Letters to the Editor: Amendment One

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Emily Kane ’13
May 3, 2012

Despite originally being from Kentucky, in the three years that I have been attending Elon, I have made this place my home.  I don’t just consider my Elon community of faculty, staff, and students to be home though.  I feel a connection to this entire state through both my physical experiences here and my friends and their families who were born here.  I keep coming back to the idiom, “home is where your heart is,” despite its cheesiness.  My heart is in North Carolina, so I feel invested in the future of this state and the people who live here.  For me, it’s not a simple matter of where you were born but where you feel you belong.  And I belong here.

That is why I voted against Amendment One. I have to take a stand. I have to try and protect the place that has become my home and the people that have become my family.  As a member and officer of Spectrum, Elon’s queer-straight alliance, I have befriended and interacted with people from all over the state that will be affected by this Amendment.  It is a human rights issue because this amendment threatens the principles of tolerance and respect for the differences of others.  This amendment has the potential to remove basic rights for unmarried couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, because of the opinions of others.  Elon’s own faculty, staff, and even students, as well as others across the state will be impacted.

With all this in mind, voting in this upcoming election isn’t a simple black and white matter.  It is a personal decision that must be taken seriously.  So if you don’t feel the investment that I feel in North Carolina and a connection to the people that this Amendment will directly affect, then by all means, abstain from voting.  However, if you feel as I do, then please go take a stand against this discriminatory Amendment.  Just because I was not born in North Carolina does not mean that I, as a current resident of NC, shouldn’t have the same right to freedom of choice as those who were.

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Griffin Sager-Gellerman ’12
May 1, 2012

I feel that someone should say this, even if it seems insensitive and maybe even counterproductive to a worthy cause: You shouldn’t vote either way for Amendment  unless you are an actual North Carolina resident.

Did you grow up here? Does your family live in the state? Do you plan to live in the state beyond or outside your Elon experience? These are real questions that you and our school’s representatives should ask before appealing for mass student support of this highly localized issue.

We all know that most of the school are not North Carolina natives — 60 percent of us, in fact, come from outside the state. And yet numerous emails from student organizations and even Elon University officials have called for all students to vote one way or the other, since technically, as students, they have the right to vote on the issue.

But, do they? I feel that this issue especially hits home with me, since I’m from New York, where cultural norms and social values are quite different from those traditional to the Southeast and North Carolina. Even though I personally believe that love is love regardless of the sex organs you happen to possess, who am I to have any say in how North Carolinians decide they feel regarding issues surrounding same-sex marriage and how they might affect taxes and the culture in general?

This issue really boils down to the idea of freedom of choice — the entire principle behind supporting the rights of others to pursue romance in whatever manner feels natural to them — and yet here we are, saying, “No, the beliefs and opinions of actual North Carolina residents matter less than the social justice perceived by our bubble community in voting against this bill.” Again, who are we to judge, and believe we have the right to influence the decisions of actual state residents.

Regardless of whether you support or disagree with the proposed Amendment, you are, in a way violating the principles of tolerance and respect for the differences of others by assuming that your outside perspective is equal in value to those who may actually be affected by the results of the coming vote.

So, if you really support the implications of individual liberties that these types of legislative efforts are trying to address, please don’t poke your nose in other people’s business.

Let the North Carolina residents decide for themselves, and if your license plate isn’t red and white and says, “First in Flight” on it, do the right thing and stay at home. Maybe North Carolina will vote to ratify Amendment One — but that’s their decision, not yours, Yankee.

Griffin Sager-Gellerman, ‘12

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Austin Faur ’15
April 26, 2012

Everywhere you look on Elon’s campus, you see it — Vote Against Amendment One. For months, students have been receiving emails telling them to register to vote, so that on May 8 their voice will be heard.  In the dining halls, you can’t sit at a table without seeing Vote Against.

We are told, if passed, Amendment One will hurt families, children and may cause countless other problems. Therefore, it is our duty and responsibility to vote against this amendment. Has anyone done the research to see if Amendment One will cause the horrors described or do we just believe everything we read?

On April 20, Ross Wade, assistant director of career services in the School of Communications, sent out an email explaining how students could register to vote and included a link that told students why they should vote against Amendment One. The claims made by this video come largely from a statement from Maxine Eichner, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Her beliefs are the ones being propagated by the media and many at our university. But the media and our campus have ignored the counterclaims made by three professors from the Campbell University School of Law.

These professors refute the claims of Eichner and find she is not justified in her concerns. If Eichner is wrong, then people like Wade, who are spreading her unjustified concerns, should be held accountable for misleading the students of Elon.

Eichner believes Amendment One is going to hurt people of North Carolina because of the words “domestic legal union.” She believes this language is too vague and leaves many unmarried couples at risk of losing benefits. The professors from Campbell would disagree.  They argue that the amendment would “allow legal benefits and protections for unmarried opposite sex or same sex couples, so long as those couples are not treated as having a legal status resembling marriage.”

Therefore, everything would remain the same. Couples would still be protected, current child custody rights would remain the same and they would still receive health insurance benefits. The professors argue the amendment only applies to “unions,” but not “relationships.”  Ultimately, the problem with Eichner’s conclusion was her failure to “give the term “union” its proper effect in limiting the amendment’s reach.”

Why are we choosing to ignore the work of Campbell’s professor? Why do we as students continue to believe everything we hear? Isn’t it time we look at both sides of the argument? If the three professors from Campbell are right, then the intellectually honest action would be to admit we were wrong and vote for Amendment One on May 8.

 

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  • Steven

    Could not disagree more with Mr. Sager-Gellerman’s point. The fact that a majority may desire something does not make it right. The same could be said about the Civil War, that we should have let the south go on having slaves, because, heck, that’s just the way things are down there! If you have any common sense, realize that you have an obligation to do what’s right, no matter where you’re from, and no matter how much opposition you may face. So if you’re not from here and you don’t support bigotry, and this is coming from a born and raised North Carolinian, go vote against Amendment 1. And Griffin, get a little perspective.

  • Jefe

    I’m going to have to disagree and agree with Mr. Faur points. I agree that as voters, as students, and as people, we need to make sure we hear both sides of the story/argument before we make a decision. Everything has two sides, and as a voter, we need to hear both to be informed on an issue. Yet, I have to disagree with Mr. Faur on his reasoning to vote for Amendment One. Gay marriage/equal marriage is something I have been advocating for years. I have done my homework and listened to both sides of the story. Civil Marriage, the rights and protections granted by the government via a piece paper, is what is being fought for by the LGBT commnuity and its supporters. The other side wants to protect the traditional side of marriage, mainly the religious side. These are totally two different issues that involve two communitites, governmental and religious, that are seperated by the constitution. As for this amendment, it is superfluous because NC already has it on the books that same sex marriage is illelgal. The only thing it would achieve is to show this country that NC supports discrimination against its own people on the basis of religious ideal that not everyone in this state shares. Also, I have read the amendment and as a commoner it is extremely vague. Everytime I read it I wonder what some of the words mean and I think what consequences this could have for this state. What if the courts decide that “marriage” and not civil union or domestic partnership is the only legal union, then this state is screwed. The courts could also decide that a legal union is marriage or civil union or domestic partenership between a man and a woman, which is probably what the legislature was looking for. No matter the situation it’s a poorly written amendment that has too many possibilities with some that could damaeg our state. That, along with fighting for the equal rights to marriage, is why I am voting against amendment one.

  • Brittany

    I agree with Emily. Not with the bottom two arguments.
    Steven makes a great counterclaim, and I do believe, as Elon students, you should be given the right to vote for the place where you live. Other states practice this as well.

    Personally, if you feel that if you don’t support changing a place that you don’t come from, then why are you a student at Elon? Isn’t our mission to become global citizens, to advocate for social justice? Even business majors change some perspective or another, thus changing someone’s point of view in order to purchase what you are selling. Odds are you might move out of your home state for a job. Then you will be able to vote for different amendments and laws in that state. I also believe that as United States citizens, we all have an duty to vote and voice opinions, and if what we are voting on is suppressing the rights of others, then it should be your duty to help change that.

    All in all, this amendment shouldn’t even be up for discussion. Separation of Church and State is completely disregarded, as well as general human rights. Like in the human rights doctrine, which US citizens helped write, states that anyone should be allowed to marry whoever they want. Speaking as a Christian, I do not understand why certain institutions are pushing for Christianity in law. Its completely counter to the constitution and bill of rights.

    Also, as a student who will most likely end up with a male life partner, I do not intend to get married for personal reasons. Should that deny me domestic violence protections? Absolutely not! Some people are unaware of how difficult it is even to make domestic violence claims in a marriage, and I couldn’t imagine how much worse that will get for everyone involved. And yes, this is a direct consequence of amendment one.

    Of course be informed. Take on the information for yourself, and preferably from non-bias sources. Multiple sources. You cannot just validate the truthfulness of one person over another simply because you think the employment title is more impressive. I could say so much more, but no one probably reads these comments haha.

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