Charlie Albertson was a familiar figure in the General Assembly. He served for 22 years, mostly in the Senate, until he decided not to run again in 2010. The one-time farmer hails from Beulaville, down in Duplin County. He's country in more ways than one.
Albertson's main claim to fame must be that he's an accomplished country singer-songwriter. The N&O's Jack Bernhardt, in a 2010 review of a collection of Albertson's work, had this to say: "With songs centered on down-home values of marriage, family, fidelity and faith, our singing senator lets us know that, whatever else he may be, Charlie Albertson is one of us."
It turns out that when Albertson applied his down-home values to the question of whether North Carolina needs a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, this was one Eastern North Carolina, in-touch-with-the-grass-roots Democratic politician whose answer was "Nope." Here are his thoughts, which he recently shared:
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Buckminster Fuller, an architect, author and futurist once said, “It is not for me to change you. The question is, how can I be of service to you without diminishing your degrees of freedom?
Those are words to live by, particularly today, yet I’m afraid some of my friends in the Legislature, those charged with upholding the very freedoms we hold dear, have worked to diminish them by proposing a Constitutional amendment frequently referred to as the marriage amendment.
This amendment will be on voters’ ballots May 8 and I believe passing it would deny some of our friends and neighbors their civil liberties.
Proponents would have you believe it’s all about same-sex marriage, but the amendment touches on far more.
In my opinion, we should not attempt to amend our state’s Constitution unless there’s a compelling reason to do so. The proposed marriage amendment in no way meets that test.
Our current law, which was enacted 15 years ago, says in North Carolina marriage is between a man and a woman, and we don’t accept same-sex marriages from other states. The law has proven itself effective and, yes, it has been perfect.
So why the need for an amendment?
Advocating for this amendment at a time when we need to be working together to create jobs and meet the many challenges facing our nation seems out of order. It seems a little kindness and compassion toward those we are afraid of or don’t understand might actually benefit all of us.
There are other people to consider and this amendment doesn’t.
The proposed law would prevent civil unions and/or domestic partnerships. So much for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness … at least for some.
At a time when our nation seems to be moving in the opposite direction, overturning “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” some states legalizing same-sex marriages, some churches ordaining gay ministers and people showing increasing support for these initiatives, it seems we are doing an about-face. There are those that simply aren’t satisfied with a perfectly good law that protects the sanctity of marriage. They want to march this state backward, not forward.
While I respect and appreciate those in the faith community who don’t support same-sex marriage, I don’t understand the seeming lack of compassion for those who are different.
We should accept people as they are rather than judge them for who they aren’t.
Through a friend, I recently learned I’m in a minority. I throw a ball with my right hand but bat left-handed. While this is strange to some, it’s always been natural for me. I was born that way; I’m different. The truth is, we are all different.
If we only interact with people who are like us, we will find that life is pretty lonely.
One of my best Republican friends told me a compelling story about Alan Turing. It is a story that changed me forever
I encourage you to Google his name and study his life story. But briefly, Turing was an English mathematician, logician and computer scientist who was highly influential in the development of computer science.
More important still, Turing, during World War II, was instrumental in helping break many German codes and shortened the war, saving many, many lives.
Turing, however, was gay, and it eventually led to his criminal prosecution and the forced treatment with female hormones as an alternative to prison. Humiliated and judged by his peers, this brilliant man killed himself.
A lack of compassion snuffed out a brilliant man’s life before he was 42. Imagine what he might have been able to do for humankind had he not been judged so harshly, had people shown him the same compassion we seek from others?
Let us also remember, we are all Americans first, a people of many faiths, some of no faith at all, yet we are all born equal under the law.
And no one should judge another human being. We simply aren’t qualified.
One might think that members of the faith community would be a facilitator to bring people together rather than than the hammer that drives us apart.
To many, including myself, the marriage amendment is like that hammer.
We shouldn’t want to change people and we certainly shouldn’t diminish their freedoms. We would not want someone to do that to us because of who we are, now would we?
I cherish my faith and respect the faith of others, but I hope we would never use our faith to discriminate against another human being.
I believe the marriage amendment does that.
--- Charlie Albertson