Tillis: marriage amendment will come, then be repealed

N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis told a small crowd of N.C. State students Monday night that Amendment One, which constitutionally bans same sex marriage in North Carolina, would likely pass in May and be repealed within a generation.

The Technician, N.C. State’s student newspaper, reported that Tillis talked about energy, his experiences as a politician, and Amendment One in a question-and-answer session. On the latter, he said: “It’s a generational issue. The data shows right now that you are a generation away from that issue.”

That means although Tillis expects the amendment to pass - he cited research saying 54 percent will vote to approve - he expects it’s only temporary. “If it passes, I think it will be repealed within 20 years,” he said.

Tillis is right. There’s already a shift in public sentiment, with national polls showing a majority of Americans in favor of allowing same sex marriages. It’s happening in some states, too. In Maine, where voters overturned a law legalizing gay marriage in 2009, polls show that a referendum allowing gay marriage will pass in a vote later this year. If North Carolina doesn’t vote down Amendment One in May, Maine would be the first state where voters didn’t reject homosexual marriage.

That’s partly why N.C. lawmakers dug in harder on keeping the wedding day away from gays, despite our state already having a law against same sex marriage. Gay marriage opponents are stacking their sandbags as high as possible against the inevitable wave.

Problem is, that puts us further behind states that understand gay marriage amendments are both discriminatory and bad for business. Bank of America executive Cathy Bessant reiterated that Monday, calling Amendment One “disastrous” for recruiting talented employees and “a direct challenge to our ability to compete nationally for jobs and economic growth,” Reuters reported.

Tillis, a businessman and pragmatist, surely understands that, too. While it’s nice to appear forward thinking in telling young folks that gay marriage is just a matter of time in our state, it’s hardly visionary to shrug at inevitability after trying to block it. The "data" may tell the house speaker that we’re a generation away from same sex marriage; it’s too bad he doesn’t want to participate in leading us there sooner. Peter St. Onge