Noise and nonsense

It’s not always wise, politically speaking, to disclose one’s true motivations for introducing legislation, particularly when they are less than honorable and betray a supposed core value of the political party.

The talking points put out by NC House Speaker Pro Tempore Rep.

Dale Folwell of Winston-Salem and House Majority Leader Paul “Skip” Stam to drum up interest in their Defense of Marriage Bill, which will likely come before the General Assembly in its next session, illustrate this perfectly.

The bill seeks to change the state constitution so that it will define marriage as between a man and a woman, rendering gay marriage illegal in North Carolina and allowing the state to disallow these types of unions recognized by other states.

“The definition of marriage is the foundation to society. It should not be left to one activist judge to write its definition,” states the press release, reasoning that “it’s a legislator’s responsibility to put such an important decision in the voters’ hands.”

Naturally, this proposed intrusion by government on people’s private lives is brought to you by the Republican Party.

But to justify this deviation from orthodox party doctrine, Folwell and Stam lean on another tenet of the faith: business.

They equate having a positive business environment with marriage laws, citing a Forbes list ranking the best states for business, a spurious connection at best. And they dredge up a failed attempt, in 1996, at passing a law like this as a reason for passing one now.

And beneath it all is the assertion that a bill defining marriage actually strengthens the institution, insinuating that same-sex unions are a threat to more traditional ones.

Which, of course, is patently ridiculous. If Folwell and Stam actually wanted to protect our marriages, they’d be talking about things like affordable healthcare, free childcare and legislation designed to stem the rate of divorce, which is actually higher in states that have enacted marriage laws. About half of the Top 10 divorce-rate states have same-sex marriage laws on the books — if Folwell and Stam were being intellectually honest one would think they would feel compelled to mention this. They do not.

And they do not consider the damage they’re doing to their own party. While it’s true that older Republicans might vote in favor of this bill were it put to a referendum, the future of the party is in the youth. And young people of every political persuasion just don’t care about the sexual preferences of their neighbors, nor are they interested in using the power of law to punish people for the way they were born.

They do, however, point out that North Carolina is the only Southern state that does not have a Marriage Protection Amendment. But they say it like it is a bad thing, whereas most of us take pride in the fact that, in this matter anyway, we are ahead of the curve.

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