In North Carolina’s debate about Amendment One, set for a vote on May 8, marriage has become an abstract concept – either defined as a civil right or a gift from God or both.
Amanda Greene of Wilmington Faith and Values begins this two-part series examining marriage and commitment from the perspective of a lesbian couple in our community.
The trickle of an outdoor fountain and the occasional passing car greet Carol Leininger and Ann Friedrich each afternoon in their garden. The retirees, both in their late sixties, come to their enclosed porch each afternoon to discuss the news of the day, their children and especially their grandchildren. Their weekday conversations sometimes stray into the fight over gay marriage in the state. Groups arguing for the amendment have called marriage a blessing from God reserved for one man and one woman only. Groups arguing against say the amendment isn’t a spiritual issue but one of civil rights since gay marriage is already illegal.
Carol and Ann had their first holy union in Ohio after they decided to spend their lives together. Having God at the center of their union was important.
“When we decided to have a ceremony, we definitely felt it was important to have it at the church because God is a very important part of our lives. And it would not have been as important if we had not had God present to bless our union.”
When Canada approved same sex marriage 20 years later, they were married in front of Niagara Falls with their two children, friends and family around them.
To Carol and Ann, they are married, though their union isn’t recognized in North Carolina. They wear gold wedding bands. They pay separate taxes though their money is pooled. And they worry if they’ll be allowed to make end of life decisions for one another if needed.
“We all are entitled to legal marriage. Holy matrimony can be conferred by the religious institutions. I see that as a separate issue. That distinction would satisfy everybody.”
Ann and Carol say they feel blessed in their lives, no matter the direction the vote takes on May 8.
Tune in for the second part of this series on Monday, May 7th during Morning Edition and All Things Considered -- when Amanda Greene examines marriage through the eyes of a heterosexual Catholic married couple.