Leave it to a former athlete to start with a sports analogy, but since we do have a contest on our hands, isn’t it appropriate to ask whether one team has been stacked too heavily against the other? In other words, is this going to be a fair fight?
Statistics are a messy thing, and when it comes to counting the number of non-heterosexuals in this country, it seems that the experts are just guessing.
What is clear is that heterosexuals will have a decided advantage over non-heterosexuals when North Carolinians go to the polls to vote on the marriage amendment on May 8th.
The guesstimates seem to put the number somewhere south of the 1940s estimate by Alfred Kinsey that ten percent of the population in this country is gay. See this article about the difficulty in arriving at a good number, and how the 1940s estimate may have been inflated: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/07/gay-population-us-estimate_n_846348.html
Even if the disadvantage among the teams could be statistically manipulated to make this as close as a team of 1 versus a team of 10, who would possibly argue that this is fair fight?
Truth be told, this vote, which will affect the minority, will be decided by the majority.
On the other hand, this fair fight analysis presupposes that anyone who is on the heterosexual team is going to vote for the amendment. That will not happen.
What we don’t know is whether a voter’s sexual preference will guide their vote without them giving the matter a second thought. For them, it could be like finding the easiest question on the whole test, causing them to vote to define marriage in the way that seems most natural and logical to them. They may see it as a no-brainer, which it will be, if these members of the majority team are not educated about the effect of their vote. If they want to vote their conscience, that is one thing. But if they show up without thinking about the issue and simply let their subconscious do the work, then the minority team should start to worry.
One way to make the fight more fair is to educate members of the majority team about the effect of their vote, explaining that this is more than a true/false question. What may seem like the right answer to them at first glance may change with more information.
Another danger with having a stacked team is that many on the team will want to impose their belief system on others. Worse yet, not enough of their team members will be willing to consider aligning themselves with the minority. This attitude — an indifference to the plight of others — is why civil rights for minorities were so hard to come by for so long in this country.
Whoever wins this vote will need the people in the middle, and those people will be members of the majority team. It is critical that they understand the implications of their votes.
On a hand-out at the February 25th event I attended on this subject, Stewart Bankhead, member, Binkley Memorial Baptist Church, Chapel Hill, NC, was quoted as saying: “The majority should never have the right to vote on the basic human rights of a minority. Because without fail, the majority will vote to deny those rights to all that it perceives as different…The State’s purpose is the protection of all its people, not just the protection of the powerful”.
That being said, the State legislature has given the majority the power to vote on the rights of a minority. How it does so could say a lot about the character of the people of our great State.