I wasn’t going to write a post on what happened in North Carolina. I was disappointed, but I was hardly surprised. I was more disheartened when Proposition 8 was passed in California. However, after seeing all the Facebook posts this past week …

… Oh, OK. Go ahead. You think you know what I’m going to say. “…I was inspired to continue the rant! I can’t believe people are so ignorant!!11!”

No.

Let me finish.

After all the Facebook posts I saw this past week, it occurred to me that there is a fundamental misunderstanding. A misunderstanding of what it means to actually have marriage rights. A misunderstanding of what the people voted for in North Carolina. And, the only thing that scares me more than bigoted ignorance is ignorance of your rights. Because when we don’t know what we’re voting for, what we’re fighting for, and why, then the terrorists win.

Okay, that was a little melodramatic.

Enough jest. I’ve seen and heard the gamut this week. However, what I heard that cut most to the core was this: “Polls show many voters didn’t understand it also affects civil unions. While a majority of North Carolinians oppose gay marriage, a majority also support civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.”

What did the Republican candidate for President say this week, in response to Obama’s official announcement that he is pro-gay marriage? He “thinks civil unions are enough.” (They’re not, but I’ll get to that in a minute.) So, what you’re saying, Mr. Nominee, is that you’re against the amendment that was passed in North Carolina, yes? Because you are, if you’re pro-civil union. So, if you were a citizen of that state, what would your vote have been?

Not to mention, this bill also bans domestic partnerships. Did you know that Duke University was among the first private employers to grant benefits to same-sex couples? Do you know what a trend that has turned into? More to the point, did you know that most employers who grant these “domestic partner” benefits, in the issue of fairness, grant the same benefits to heterosexual couples who are unmarried but otherwise committed? Did you know that, the way North Carolina’s amendment is worded, that these recognitions are not constitutional?

So, for all of you who say that marriage should be solely a religious rite and not a civil institution, you know that North Carolina made that illegal this week, don’t you?

Here’s the thing: Like it or not, marriage is a civil institution, and has been a civil institution for millenia. It’s been a tenet of society LONG BEFORE Christ was born. It is NOT a religious institution. That your church chooses to recognize marriage only under certain defined criteria is fine. The Catholic Church sees me as unmarried in their eyes, because I was married in a civil ceremony. That’s fine. That’s their right to do so. But it doesn’t change the legal document on file with the New York State Department of Health. It doesn’t change the fact that, if something happens to me Chris gets my retirement benefits without penalty – if he was not my husband, just my beneficiary, they would be subject to certain taxes that those who are married are not subjected to. This even goes for gay couples who are legally married in states that allow and recognize it – thank you, DOMA!

Speaking of DOMA, you know that when you add a partner that is not your legal spouse (including otherwise legally married gay couples) to your health benefits, not only is the benefit now deducted after tax, but if the employer pays a portion of this benefit, that too is subject to income tax?

It’s more than just married-filing-jointly. There are a lot of benefits we married folk enjoy that we take completely for granted. What I have written here doesn’t even scratch the surface.

So, now to go back to the 14th Amendment.

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

I really don’t understand what is unclear about the above statement.