Election official resigns over NC’s anti-gay marriage amendment

Harnett County’s longtime Director of Elections opted to step down from her post last week rather than help facilitate the May 8th vote on the anti-gay marriage amendment.

Sherre Toler said while she was especially proud of operating the election’s office in a fair manner for more than a decade, she could not remain silent about the ballot initiative defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

In an email to BlueNC and Pam’s House Blend, Toler writes that she refused to be a party to the legislative majority’s attempt to write discrimination into the state Constitution:

“It is important to a free society that civil rights not be subject to a popular vote!”

Here’s more from Toler’s letter:

If “marriage” were simply a religious institution, this would not be an issue. Different faiths are free to impose whatever moral restrictions they choose on their congregations and they in turn are free to accept or reject those restrictions. From a psychological and emotional perspective, marriage provides the individuals an opportunity to demonstrate their love for each other by committing themselves to this “special” relationship. In addition, marriage provides the participants in the relationship with a myriad of legal rights and special status, including inheritance and property rights as well as insurance and tax benefits. Marriage provides over 1000 legal rights and protections. The so-called “Defense of Marriage” Act seeks to ensure that anyone wishing to marry their partner of the same gender will be DENIED those legal rights. The broad language of the referendum could also impact private contracts between individuals, powers of attorney, and domestic partnerships, including heterosexual ones.

Slavery, discrimination and segregation represent a tremendous blight upon the great history of this country. Not so long ago, “marriage” between those of different races, particularly black and white, was prohibited by law and this ban was supported by the “Majority”. In 2011, Public Policy Polling conducted a poll of Republican voters in Mississippi and a number of them (46%) believe that not only in their opinion is interracial marriage wrong but that it should be ILLEGAL.

Only 40% indicated they believe it should be legal. There can be little doubt that if interracial marriage were put to a majority vote, some jurisdictions would outlaw those marriages as well.

And Toler apparently is not giving her resignation a second thought. She’s starting a political consultant firm that will begin by working to defeat the amendment.

You can read more about her decision over at Pam’s House Blend, where Pam Spaulding has an interview with Toler.

5 Comments

  1. Adam Searing

    January 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Go Sherre Toler!

  2. david esmay

    January 11, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Sherre Toler thank you for your moral and political courage, and for recognizing the fact that the government’s job is to protect pre-existing rights of every individual, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is not the business of government to enforce what the christian right considers God’s law, theology, or Vatican edicts. The conservative right wing in this country would create a totalitarian theocracy if we turned a blind eye to their political and social ambitions. When right-wingers speak of, or use the words “Tradition” and “Traditional”, let us be reminded that when they employ this language, it more often than not means they seek to deny equal rights to others. After all, theological tradition was the arguement to endorse slavery.

  3. James

    January 11, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Roy Cooper could take a lesson in morality from this Harnett County woman.

  4. Jack

    January 11, 2012 at 11:18 am

    No doubt Ms. Toler got the old “But if you resign someone else will come in and just to it any way,” line.

    Sherre, thank you for taking action that makes a meaningful statement and your on going effort, as a consultant, to remain an effective citizen of NC.

  5. alice bordsen

    January 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Brava! to Sherre Toler. Her resignation took bravery, honesty, and a true belief in the kind of government we are supposed to have. I especially like her assertion that our civil rights not be subject to a majority vote.