Anti-gay Amendment spurs solidarity
Posted by raleighfist on May 24, 2012
By Andy Koch
Progressive-minded people across the United States watched with dismay on May 8 as North Carolina became the 30th state to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. However, the feeling here in North Carolina is not one of defeat, but of power and hope. The struggle against the amendment was one of the broadest and most dynamic the state has seen in years, involving hundreds of community and faith-based groups and more than 16,000 volunteers.
“Our win is humongous,” said Kai Lumumba Barrow, Southerners On New Ground organizer, in a video the group released on May 9, “because our dialogue is not just about gay marriage. It’s moving toward a dialogue about what does it mean for poor people, people of color, queer people coming together to fight for each other’s liberation. This amendment made that possible.”
North Carolina already had a statute on the books prohibiting gay marriage. So why pass this new constitutional amendment?
For one thing, the wording of the amendment not only bans same-sex marriage, but would wipe out legal protections for women and children in physically abusive unmarried partnerships, as well as numerous other rights that such couples currently hold.
The amendment’s right-wing authors in the state Legislature would tell you that a constitutional amendment ensures that the conservative definition of marriage is protected from being altered in the future. Such reactionary beliefs were a motivator for legislators and supporters of the amendment.
Building solidarity is key
But in order to understand these kinds of oppressive attacks as a social phenomenon, we have to look at the class forces at work. The capitalist ruling class is in some serious hot water right now. Their system is in crisis. They’ve had to pull out every trick in their book to keep profits up — like starting new wars and the huge bank bailouts — yet they are still struggling. Importantly, the people of the U.S. are fighting back against their rulers on a scale not seen in decades. This is what scares the capitalist ruling class most of all.
So what does the ruling class do? Everything they can to put the working class and oppressed people on the defensive. They take back welfare protections that people won through mass struggle. They slash state budgets for public services and education. They smash unions and collective bargaining rights.
Intensifying the oppression of lesbian/gay/bi/trans/queer people by putting discrimination into the state constitution is also part of their strategy. Capitalists across the country and in North Carolina hope the people will be too busy defending themselves against new attacks on their human rights to wage an offensive struggle against the ruling class. They hope that the working class and oppressed people will be further divided by LGBTQ oppression.
And this division is a very real danger — the U.S. South has had a historically weak labor movement due to the divisive effects of white supremacy. The only way that this division can be overcome is through unconditional solidarity among the working class and all oppressed people. The progressive people of North Carolina don’t feel defeated at the passage of this anti-LGBTQ amendment because the struggle against it has been a shining example of this kind of solidarity.