Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bev Perdue's Real Statement On Gay Marriage

Yesterday, North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue, stated her opposition to the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage that North Carolina voters will vote on this coming May. In a statement released on her website and quoted by news sites such as LGBTQNation and the Huffington Post, she asserted that she is opposed to the amendment, yet qualified that statement with the following words. 
“My top priority is creating jobs. Too many people are out of work and I’ve heard from several business leaders who’ve told me that the proposed constitutional amendment will harm our state’s business climate and make it harder to grow jobs here. I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman: That’s why I voted for the law in 1996 that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and that’s why I continue to support that law today. But I’m going to vote against the amendment because I cannot in good conscience look an unemployed man or woman in the eye and tell them that this amendment is more important than finding them a job."
It seems as though she may have to take this "middle ground" in regards to equality in order to keep her governorship away from her potential challengers (according to recent polling by Public Policy Polling she has a very low approval rating and is trailing or equal in the polls with her gubernatorial challengers). 


But is this a stand that should be applauded, or even just met with statements like "well that's good or "at least its a no vote" by LGBT activists?  I think not, for this statement out of the Governors office shows nothing more than a lack of substance or interest in promoting equality for her gay and lesbian constituents. Based upon her language, if a bill came before her to legalize marriage equality in the state, we would see a veto - since she continues to support and believe the discriminatory notion that marriage is only between one-man one-woman. 


Instead of holding her feet to the fire, Equality North Carolina - an organization with which I normally respect and admire - issued a tepid response. Instead of calling out the governor on the ridiculousness of her "opposition", they instead release a statement saying
Governor Perdue's statement makes clear that while there are issues on which we do not agree, we do agree that this amendment, and this debate, is not about legalizing same-sex marriage, but is and should be about what this amendment would actually do: eliminate legal recognition and protections for all unmarried couples, regardless of their sexual orientation.
With our communities focus on the negative economic impacts of anti-gay marriage amendments, it might seem as though we have gotten away from why marriage equality actually matters. Marriage bans are wrong because in them, we are being singled out for exclusion strictly because of our sexual orientation. We are denied legal relationship recognition because we were wired to love someone of the same-sex. Instead of  elevating the reality of our exclusion and denial of a basic fundamental right, organizations like Equality North Carolina is allowing individuals like Governor Perdue to assert that economics is the only reason to vote pro-equality. Because its "bad for business", it is bad for the North Carolina. It is only because it is better to "focus on jobs" and not fundamental rights that she will be voting against the bill. So does that mean that if business was booming and we were in the middle of economic growth, that the Governor would be voting for the discriminatory amendment?


That is the problem with allowing individuals like Governor Perdue to state that their opposition for marriage equality is strictly economic, rather than because such an amendment is a fundamental disregard of human rights and legal equality. A friend to our community who is only a friend because of economics is not a true friend at all. Instead, Perdue is an opportunist and a true politician, not only disregarding standing firm for equality, but embracing economic justifications for social policy. The slave-owners of the pre-war South would find much in common with her. 
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