How we talk about an issue affects how we think about it. . . . Today’s vote in North Carolina is not about banning anything. Nothing will be made illegal as a result. In all fifty states across the nation two people of the same sex can live together, have their religious community bless their union, and have their workplace offer them various joint benefits—if the religious communities and workplaces in question so desire. Many liberal houses of worship and progressive businesses have voluntarily decided to do so. There’s nothing illegal about this. There’s no ban on it.
What’s at issue is whether the government will recognize such unions as marriages—and then force every citizen and business to do so as well. This isn’t the legalization of something, this is the coercion and compulsion of others to recognize and affirm same-sex unions as marriages. . . .
The same-sex marriage debate is so frequently framed in terms of granting gays and lesbians the freedom to do what they wish that few people realize that they already have that freedom—the question is whether the rest of society will have the freedom to choose which type of relationship to honor as marriage. Public discourse needs to more carefully reflect the issues at stake. . . .
Voters in North Carolina today are not voting to ban anything. They are voting to define what marriage is. They are voting to protect the union of a man and woman as something unique and irreplaceably important.