Butterballs” episode during real talk with his trifling antagonistic grandmother who makes his life hell. Eventually he comes to a revelation and tells her, “Life changes, and well you won’t always be around. Some day you’re going to die, someday pretty soon.” TC mark

image – Wanderlinse

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  • http://twitter.com/IsaacSwords Isaac Swords

    Since our development of healthcare and medicine, this baby boomer generation is the first generation to become obsolete while still alive. Our culture cannot continue while these old bags o’ bones keep trying to drag us back to the dark ages. There are some tolerable old people who know what it means to be equal, but they’re too few in number among their demographic of wrinkly idiots.

    We’ll have equal rights by 2022 in the US and UK, regardless of what laws and amendments they try to stick down because our generation knows better, to put it arrogantly.

    • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

      Call this an unfair generalization if you must, but old people are no good at everything.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/ZachAmes macgyver51

    Here’s a  cute little stat for you. On the May 8th vote, NC saw 34% of eligible voter turnout at the polls. Do you know how many showed up when President Obama won the state in 2008? 70%, thats how many. So maybe if you guys stopped writing little ditties about old people and how blindly unaware you are of the actual world moving around you, then maybe the ban had a chance at getting shot down.

    Keep talking about South Park though, that’s really making all the difference and I’m sure the LGBT community of NC really appreciates it.

    • Nissa Morin

      Why isn’t there a minimum percentage of eligible voters that
      need to show up to vote on something like a state constitutional amendment?
      Honest question, it’s been bugging me since I heard how terrible the turnout
      was. Isn’t one of the “tactics” in congress to just not show up for a
      vote, shouldn’t that be applicable to citizens as well? I realize it isn’t a
      rule but I’m just confused as to why. It seems to me that if you are going to
      pass something by popular opinion you should at least have a majority… or
      something better than 30%. But, I may just be angry about the whole issue and being overly simplistic.

      • https://twitter.com/#!/ZachAmes macgyver51

         Ehh, its kind of twofold. While our nation was founded to ensure that majority rules, it was also designed so that if needs be, a small dedicated minority could affect change despite mob rule. Thats why the rules don’t always overlap. This time it just happened that the small minority was clearly not the desired outcome. Also, turnout was technically high for a primary, its usually low for those votes anyway. Thats probably the way the amendment’s supporters wanted it. Low turnout largely tends to favor a conservative viewpoint in most elections.

        In terms of numbers, the amendment passed with a 60 percent voting in favor. If only about 35 percent of eligible voters showed me, then essentially NC’s ban on gay marriage was passed by the will of 20 percent of its voters. That was my problem. While cool guy that  wrote this article is blaming old people, its very likely because he didn’t get off his ass and go vote.

      • Nissa Morin

        Yeah, I guess in the end my dissapointment/anger should be aimed at those who did not go out to vote then at the system. I also think you are absolutely correct in that the supporters of this amendment wanted it this way. I was shocked that I had only heard mention of the vote a couple of times, at best, before it actually happened. I hope that in NC that wouldn’t have been true. The whole issue is legit making me depressed. I’m terrified that Romney will win because of similar voter apathy but man is it a hard thing to fight against. Voters who don’t care enough to vote rarely want to hear about why they need to. Not to mention the whole denying rights that I feel are protected by America’s founding documents… I need a drink.

    • http://twitter.com/lpburrows Patrick Burrows

      Amendment One had no chance of being struck down because of the power of the Evangelical voter. When Billy Graham is funneling money into a campaign and is telling Evangelicals of the state how he things God wants them to vote, it should go without saying that whatever he says will pass; he is a demi-god in NC. And not just him. People miss a huge part of the political landscape of the US when they don’t understand that the Religious Right has overwhelmingly succeeded at turning the political issues of abortion and marriage equality into matters of faith. This is completely illegitimate, but that’s the reality. If the amendment were to have been shot down, a logic for voting against it would have had to have been articulated from within the Evangelical community within its own particular language; no argument from the outside makes any sense or difference. Until Evangelical ministers begin to divorce themselves of making homophobia a matter of faith, it really just doesn’t matter what any of us say.

      • https://twitter.com/#!/ZachAmes macgyver51

        There’s only so long you can blame it on that before its some of the other sides fault as well. Again, look at the numbers. I find it hard to believe that the state that went blue in 08 simply did an about face 4 years later to the tune of some 25 percent of the vote. I find it easy to believe that the liberal vote that went out in 08 was too lazy to care in this election. Thats what the numbers tend to point towards.

        Not to go all libertarian nutso, but if we’re going to be a nation governed by a Constitution espousing liberty coupled by separation of church and state then both Barack Obama and North Carolina should stay out of it and allow people to marry as they choose regardless of what any “old person” or “evangelical” thinks about it.

    • mar

      I don’t
      understand what this stat is supposed to prove. It is already a widely
      acknowledged fact that voter apathy is more prevalent in primaries than a
      Presidential election across the US. It seems to me that you actually
      understand very little about political patterns and norms in general and even
      less about the passage of Amendment 1. As a North Carolinian that voted against
      the amendment, let me drop a little knowledge on ‘ya.

      Personally,
      I think voter apathy is the most frustrating political phenomena. However, it
      is what it is. There will always be a lower turnout in political primaries. And
      it will always be the extremists, on the left and right who turn out to vote.
      For obvious reasons, direct democracy in the form of referenda often fails to
      be representative of true public opinion. I don’t see how this is a problem
      specific to North Carolina that groups such as Coalition to Protect North
      Carolina Families and individuals opposed to the amendment failed to adequately
      address.

      Also, I
      think anyone familiar with Amendment 1 would say that the amendment passed in
      part because many voters were misinformed as to what the amendment actually
      entailed. Amendment 1 is a constitutional amendment stating that the only legal
      union recognized in NC is marriage between a man and a woman. While this
      obviously affects the LGBT community, it has a further reach than many
      realized. Amendment 1 nulls and voids any civil unions or domestic partnerships
      between not only same-sex couples but also heterosexual couples. Many were
      unaware of the effect Amendment 1 would have on homosexual and heterosexual
      couples, believing that civil unions would still be an option for gay couples
      and available to heterosexual couples. I have witnessed this
      firsthand. Marriage can be made into a religious issue. Evangelists like
      Billy Graham argue that marriage itself is a sacred ritual or sacrament that
      God intended to occur between on man and one woman. The same religious
      arguments do not translate as well for civil unions. If any critique could be
      made about the campaigning done by the Amendment’s opponents it would
      be the lack of focus on the endangered status of civil unions for all
      couples. 

      So who
      was the 34% that turned out to vote? I think Lee Pham makes an excellent point.
      Senior citizens are statistically the most likely demographic to turn
      out to vote; younger age cohorts are less likely to vote. But, you might say,
      what does this have to do with senior citizens voting for the amendment?
      Couldn’t they have voted against it? For me a county by county breakdown of how
      different parts of the state voted is telling. All counties with a large
      student population (Mecklenburg, Research Triangle, Wilmington, UNCA/App State
      area) voted against the amendment, some overwhelmingly so. Other areas with a
      smaller student population passed the amendment by a significantly smaller
      margin (like Forsyth County, home to Wake Forest, which passed the amendment by
      only 52.61%. This is a sharp contrast to some counties in which 70%+ voted for
      passage of the amendment.) To me this signifies that younger generations
      generally tended to be against the amendment, while older generations supported
      its passage. Republican Thom Tillis, the NC State House Speaker, said himself
      that the amendment would be reversed in 20 years as the young adult population
      ages. He also believes it is a generational issue. 

      Finally,
      what’s wrong with quoting a little South Park? In a situation like
      this, is it really so wrong to employ humor in the continued fight for marriage
      equality? Humor has been an effective way to make a political point, employed
      by satirists from Rabelais in the 1500s to Colbert and Jon Stewart today.

      • https://twitter.com/#!/ZachAmes macgyver51

         I’m well aware of the lower turnout stats on primaries. Thanks for the knowledge dropping. For some reason, I feel like whenever that term is used, the opposite happens.

        I never said that the older population wasn’t the ones voting for the amendment, of course they are. Blaming them while somehow dodging the fact that the younger population didn’t vote is just stupid.

        Was the referendum hidden in the primary? Yes, I actually said that in a later comment. All that does is show that the older, more conservative voters are more consistent about getting out to the polls. Karl Rove used a similar marriage amendment in 2004 to ensure that conservative voters showed up to vote for Bush. It had a similar effect.  Strategists probably knew what is true, that the young liberals that helped to turn NC blue would not show up for this referendum. Its disappointing. I’m not saying that it could have turned the tide, but 61-39 is pretty damn ugly.

        You really think that referendum was confusing? Really? I hope you’re in the minority there, otherwise I’d wager you guys have a whole bunch of special sales tax hikes to build circuses or castles.

        What’s wrong with a little South Park? It is stupid, that’s what.

      • mar

        I see that comment now. We also seem to be on the same page about many points. However, I still have to disagree with you on a few points.
        1. I personally believe it is easier to work within political trends than to try and change them. People are either going to vote or they are not and little can be done to convince apathetic people to go to polls. 
        2. That being said, I think the young population of NC did an excellent job of turning up to vote in this election. Many, many students turned out to vote in an election they normally would have ignored because Amendment 1 was on the table. Opposition groups did a wonderful job of registering student voters who were 20 or older. 20 somethings that then went out to vote for the first time. 
        3.  Just because somebody voted for Obama does not guarantee that they would vote against Amendment 1. The two are not interchangable. 
        4. And yes, the referendum was unclear. I myself was perfectly aware of its effects on ALL couples, regardless of sexual orientation and the status of domestic violence charges and custody agreements. But the fact remains that many people believed they were just voting on a law about gay marriage. I have talked to many people AFTER the election who still believed that they were only voting on gay marriage. This is how the amendment was portrayed by media and by its supporters. 
        4. On the South Park point, agree to disagree. Although you will get really far in life if your default in a debate or argument is “It is stupid”.
        Clearly you are not from North Carolina and are ill informed about the amendment’s passage. While I support your belief in marriage equality I feel you are out of line in attacking Lee Pham personally. Simply by writing this article he is engaging in politics. More so, I would argue, than someone who is anonymously critiquing him. He clearly supports gay marriage and I’m assuming you also support gay marriage. So doesn’t it make more sense to support each other and provide a stronger front in the fight for marriage equality? Or is your sense of internet self-righteous preventing you from joining hands with all gay rights supporters?

      • https://twitter.com/#!/ZachAmes macgyver51

        1. You completely miss the point of what I’m saying. NC has been touting itself as some sort of new progressive Southern state. Which is great, as long as those progressives get up and vote. It reinforces the belief that young liberals simply do not have the consistency of conservatives.

        2.You’re right. Turnout did increase dramatically. Since most of that turnout was seen in the Republican primary voting you have to imagine the increase was in conservative voters.

        3.You’re absolutely right. Still, 61 percent to 39 percent is pretty damn bad.

        4. It shouldn’t matter then, thats the issue under discussion. Its not like this issue just jumped out there. They didn’t just sneak it on the ballot.

        5. You personally believed things in your comments and referenced “People you’ve talked to” as a source. I can’t think South Park is stupid? Thats inconsistent.

        If I thought this were a sit around the circle and share my feeling situation, I’d do that. Its not, its a struggle. You think people within the Civil Rights movement didn’t argue and disagree for the sake of harmony?

        In the end, my beliefs should mean a hoot for squat. Our nation is a republic based on constitutional rights. Gay marriage should be under those rights, protecting those persons wishing to do so regardless of what you or I or anyone else thinks or votes. Instead, we’re playing games with people’s lives. If I were self-righteous I’d play those games. I try not to be and am sorry if I came across harsh but I simply don’t think you or I should be in the discussion and this mess is exactly why. A right is a right regardless of whether or not you or I or whatever old person wants to think.

  • http://twitter.com/robwoh Robert Wohner

    I think I agree with your premise but find your analysis a bit simplistic. There’s no doubt the elderly are a decaying social force. But North Carolina’s population has a lot more nuance than what you’re presenting here. Very few states feature a vibrant coastal identity, a rural mountain identity, a strong financial presence, a strong academic legacy and an enduring Evangelical history. Plus, all of these segments of North Carolina are fairly geographically isolated from each other. I’d expect a lot of North Carolinians define and understand the state in many different ways.  Which is why when something like Amendment One passes, it only confirms a lot of poor preconceptions about the state. But outsiders often ignore larger realities worth considering. I think I would argue your point by saying North Carolina is much more economically and culturally diverse than most people outside of the region would expect it to be. Which is why Amendment One shouldn’t totally affirm anyone’s ideas about what the state is or what their citizens value.

  • Buttes

    Is your plan to kill all of the old people by submerging them in endless cliches? I can get on board with that plan.

  • http://twitter.com/geology_rocks Haley F

    It’s totally all the old people. We should ban then from voting after 55.

  • http://twitter.com/iamthe0nly Jordana Bevan

    nuculur bomb the south!!!!!!!!

  • Brandon h

    Ageist much? You could have made your point without the use of “the trolls of yesteryear”. 

  • Liz

    Thank you for your essay, but it’s not “old people” holding back any state that strikes down any form of marriage equality law, it is fear and ignorance.  That is prevalent at any age. Education and further discussion on this topic may get NC residents to change their opinion, but it will be a lawsuit from a same-sex couple that will have their marriage license denied in NC that will find Amendment 1 unconstitutional.  Never wait for change to happen, let alone wait “20 years.” Make it happen.

  • Avi

    “Wait for the elder generation to pass on” is a bad strategy. If you give up on advocating just because you think the other side can’t be convinced, well that’s a self fulfilling prophecy. And the time the Boomers won’t be gone for another 20-40 years, by which time our generation will be middle aged. 

    • Guest

      “No, we shouldn’t give up advocating, educating and voting altogether,
      but we should emphasize focus on our peers and the youth. We have to
      secure the future.”

  • Saikia

    I just don’t think it should be an issue. Period. If we are trying so hard to keep church and state separate, why have the people vote on something like this when they know it’s going to be a religious matter? It makes the Christians look bad, and I say this because I am one, but I opposed the Amendment because I feel like everyone should have the right to get married. One religion shouldn’t have all of the say-so in the matter. It’s not so much the old people and their ways that need to change, but instead this idea that Christians think gay people are “abominations”. The hate and discrimination needs to stop.

  • Nicator

    Haha…the people who created the era of free love and feminism are now useless obstacles in the minds of liberals.  Just too funny. 

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