In so many important ways, American politics has made extraordinary strides when it comes to LGBT rights. Just in the Obama era, there have been historic breakthroughs in areas such as military service, health care benefits, and hate crimes.
What's more, there are plenty of credible national polls showing that most Americans are finally supportive of same-sex couples having the right to get married, and the number of states embracing marriage equality has grown steadily. The arc of history is, in the larger context, bending towards justice.
But for all the steps forward, occasionally, the nation slips and falls.
Riding a Bible-influenced coalition that cut across political and racial lines, the marriage amendment stormed to approval Tuesday, making North Carolina the latest state to put stronger legal barricades before same-sex unions.With 90 percent of the counties reporting, the constitutional amendment to make marriage between a man and a woman the "only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized" won resoundingly, 61 percent to 39 percent.It goes into effect Jan. 1. North Carolina has had a law banning same-sex marriages for 16 years.
That last part is of particular significance -- same-sex marriage is already prohibited in North Carolina. What this new Amendment One does, as Rachel explained last night, is eliminate "all legal rights for all unmarried couples, straight and gay."
As the New York Times report noted, experts in family law have said the language of Amendment One is worded so poorly, it wouldn't just ban marriages and civil unions for same-sex couples, "it could also apply to the more than 150,000 straight couples in the state who live together but are unmarried. This could invalidate domestic-violence protections, undercut child custody arrangements and jeopardize hospital visiting rights."
North Carolinians, by a wide margin, apparently didn't care.
Or more accurately, most North Carolinians. The Charlotte Observer added that the amendment lost in the state's largest areas, including Charlotte, Greensboro, Asheville, Raleigh, and Durham -- it lost by a four-to-one margin in the famed Research Triangle -- but the results were entirely one-sided just about everywhere else.