Saturday, October 1, 2011

Last night on her show, Rachel Maddow did what she often does, which is bring to the forefront some of the important issues being faced in cities and states across the country. With her The Rachel Maddow Show each weeknight on MSNBC, she places those issues on a national stage. Maddow, by all definitions, is a liberal, and as much as I respect her as a journalist and admire her brilliance, I think she confronts and challenges the conservative agenda a little too often. But last night was a just cause. And a few Charlotte news stations got some face time during the opening of a particular segment.

During an eight-and-a-half-minute segment, Maddow staked her claim that inalienable rights should not be subject to vote. She addressed how several states have or are seeking to amend their constitutions to ban same-sex marriage, and there's even one that's seeking to ban abortion and perhaps birth control. The segment opened with North Carolina's plan next year to allow voters to decide if same-sex marriage should be banned, and it began with news clips from local stations.

WCNC's Sonja Gantt is shown saying, "Should gay marriage be banned in North Carolina? It could be up to you." Then it cuts to an anchor at WBTV reiterating the fact the N.C. voters will have the chance to decide if there should be an amendment to the state's constitution. Then it's Ramona Holloway of FOX News Edge who steals the show, when shown asking if North Carolina will become a "same-sexy destination" for newcomers. "That may be the year's nominee for most unexpected moment in a local news lead-in," Maddow says. "All hail WCCB (FOX Charlotte) in Charlotte, North Carolina. You win."

Then Maddow reminds us that gay marriage is already illegal in North Carolina, like it is in 44 other states, but "North Carolina is the only state in the South that hasn't amended its state constitution to ban gay marriage over and above the ban on it in just normal state law." She asserts that such laws and amendments go against what this country was founded on, the Declaration of Independence. ", liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Even if your particular brand of happiness is same-sexy happiness," she says.

Maddow goes on to depict what's underway in Mississippi. That state will allow its people to vote next month on a "Personhood Amendment" to decide if they want to change their definition of a person, which, in effect, would ban abortion and, based on the language of the proposed bill, could possibly include banning the right to use birth control. Language from the bill: "The term 'person' or 'persons' shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof."

Maddow further exposes the culture in Mississippi, that most of us probably are shocked to believe exists. In 2004, the same-sex marriage ban was passed with an 86 percent vote of yes by Mississippian voters. That's not surprising, considering most states have passed this ban when they've placed it on the ballot, but wow, a whopping 86 percent. I don't know if such a usually divisive issue would get such an almost unanimous response anywhere else.

But there's more. In March of this year, as Maddow shows, Mississippi Republicans were polled as to whether they think interracial marriage should be legal or illegal. Even though this appeared to be an informal poll, I'm not sure why anyone would conduct it. But Mississippians seemed to show their true colors with 46 percent of them saying interracial marriage should be illegal and 14 percent being unsure; 40 percent said it should be legal, which it already is thanks to something a few decades ago known as the Civil Rights Movement. Maddow sums it up: "So if you ask Mississippi Republicans about interracial marriage in 2011, 60 percent of them think interracial marriage should be illegal or they're not sure. ... This is the political environment in which abortion rights are going to be voted on in November in Mississippi."

Watch the video below from Maddow's segment last night. I respect whatever side of the issues people fall on, but I think this shows the biggest problem with some of this states rights stuff. Once and for all, issues like same-sex marriage need to be decided on a federal level. But most members of U.S. Congress and the Obama Administration--like all presidents before him--don't want to touch it. Instead, they're letting states decide individually. It's an embarrassment to the whole notion of a "United States."


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