Like California's Proposition 8, the Amendment One measure in North Carolina would amend the state constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman — but it would also ban gay civil unions and domestic partnerships.
On my way in to work, I count the number of AGAINST AMENDMENT ONE signs on peoples' lawns, compared to the number of FOR AMENDMENT ONE signs. My journey (for those familiar with Winston-Salem) is along Robin Hood Road.
Last week, there were virtually no FOR AMENDMENT ONE signs, and around 12 AGAINST AMENDMENT ONE signs… including 3 in front of churches/religious institutions. Pretty sweet.
This week, there was a change. About 11 AMENDMENT ONE signs and 3 FOR AMENDMENT ONE. Most notably however, a huge AGAINST banner (in front of the Unitarian Church) was gone. Instead, there was a spray-painted sheet where the banner once was. Placed there by the church, it reads: "Why steal our banner?" [UPDATE: The banner is now replaced, I'm told by a UU attendee]
It's sad but true. That's the mentality of bigots. Stealing of property means nothing to them in their quest for keeping up (irony alert) moral values.
Here's another example of NC bigotry, on full display for all….
ter·ror·ism /ˈterəˌrizəm/ Noun: The use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.
How is this not terrorism?
And it gets worse. Who (besides the redneck above) is doing the sign stealing? Apparently, families are.
The impact of signs was brought home to me again recently. I got a call one evening about 10 days ago from a friend of mine from church who said that he had witnessed someone stealing "Vote Against Amendment One" signs on Morganton Road.
Stealing political yard signs is nothing new. I was a volunteer for the Obama campaign in 2008, and our signs were either prized possessions or prime targets, depending on one's perspective. People were stealing them left and right.
Likewise, a local resident who feels strongly about this issue bought and distributed 250 of the Carolina blue "Vote Against" signs. By last Friday, all but 26 of them were missing. It speaks to the worst of human nature. But sadly, it's to be expected.
Still, there's something a little different about these signs because they're not about candidates. The effects of the amendment they address will have a much more direct impact on people's lives, gay and straight, than the election of any one particular candidate. As I drove down Morganton Road the morning after my friend called and the familiar signs were gone, I was filled with an anxiety that I never felt when candidate signs went missing.
The stealing of the signs sends a very inhospitable message in an area that depends in large part upon its hospitality. It makes us look narrow-minded, backward and mean-spirited.
Serious action by the local authorities might go a long way toward countering that perception.
Last Sunday, another friend of mine at church explained what it meant to him, personally, as a gay man. It says to gay people that they don't deserve equal protection under the law and that they are unworthy of the 1,300 rights and protections afforded to heterosexual couples when they marry.
It says that gay people are not welcome here and that as long as the people stealing the signs draw breath, he would always be a second-class citizen in their eyes.
The most disturbing part of what the friend who called me witnessed was that the people he saw stealing the signs were not alone. They had two younger people, presumably their children, with them.
They were in effect teaching their children, by example, that not only was it acceptable to discriminate against people who are different from you, but it is equally acceptable to commit petty larceny to deny them their First Amendment rights. It is an example so gravely misguided as to border on child abuse.
Think about this…. they are concerned about protecting the family… so they teach their kids to STEAL?