As a long-time activist, I’ve been watching the news around the country on many different issues. Climate change. Racial equality. Gender equality. Same-sex marriage. Separation of church and state. States rights.
Yesterday it really hit me. What kind of Kool-Aid have the legislators and many of the citizens in North Carolina been drinking? Whatever it is, it appears to have greatly impaired their view of the world and how we all fit (or don’t fit) together. Here are three actions taken within the state in the last year that stretch credulity and appear to be sending the state back at least two centuries.
First, on May 8, 2012, the citizens of the state once again added discrimination to their constitution when they approved Amendment One. This amendment denies gays and lesbians the right to marry. Fortunately it was the last state to do this and is now being questioned in the US Supreme Court in two cases – Hollinsgworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor.
This is the second time North Carolina has written discrimination into the state constitution. The last time discrimination reared its ugly head was in 1875 when a miscegenation ban was added to the state constitution that made it a crime for people of color and whites to marry each other. That anti-miscegenation ban lasted until 1967 when the Supreme Court unanimously overturned all anti-miscegenation laws around the country in a case known as Loving v. Virginia.
Then in June 2012, legislators decided that reality doesn’t need to be acknowledged. Climate change, in their opinion, doesn’t exist and must be publicly denied or ignored. In this case, scientists within the state are banned from accurately predicting sea-level rise. Replacement House Bill 819 states that scientists would be required to predict sea level rise by just using a linear model based on trends seen since 1900. This bill specifically says in section 2, paragraph e:
“These rates [in sea level rise] shall only be determined using historical data, and these data shall be limited to the time period following the year 1900. Rates of seas-level rise may be extrapolated linearly. …”
Let’s bring this down to something concrete. Say it’s been sunny for the last three weeks with one day of rain and very little wind on two of those 21 days. Using a linear, straight-line model, one would predict that it will continue to be sunny and calm into the foreseeable future. Even if Doppler radar and satellite pictures show a growing storm with 75 mile-per-hour winds headed in the direction of the NC coast. This is ludicrous. Where is the reality here? And where is the reality in North Carolina’s ban on accurate sea level rise predictions?
And now this week, two legislators who sponsored and/or voted for both of these thoughtless actions have taken another poisonous sip. This time Reps. Carl Ford (R-China Grove) and H. Warren (R-Salisbury)—a co-sponsor of the house companion bill to the senate bill that became Amendment One—have introduced another constitutional amendment proposal. If they get their way, North Carolina will declare that the state is exempt from the US Constitution and all court rulings regarding establishment of a religion. The text of this amendment reads:
SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.
SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.
This proposal goes hand-in-hand with another part of the NC Constitution that says that people who do not believe in God cannot hold public office. And that part of their Constitution is unenforceable because of a 1961 Supreme Court decision in Torcaso v. Watkins that bans such prohibitions. Why? Because such a ban
“unconstitutionally invades [one’s] freedom of belief and religion guaranteed by the First Amendment and protected by the Fourteenth Amendment from infringement by the States.”
So would this newest proposal.
Sounds to me like North Carolina is setting the stage to try once again to secede from the United States of America.
Shades of the 19th Century, the Civil War and Post-Civil War era. Climate change. Marriage rights. Religious freedom.
North Carolina. Really! What Kool-Aid HAVE you been drinking?!