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Monday, April 30, 2012

Gaston County Commissioners misstepped in their support of Amendment One

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 10:59 AM

On Thursday, Gaston County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that supports Amendment One. The dictatorial and completely unnecessary amendment would make it illegal to recognize any domestic union in North Carolina other than marriage between one man and one woman and is projected to affect health-insurance benefits for children and negate domestic-violence laws.

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  • Courtesy of Gaston County's website

When I took up residence in Gaston County with my son six years ago, the move elicited snickers and eye-rolls from my Charlotte friends who couldn't believe I'd want to live somewhere so "backwards". I ignored what I thought to be their uninformed opinions in favor of Mount Holly's beautiful landscape, friendly people, and safe, calm environment in which to raise a family.
For the first time since then, I wonder if I made the right decision.

I perceive a hollowness now behind the smiles and waves from my neighbors that has me feeling not so welcome anymore. I had a child out of wedlock while living here. Do they feel like my young son isn't worthy of health insurance? As my stepdaughter practiced a dance routine to Queen for her studio's spring recital, I looked around the auditorium at the other parents and wondered how many of them were quietly disgusted by the inclusion of a gay performer's music.
In his scathing response to the vote, Gaston Democratic Chairman Robert John Kellogg echoed my lost sense of community.

"The actions taken by our commissioners were a deliberate infusion of their personal beliefs and religious convictions instead of an informed and benevolent action of true leadership. Instead of putting the community first and opting for unity, they chose to further widen the schism already present into a gaping gulf."

I understand many Gaston County residents don't agree with the commission's vote, but the abundance of "Vote FOR Amendment 1" yard signs around town shows far too many do. I see now why Gaston County was described to me as "backwards". It is moving in the wrong direction of history. It made the same mistake in the '60s, when it took a challenge against fair voting for African Americans all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. As marriage equality is shaping up to be the civil-rights issue of this generation, the county has sadly voted for regression once again.

The following is Kellogg's full response to the commission's vote:

The decision by our all Republican, County Commissioners to vote in favor of a resolution supporting amendment one was a blow for Democracy which left a black eye on those who are opposed and those who favor a more prudent local government.

The actions taken by our commissioners were a deliberate infusion of their personal beliefs and religious convictions instead of an informed and benevolent action of true leadership. Instead of putting the community first and opting for unity, they chose to further widen the schism already present into a gaping gulf.

I am deeply concerned and saddened that in the end our County Commissioners could not look beyond their own political ambitions,personal ideology and self- promotion to see that their actions would do more harm than good to an already over-heated electorate being pushed toward the boiling point. They opted to follow orders and keep in line with the political machine in Raleigh rather than to follow the oath of office in Gaston County which urges them to serve all people and to act with the best interest of the County in mind.

I find it irresponsible and down-right negligent to promote an amendment that bans an already illegal practice by amending the state constitution, marginalizes whole segments of our state population, puts NC. Families in jeopardy and rolls up the welcome mat in front of the business sector of the state. Every single law school in the state as well as countless conservative politicians and pundits have denounced this amendment for its problematic language and potential harm to families in NC. Yet our all-male, all-white, all-republican County Commissioners blindly ignored the facts and opted for political posturing and playing Russian Roulette with the lives of the very constituents the pledged to serve.

As a gay man and as the County Chair of the Gaston County Democratic party I will continue to stand up for what is right and true and just and will continue to fight against that which discriminates and marginalizes other Americans. We should all be concerned that if this amendment passes we are entering into a dangerous phase of majority mob rule mentality where a religious majority can usurp its authority and doctrine on everyone else regardless of their own personal ideology.

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