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Amendment One: An Unfortunate Wake Up Call

“45% of gay males and 20% of lesbians surveyed reported having experienced verbal harassment and or physical violence during high school as a result of their sexual orientation,” according to The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. According to Youth Pride Inc., “As many as 1 in 3 gay and lesbian youth have attempted suicide,’ and according to The American Association of Suicidology, more than 1,000 suicides occur every year on college campuses.

In an interview on Good Morning America that appeared on ABC news, President Barack Obama said, “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

With the statistics previously stated and as a person who strongly believes in equality, I could not agree with our president more.  And I am only disgusted to hear that on Tuesday, May 8, 2012, North Carolina passed Amendment One, a constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in their state.

It is overwhelming to hear that an entire state does not allow innocent people to live freely.  I want you to take a minute and think about what color hair, eyes, and skin you were born with.  I want you to think about what kind of bone structure you have, how many freckles you have, and how tall or short you are.  When you were growing in your mother’ stomach for nine months, you were not able to say, “Hey Mom, I want brown hair please instead of blonde,” because these are physical characteristics that you had no control over choosing.

Now think about your future and if someone hated you or did not treat you equally because you were born with these inevitable characteristics. When you look forward into your life, do you see a wedding ceremony with your friends and family?  Do you see a ring on your ring finger that reminds you of the day when you said, “I do” to the one you love?  Do you see yourself growing old with someone?  The option of this future should never be banned to anyone.

“The Declaration of Independence stated that everyone should be granted life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” said Jamie Yarmoff ’12. “I think the last part of that is violated by Amendment One. It’s heinous that people are voting on someone’s right to marriage. I don’t think it’s necessary or appropriate.”

“Our president just said that he thinks same sex couples should get married, and I can’t say that I disagree. I strongly believe that this should be the case, especially when North Carolina citizens have the right to marry their own first cousins.”

With so much on the line for those who identify as LGBTQ, it makes me even angrier that voters who have helped make our society unequal do not even know what they are voting on. According to Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, who was recently quoted in the Advocate when speaking on this issue, “North Carolina’s media failed to educate its audience about the potential far-reaching consequences of this amendment, and as a result, polls show as many as 60% of voters didn’t know the extent of what they were voting on.”

Although Westport is far from North Carolina and is much more accepting of the LGBTQ community, we are still extremely impacted by Amendment One.  Amendment One is an unfortunate wake up call, a reminder that hate and homophobia still exist in our society.  It is a reminder that the LGBTQ community and alliances of this community are not done fighting for their rights.

“Its just sad that in a time where so much is being done to move forward with the gay rights movement, we’re still facing minor setbacks like this,” said an anonymous high school student who is a part of the LGBTQ community.

“And it also just makes me really sad because you know there are people who live in North Carolina and states who don’t approve of gay marriage who wont have the same rights as we do strictly because of ignorance.”

Throughout high school I have met and built relationships with people who identify as LGBTQ, and just like my friends who identify as straight, they are wonderful people.  Sexual preference does not and has not done any harm to our society. It is Amendment One that is doing the harm.

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