Marriage Equality & this Election

*Commentary Playing on WCHL1360 Local Radio this week*

This is Jake Goad, I'm a Chapel Hill resident, and I've got something to say.

It's time as a community to get serious about LGBT equality. We can all take a stand through simple acts, like asking our employers to include sexual orientation in the non-discrimination clause of their employee manuals—which I did at my own workplace in Carrboro. We can support local chapters of groups like the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, and Equality NC. And we can support fair-minded candidates like Kay Hagan for Senate and Barack Obama for President, both of whom have campaigned right here in Chapel Hill.

We've already seen domestic partnerships established and a gay mayor elected in this area. But we have to go further than that. It is time for marriage equality.

To those on the left who would say "too soon, wait for a more convenient season"—I call to mind the words of Dr. King. "We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open where it can be seen and dealt with."

I recognize the gravity of this challenge, and I realize that fighting for equality and the freedom from government intrusion into our private lives may lead to a backlash from those who would seek to use the state constitution as a piece of social legislation—despite the fact that a state law banning marriage equality is already on the books. But I can't wait any longer. Those of us who seek monogamous, life-long partnerships are not at odds with the traditional value of marriage. After I get married next year in Massachusetts or California, I plan to come home to North Carolina and ask the courts to recognize that marriage.

The progressive movement in our state is more active than it has been in decades, so now may be our last, best chance to achieve equality.



Hey Jake. I am a huge supporter of marriage equality.  (Below is a reading we used to begin the ceremony when I got married to BrianR.) Are you proposing that we advocate for this right at the municipal or county level, or that we get organized to advocate for it at the state legislature?

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations. Without question, civil marriage enhances the “welfare of the community.” It is a “social institution of the highest importance.” It is central to the way the Commonwealth identifies individuals, provides for the orderly distribution of property, ensures that children and adults are cared for and supported whenever possible from private rather than public funds, and tracks important epidemiological and demographic data.

Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Tangible as well as intangible benefits flow from marriage. The marriage license grants valuable property rights to those who meet the entry requirements, and who agree to what might otherwise be a burdensome degree of government regulation of their activities. The benefits accessible only by way of a marriage license are enormous, touching nearly every aspect of life and death. Without the right to marry, one is excluded from the full range of human experience.

Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.

- Excerpts from the Massachusetts Sumpreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage

Goodridge v. Massachusetts (440 Mass. 309, 798 NE2d 941):

…which is something I’ve struggled with, figuring out where to seek change. Ultimately though, I think if you are going to do the right thing, it makes sense to try to do it across the board. On the state level we’ve seen “laboratories of democracy” in action with marriage equality in a few states (which are great guides on how it can be done), but ultimately it will be the national government that can create wide spread equality.

I can’t tell you how many different groups have linked me to this article (without responding to my actual legal questions) about changing minds, not laws. But I want to change minds AND laws (hence my mentioning of seeking legal recognition of my marriage through the courts in NC, and the quote I used from Dr. King in that commentary).

For changing minds, that will come largely through activity on the local level, and some good examples of how that can be done are laid out in that article I just mentioned. And one example I like to give is employees asking for the updating of non-discrimination clauses in employee manuals like I did at the vet clinic where I work shortly after I was hired (which was kind of scary at the time because I hadn’t been living in this area all that long when I was hired, I’d never held a full time job before, and I had many perceptions of professional life that I brought with me from the socially conservative town of Mt. Airy aka Mayberry, NC where I grew up). I was a volunteer intern for the Jim Neal campaign both because he would have been great for the job, and because I liked the idea of NC being open to gay candidates, which with a quarter of a million votes against a state senator I’d say we made progress. I asked Kay Hagan at a public gathering about her positions on gay rights & marriage equality and made her lay them out in public and on the record, and later I contacted her campaign and got them to add the “GLBT for Kay” group to her campaign website. (she supports hates crime legislation, the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell, & so on)

I understand that many of those groups that linked me to that article don’t want to “waste” resources on North Carolina when they might have more success elsewhere and maybe it’s selfish, but I don’t consider pushing for equality and the recognition of MY upcoming marriage in MY home state as a waste. I also hold no ill-will towards those groups that directed me away from legal recourse, and none against Kay whose views might not be as progressive as I’d like, and I recognize these groups and candidates are very much my allies in this fight even if I have to nudge them a little bit to get them to act.

While I think a multilateral approach is best, I'm no expert on how to achieve this change, and entirely open to suggestions.

BTW that excerpt you is a powerful statement, especially the last two sentences… almost poetic.

I decided to share an expanded version of this with dailykos if anyone wants to check that out or recommend it:

As well as on BlueNC

Ruby that's a very nice reading and a reminder that marriage is about a whole lot more than "you n me."  It is an incredibly important institution for society.   It  should be available to any couple, regardless of sexual orientation.  


Here's hoping we'll see some local elected officials at Pride on Saturday.

I'm speaking around 12n.  I won't be able to hang out long though.  One of my best friends is getting married later in the day.

if I didn't have to work Saturday =/

This sort of stuff just burns me up.  This election is supposed to be about so many different and important issues and Dole & her backers are trying to turn it into a hate-fest talking about "radical homosexual agendas" & "Godless Americans."  I've been a supporter of Kay's for a while now, but this just pushed me over the edge and I'll be donating to the campaign soon.  I profoundly hope Kay Hagan takes a strong stand against this sort of issue-avoiding hate-mongering politics.

to the supporters of McCrory (you know who you are)


want to tell us where he stands on lgbt issues? 


any of them?


anything at all?  


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