Same sex marriage is already illegal in North Carolina.
Even so, declaring themselves terrified that the courts may undo what the legislature hath wrought, the Republican-dominated North Carolina General Assembly imposed a May 8 referendum on whether to embed that stricture in the state constitution.
The image is rich in irony. Writing at Baptists Today, contributing editor Tony Cartledge notes:
Anyone who pays the least bit of attention has to be aware that the biggest threats to heterosexual marriage are the people who participate in them. People change. People make mistakes. People grow in different directions. People fail to communicate effectively. Heterosexual marriages end in divorce with uncomfortable frequency, but almost always with no assistance whatsoever from the possibility that the courts might one day overturn the state’s existing law against gay marriage.
A letter signed by hundreds of North Carolina faith leaders asserts that opposition to the amendment is as a matter of faith:
As people of faith, clergy and leaders in our faith traditions, we are mandated by God to demonstrate and protect love in all its forms and to stand for justice for all creation.
Supporters of the amendment, like Daniel L. Akin of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, say the opposite. Writing in the same magazine with the crosshairs image, he argues:
The Bible defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman in a monogamous covenant relationship intended to last for life.
Christians can first of all model what a healthy marriage looks like following the principles of Scripture. Again, we have often failed in this area and I believe that is one reason why we have so much confusion today with respect to marriage. In addition, Christians can take public stands and vote their conscience in seeking to promote the kind of marriages that are reflective in biblical truth. Christians should go to the ballot box with biblical principles and truth.
Whatever your view of marriage, if this amendment fails, same sex marriage will still be illegal in North Carolina and the status of marriage itself will not have been altered. Marriage isn’t in the crosshairs on May 8.