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1 May 2017

Legal Discrimination?

Legal Discrimination?

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North Carolina’s history of anti-LGBTQ policies continued with introduction of House Bill 780, titled, “Uphold Historical Marriage Act,” on Tuesday, April 11, by NC House Republicans. It was designed to restore the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. This is not North Carolina’s first attempt to deny same-sex marriage, as witnessed in 2012’s Amendment One. Both policies are deeply rooted in conservative attitudes toward the institution of marriage. On the other hand, it’s important to note that bills are not laws until passed by House, Senate, ratified, and if required, signed by the Governor. Thus, opposing voices have had a chance to raise their concerns with this bill.

H.B. 780 is directly sponsored by some of the House’s most conservative legislators, whose proposals often fail to find support from House GOP leaders. Sponsors of the bill call for states’ rights to make decisions on same-sex marriages independently. Furthermore, they believe the Supreme Court not only overstepped their power in NC, but also overstepped “the decree of Almighty God.” Republican Representatives sponsoring the bill, including Larry Pittman, Michael Speciale, Carl Ford, and Mike Clampitt, even referenced the Christian Bible, stating, “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis, 2:24). 

Pittman released a statement to WSOC-TV stating, “HB 780 is about the need for the States to reassert their rights. As the bill states, marriage is not a federal matter. For too long, the federal government and federal courts have been allowed to overstep their bounds because the States have not had the courage to say no. Upholding the US and NC Constitutions means demanding that laws and court rulings do not contradict the very Constitutions we are obligated to uphold. I appreciate Rep. Speciale and Rep. Ford for having the courage to stand with me and say so.

Pittman was referring to Speciale’s commitment to resurrect North Carolina’s Amendment One, which allowed the state of NC to deny the legality of same-sex marriage licenses issued in other states. More than 60 percent of cast ballot votes were in favor of this amendment. While conservative Republicans from NC attempt to reinvent anti-LGBTQ measures, the voices of those who oppose these bills echo over damaging opinions of others.  

Ames Simmons, director of Transgender Police with Equality believes bills like H.B. 780 would be hard to pass in such modern times. Simmons stated, “Ideally the people who make laws would be helping to make the situation around discrimination better instead of perpetuating it.” Another opposing viewpoint comes from Wake County Commissioner John Burns who criticized the bill via twitter: “Pittman and Speciale are embarrassments to the state of North Carolina and should be shunned from public life.” If H.B. 780 were to pass, marriage licenses of same-sex couples would not be issued or honored throughout the state.  

H.B. 780 has met backlash from those who oppose it. Pittman responded to criticism of his bill on Facebook where he stated, “And if Hitler had won, should the world just get over it? Lincoln was the same sort if (sic) tyrant, and personally responsible for the deaths of over 800,000 Americans in a war that was unnecessary and unconstitutional.” 

Pittman’s view towards LGBTQ citizens differs from NC House Speaker Tim Moore, as he stated, “There are strong constitutional concerns with this legislation, given that the US Supreme Court has firmly ruled on the issue; therefore House Bill 780 will be referred to the House Rules Committee and will not be heard.” Opposing voices continue to challenge these discriminatory bills as concerned citizens remain committed to equality for the LGBTQ community.

Author:Nicole Hayes
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