We don’t often comment on national issues or votes in Washington.
But we cannot help but express our bewilderment at the votes of North Carolina’s two U.S. Senators – Republicans Richard Burr and Thom Tillis – in participating in the effort to enshrine gay marriage as a national “right.”
It was just a decade ago, on May 8, 2012, when North Carolina voters overwhelmingly voted to amend the state constitution to specify that the only marriage, i.e.,”domestic legal union,” to be recognized in the state was between one male and one female.
That seemingly straightforward decision, also reached by many other states – either through constitutional amendments or actions by their state legislatures – was overturned by a U.S. Supreme Court decision, 5-4, in 2015.
In doing so, the Supreme Court narrowly but decisively overturned the wisdom of 35 states whose state laws and/or constitutions had prohibited the practice.
As has been typical of court decisions seeking to reach popular ends, regardless of constitutional merit, the legal reasoning of the decision was dubious, indeed.
That questionable fact was noted by current U.S. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, who commented on it, seemingly as an aside, earlier this year when the court struck down the court’s precedents which had created (from language nowhere found in the U.S. Constitution) a right to abortion.
Activists for the LGBTQ community then decided that their next step – to preclude any potential reversal or revision of the court’s gay marriage decision – was to enshrine the concept in federal law.
To our utter consternation, North Carolina’s two U.S. senators decided to aid their cause.
Both joined with another 10 Republicans – and all Democrats – to push the legislation through the closing days of the current session of the Congress while rejecting additional protections for those individuals, companies, churches, or others who might have religious or other objections to the concept.
There has already been litigation – before and after the 2015 gay marriage decision – seeking to force an “acceptance” of gay marriage on those who might actually oppose the concept, usually based on religious beliefs and strong moral principles.
We think it wrong enough that Burr and Tillis would have decided to support the gay marriage bill, simply on its questionable “merits.” The idea that in doing so they would also totally reject the expressed will of their constituents – who voted 61 percent to 39 percent in favor of the constitutional amendment – is unfathomable.
Tillis was even one of the ring-leaders, working in little huddles with pro-gay Democratic legislators and lobbyists over the past several months to engineer this federalization of the gay marriage law.
Senator Burr is already retiring at the end of this Congress, so perhaps he couldn’t care less any more what his constituents think – on this or any other subject.
But Senator Tillis should have. We can only assume from this latest gay-rights vote (he’s inexplicably taken several) that he has effectively decided not to seek re-election in 2024 or any other state office, after having so thoroughly rebuffed the widely-held views of his constituents.
If he does seek re-election or any other office, we certainly won’t be surprised to see that he faces an uphill battle to win any Republican nomination (which he narrowly achieved in 2014 when he first sought the Senate seat). Those who wondered at the beginning of his Senate career whether he was sufficiently conservative certainly will use this as more evidence that he isn’t.
But regardless of Tillis’ political future, he and Burr did their constituents a great disservice this week by voting to override North Carolinians’ objections to institutionalizing (even more) gay marriage across the country by “protecting” it in federal law.