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Originally from Vermont, I now live in North Carolina. My work can be found in recent issues of REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, and Pank, among others, and forthcoming from Gargoyle #57 and REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. For two years I worked as an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. Currently, I serve as a mentor for Dzanc's Creative Writing Sessions. I'm working on two novels and a short story collection. In May, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the 2011 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

North Carolina's Amendment One

Ever since Amendment One passed in my adopted state of North Carolina I’ve been trying to understand and integrate the complexity of feeling around the issue, both in myself and my community. For it is a complex issue. Though the amendment seemed to be quickly boiled down by both sides to a simplistic gay rights issue, the amendment also snuck in a host of other human rights questions: the ability of two elderly people to live together in dignity with their civil rights intact, the rights of children of unmarried couples, the protection for an unmarried partner from domestic violence. These issues aside, the one that took center stage was whether two people of the same sex could live under the same protections and with the same rights that two people of the opposite sex take for granted. And the majority of voters of North Carolina gave a resounding, a disappointing, No.


I love my adopted state. North Carolina is where my writer self feels most at home. North Carolina is where I met my husband, the love of my life. North Carolina was where my youngest son, now 10, was born and is being lovingly educated and embraced by community. North Carolina is full of people who care for their state, work hard every day to provide for their families, give countless hours of volunteer time to their communities. That said, I was initially deeply saddened by the outcome of the passing of this amendment. Saddened because I’d hoped the majority of the people in this state, my adopted home, had moved beyond a fear and misunderstanding of homosexuality, had moved beyond hating one group of people based on a perceived difference, had moved beyond singling a group of people out and declaring them unworthy of God’s love and protection, and finally, perhaps most disturbing, declaring them unworthy of the law’s protection and consideration.


It’s clear this is a divisive issue. People seem to feel so passionately one way or the other that manners have been forgotten or discarded and accusations and vitriol have bubbled over into an otherwise sane discourse. But I wonder, in all of this back and forth, if people have taken the time to put faces to the issue. Surely, in this day and age, the people who pushed to pass this amendment and who voted it in must know someone who’s gay. A friend, a relative, a child. If not, surely they know someone who will be adversely affected by such restrictive rewriting of our Constitution. I wonder if they took the time to think, How will such an amendment affect my neighbor, my daughter, my mother-in-law, my son’s friend? I wonder if they asked themselves, How will my words of hatred and prejudice affect my community?


My oldest son, now a young adult, is gay. He’s brilliant, hard-working, caring. He’s a beautiful young man with a beautiful soul. I’m immensely proud of him. He no longer lives in North Carolina and I can’t help but feel protectively relieved he wasn’t here to read all the hateful articles in our local paper. And yet, I’m not giving him enough credit. He has had to deal with prejudice and judgment every day of his life and doing so has made him an incredibly strong and admirable human being.


I voted against Amendment One. I voted against it because there is no place for government in the bedroom. I voted against it because it’s wrong to limit or deny civil rights to our fellow citizens. I voted against it because it comes down on the wrong side of human rights. And I voted against it because one day, I don’t want my son to go through the frustration and pain of being denied access to his partner’s hospital room because their partnership is not recognized by the law.


I believe in God. I do not, however, believe in the ability of religious dogma to accurately and fairly interpret God’s intentions and I find all attempts to do so not only highly suspect, but arrogant.


Change in the issue of gay rights has been a long time coming. And it is happening. As people open their hearts and their minds, acceptance is spreading. I’ve seen it with my own eyes over the last thirty years.


Two days ago, I felt disappointed and disheartened. Those feelings have eased and left me with a feeling of hope. Because I suspect most of my adopted people who voted it in did so because they believed they were doing the right thing. Because most of my adopted people did not resort to hatred. Because I know the intrinsic good of humanity has prevailed in the past and will prevail in the future and it is these kinds of situations, the ones that boldly push important issues right up to our faces, that inspire us to deal with them, to consider them thoughtfully, sometimes even reconsider them, with heart, until eventually love and acceptance win out.

14 comments:

Myfanwy Collins said...

Beautifully said, Kat! You made me cry.

sherylmonks said...

Thank you for this, Katrina. We need more of this!

Anonymous said...

I have been in such a yucky mood over this... thank you for leaving a positive spin.
Kimberly Daniels

Maya Kóvskaya said...

Thank you for showing the world, and North Carolina, that not everyone ANYWHERE is a mindless bigot, and that even in places where the most ugly things happen, there are voices of reason, compassion and fairness amidst the hate. Glad you are proud of your son and that he didn't have to go through this. And glad that you are participating in the local debate and engaging with the people who made this deeply disappointing choice. You're the kind of mom who raises kids who do become more self-aware, stronger and more resilient because they have the love to support them in facing and overcoming bigotry. And your willingness to dialogue and share your own personal story is the kind of human interaction that will ultimately help change the local culture. Bravo.

Alicia said...

Beautifully, wonderfully, heartfully said Kat.

katrina said...

Thank you, my friends, for reading and commenting.

McKenna Donovan said...

Beautifully and heartfully said.

Susan Woodring said...

I have been wanting to read this since I saw a post about it on fb today...saved it for a treat once my kids were in bed.

Yes, beautifully said. Such heart here, and your viewpoint is just so well-argued.

I'm so glad you call NC your writerly home. I feel that way about the state, too, and particularly about the region I now live in--I'm in the foothills.

Thank you for this!!

Susan Woodring said...

As a side note, Alicia! I love your little bloody character/likeness/representation/whateverthenameforitis!!

katrina said...

Thank you for reading and responding, McKenna and Susan.

katrina said...

And Maya, I love your passion.

Anonymous said...

Well said. We had a similar result in Wisconsin a while back. We do, however, have a "domestic partner" designation - not the same as marriage but with many of the same legal rights.

Anonymous said...

This is a difficult subject for me as well. I have recently been tossing it around in my mind. I am not a church-goer (I'm not sinless enough). But because I am a bible believer, I recognize God's view on gay behavior as well as many other sexual acts that we are guilty of. I agree with your point on bigotry and don't understand why people hate and condemn others for their choices in life, whether they are sins in God's eyes or not. We are all guilty and should love people (as God does) even if we disagree with their personal choices.

If we abolish the IRS and go to the Fair Tax system, many of the reasons for the fight would be eliminated.

katrina said...

Anon (the second poster),

Thanks so much for reading and responding. It's good to hear many views on this matter so that we can begin and keep up the dialogue.

I disagree. Homosexuality is not a choice; it's who the person is, in as much as any sexuality is who the person is. So to deny rights to homosexuals would be similar to denying rights to all blonde people, or all brown-skinned people (oh, yeah, we've already done that!). What I'm suggesting is we keep the government out of the bedroom and out of the sexuality of its citizens.

Thank you for your thoughts and your honest response.