Yesterday, people in North Carolina voted to add a ban on gay marriage to their state constitution. This isn't surprising news and North Carolina is just one of many states that has passed such a ban in recent years. I've always found these bans to be a bit silly. Voters are banning something that isn't even legal. It is like it is doubly banned, which seems unnecessary.
What happened in North Carolina is sad. It is yet another reminder of the struggles that are ahead for the gay community and the battle for equal rights. The votes for this ban were rooted in misunderstanding, misinformation, and hatred. As many have stated, these voters, just like voters in all the other states, are on the wrong side of history. Gay marriage is coming. You can delay it, but you can't stop it.
I'm not, however, so concerned with those voters. What has concerned me is the reaction I've witnessed today on various social networking sites. The passing of this ban in North Carolina is worthy of a comment on Facebook or Twitter. In fact, I'd rather people spread the word about such things than telling me what they had for lunch, but I've been a bit shocked by many of the comments I've seen. Too many people seem to be quick to make their own hate-filled comments about people in North Carolina or very general statements about southerners. These comments are rooted in some of the same things that caused people to vote for this ban: misinformation and hatred.
Guess what? Not everyone in North Carolina voted for this ban. Also, not everyone in North Carolina or in the South is a stupid bigot. It's easy to make these statements and easy to feel that way sometimes. I've felt it and probably said similar things, but how are these comments useful or helpful. I didn't see this reaction when Prop 8 passed in California. People were angry, but the comments were not how stupid everyone in California is. This isn't strictly a southern problem. In fact many of the states that have passed bans are in the North.
I'm from the North, but have lived in the South for the last 7 years. I'm currently in Orlando, which actually is south of the South, but I spent three years in Tallahassee, which is very southern and very conservative. Florida as a whole is very conservative. We've passed our own ban on gay marriage. I've seen hatred and bigotry in every place I've lived. Yes, the South has a history that includes some strong discrimination of various groups of people, but I always remind people that Indiana actually has one of the worst histories of the KKK in our country. There are differences between the North and the South, but making generalizations is often missing the point.
Bans, like the one in North Carolina, make me angry. We have the right to be angry, but we have to be better than those voters who voted based on hatred and fear. Our responses have to be better and stronger. Hate the haters, but realize that making generalized statements about any group of people is wrong. Stand up and support those people who voted against this ban.
As I was finishing up this post, I got word that President Obama just officially and publicly supported gay marriage on ABC News (President Obama Endorses Gay Marriage in ABC News Interview). This is a big moment and shows that times are changing. These bans are here for the moment, but I believe their moment will be brief.