COMMENTARY | CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- On Tuesday, North Carolina voters will finally decide the fate of Amendment One, a controversial amendment to the state's constitution that has drawn the nation's attention due to its unprecedentedly stark language: Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.
Not only does the amendment ban gay marriage in North Carolina (which, by the way, is already banned in the state), but it could be interpreted in ways that would disrupt health services for children of unmarried parents and interfere with legal cases involving domestic abuse between unmarried couples.
Opponents of the amendment have brought up all these points before, but according to opinion polls like the Civitas Institute, it is likely the amendment will pass by about 16 percent. Early voting, which closed on Saturday, seems to show that the opinion polls are accurate: Amendment One will most likely become a part of the North Carolina constitution, despite nationwide scrutiny of the amendment and powerful opponents such as former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. One has to wonder how such a strict piece of anti-gay legislation found its way into law in an oddly moderate Southern state.
First of all, far be it for me to call out young voters, but it looks like the Amendment One debate falls along a clear generational divide. Says Thomas Mills, a consultant on the opposition's side, to the News-Observer: "The urban-rural divide is going to be very apparent. You're going to see this generational divide, too."
Simply put, older voters will back the amendment; younger voters are more likely to be against it. The 2008 general election set records for the number of young people voting (66 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds voted Democratic that year), but primary battles appear to still be dominated by elderly voters.
Low voter turnout, particularly among young people and marginalized classes, is bad for progressive causes, especially LGBT rights. These are causes that fly in the face of tradition, so it's no surprise Americans raised in a different time with different values would be more hesitant about equal marriage rights. That's not an attempt to excuse them, but an observable fact that gay rights advocates have to accept.
The population that supports gay rights is very vocal. We are tech-savvy and we've grown up with social media, so we know how to spread the word. With every other Twitter post I've seen in the past week being in opposition to Amendment One, it can be easy to get too comfortable, to think no one supports Amendment One just because we don't see it. Supporters of the amendment may not be on Facebook, but it's probably because they're too busy, you know, actually going to the polls.
This is all presumptive, of course, but so far, it looks as if despite all of the hubbub, all the Facebook statuses, and all the Tumblr posts, young people simply haven't made our voices heard against the amendment in the one way that actually matters: with our vote.
- Politics & Government
- Civil Rights
- North Carolina
- Constitutional amendment