It’s been three years since I reluctantly handed in my old license – which had an extraordinarily good picture of me on it – and traded it for a North Carolina license with a picture so bad that I cringe when I have to show my ID to a cashier or waiter. Over those three years, I’ve met many a person, and, you know, they ask questions. And the way that people have responded when I tell them where I’m from would make you think that the only good thing about New Jersey is that they wait until you’re actually ready before snapping your picture in the DMV.
If my loyalty to the Garden State was ever thrown into a state of uncertainty, it was undoubtedly restored to me with an overwhelming ferocity today when I read the headline “Chris Christie Links Civil Rights To Gay Marriage Vote, Draws Sharp Criticism“. There is redemption for all Jerseyites in this. Our governor is calling anti-gay marriage legislation out for what it really is, and is refusing to be the one to let discrimination creep into the Constitution of the state. He’s calling for a referendum vote, just like the one that will take place in North Carolina on May 8th.
The thing is, Gov. Christie is under fire from critics, not because of his opposition to the legislation, but because some believe that leaving the vote up to the populace will mean the end of progress towards equal marriage rights. The polls have shown that the majority of voting NJ residents favor gay marriage, but that hasn’t been enough to block bans in Maine or California, says the article.
I really hope that’s not true. I have faith in my NJ brethren. While we may be big-haired, overly-forward, and unfairly represented in the media by the likes of Snooki, I’ve known too many fair-minded and accepting people in Jersey to believe that anti-gay marriage legislation won’t get shot down faster than you can say “Bon Jovi”. I believe the same of the people I’ve met in Carolina, even if they do make fun of the way I pronounce “Mario”.
While its obvious that New Jersey has its fair share of stereotypes to overcome, North Carolinians are fighting that uphill battle, too. Where I’m from, the South is seen as slightly behind the times, where people are slow and overly conservative. The stellar people who make up my new family in NC have quashed those prejudices in me, but are they definitely still going strong. Nationally, they still define who we are.
So now I’m on two underdog teams. I’ve got two homes to be proud of, and am rooting hard for both of them to beat this amendment down, not only because its the right thing to do, but also to show the rest of the country that despite preconceptions about who we are, North Carolinians and New Jerseyites believe in equality and unity, and will not allow anything else on their turf.