Monthly Archives: May 2012

Amendment One: A Battle for Conservatism’s Soul

In November 2010 the North Carolina Republican party conducted an electoral revolution, ousting the Democrats from power in the state house for the first time since the Reconstruction era. However, if they want to retain their majority, their priorities need serious re-calibration.

The Republican Party plays to the rhetoric of its various factions; military hawks, social conservatives, and fiscal conservatives — but often the party falls dreadfully short of executing the intentions of its fiscal voting base. Unfortunately for the GOP, it is that voting bloc that the Republican Party needs in order to survive in the 21st Century.

North Carolina’s Amendment One battle is symptomatic of a Republican party rife with inner-conflict. In terms of the unemployment rate, North Carolina is ranked above only three other states: California, Rhode Island, and Nevada — sitting at 9.7 percent. Instead of working on policies that would cultivate economic growth and attract business, we’re voting on gay marriage tomorrow.

The referendum proposes an amendment to North Carolina’s constitution, allowing the state to ultimately define marriage, not the church.
The text of Amendment One:

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.

Now, being the defiant libertarian-oriented Republican that I am (like most Millennials), I’d love for the state to get its nose out of marriage entirely. That’s not the world we live in though, and until we see a radical shift in the structure of our federal tax system (or custody laws for that matter), such things are a pipe dream.

What we don’t need, is to let the state further interfere in marriage. This amendment essentially does that, and goes a step further: it denies equal application of law to a segment of citizens. It makes them second class citizens.

This won’t sit well in the stomachs of young people, or the business community, where the bottom line is everything.

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers recently compared Amendment One to the disgraceful Jim Crow laws of the 19th and 20th centuries, “if this amendment passes, we’re going to look back 20 years from now, or 10 years from now, and we’re going to think about that amendment the same way we think about the Jim Crow laws that were passed in this state many, many years ago… this is the 21st century, and we’re competing with people around the world… we’ve got to be inclusive and open.”

Charlotte Business Journal reported that WRAL-TV in Raleigh was unable to find even one CEO willing to speak in favor of Amendment One.

With international media descending upon Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention, the state will have a chance to showcase the best it has to offer; the opportunity is nearly invaluable to the business community. It would be a less-than-ideal time for news stories about writing discrimination into our state’s highest legal document.
Young people will be equally repelled from Republican politics by this move.

A quarter of young people, ages 25 to 34, are living with their parents. I’m 26 and I just moved back in with mine. Only 55 percent of Millennials from age 16 to 29 are working at all. The oversaturation of college degrees has lowered the quality of jobs available, and saddled students with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. This doesn’t even begin to delve into the underemployment problem either.

We have bigger problems than whether or not two gay people want to be married. We can’t even afford to get married ourselves. The last thing we want to hear is a politician preaching piety from a state office while we’re busy trying to figure out how to put gas in our cars.

The Republican Party has failed to address our problems, in any notable manner.

Ron Paul is an exception, and he frequently speaks to the woes of the young – he’s seen growing support for it too. He’s willing to talk about the debt, about inflation, about the insolvency of Social Security; he’ll speak out against the wars that Washington interest groups and contractors would eagerly send us off to. In fact, the possibility of a brokered GOP convention looms overhead, as Paul’s delegate strategy is beginning to retroactively award him state victories. Young people are at the vanguard of Paul’s organized efforts.

If a tireless group of politically-adept Millennials can stir up this much trouble in a Presidential nomination race? Imagine what else they can do with a little more time and practice. The GOP should want these activists on their side, which means toning down theocratic ambitions of social conservatives and tackling the real issues.

Social conservatism as a movement seems unable to separate the importance of personal virtue, over government mandate. But what is a social conservative? Does one have to coerce others to qualify as one? Must they inject their religious convictions into legislation to win the merit badge?

I’m old school. I’m devout Christian who believes in getting married and having lots of children. When I’m a little older, I’d like to be able to afford to do that. I think children do best in a loving, supportive home that has both a married mother and father. I advocate going to church on Sunday, and eating at the dinner table as a family. I also realize that plenty of straight families do not have these blessings. Alcoholism, cheating spouses, abuse, child neglect – these are all rampant problems. Should we also pass constitutional amendments against infidelity? It’s destroying marriages. Should we pass one against divorce? These are undeniable problems, but they are not best handled by the state—remember, this is the same organization that runs the DMV.

Tami Fitzgerald of the N.C. Values Coalition, a pro-Amendment entity, says “the people of North Carolina want to determine for themselves how they want to define marriage. They don’t want activist judges doing it for them.” But if activist judges are bad enough, how is letting the state’s most supreme legal document supersede the authority of church and family any better?

Passing Amendment One tomorrow will bring no benefit to anyone. Passing this will not advance the banner of liberty, conservatism, or the Republican Party. The issue of government coercion should give followers of Christ pause – marriage should be something we want done under the eyes of God, not under the eyes of the state. It will be seen as a law of exclusion in the eyes of the business community. It will be seen as an anachronistic, discriminatory blunder in the eyes of young voters. And it will be, not just in perception, but in reality, a law that denies equal legal protection to a group of people. Business and Millennials are the GOP’s future, if it intends to have one—not aging theocrats.

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