Life in the Hate State

categories: Cocktail Hour


The following is from Daniel Nathan Terry, a poet and Wilmington, NC resident:

On April 17th, I wrote an open letter, a plea for equality, asking North Carolinians to vote Against Amendment One. I was heartened by the response; the letter was posted on blogs and translated into other languages, including Italian, Finnish, and Spanish. My fiancé and I voted early, and On May 7th, we were married in the District of Columbia. On that day, I believed in us, our home, and our nation.

The next day, we returned home to church signs commanding their congregations to vote for the amendment, to yard signs asking neighbors to deny rights to their neighbors.

Still, I believed in us, in our home state, and in our nation.

But when we woke the next morning, that had changed. I still believed in us, but, when I looked at my wedding band (which I’d worn for less than two days), I no longer believed in our nation. And I knew that I was no longer home.

Daniel Nathan Terry
May 10, 2012

 Here is the original letter:

Dear Friends and Fellow North Carolina Residents,

 On May 7th, my partner and I will be married in Washington, DC. After sixteen years together, of facing many of the difficulties most couples endure, we are overjoyed that this day is finally on our doorstep.

 Well, not on our doorstep, but on the doorstep of an office in a courthouse in DC.

 We are not wealthy, although we work most of our waking lives. We both teach six classes a semester at NC colleges, and we work year-round. As an adjunct for two colleges, I have no health insurance, and (although we have been together for over a decade and a half) NC does not recognize us as domestic partners; therefore, I am not eligible to gain insurance under my partner’s policy. As many of you know, I suffered a spinal injury 9 years ago. My current medical expenses add up to about $1000.00 a month. It is, to say the least, a strain on our family.

 Also, as we are unable to marry in our home state, we will spend thousands on airfare, hotels, and so on–something we would not do. If we had a choice, we would spend what money we can muster on a party for our friends. We do not want new suits, flowers, a DJ, or any of the other trappings. But we will still spend the money others might spend on such things just to have the right to be legally married elsewhere–in DC, where we are given the “right” to marry.

 Among the other 50-plus rights that married couples have which are denied to Ben and me, is the right of hospital visitation. The last time I was taken to an emergency room, Ben had to claim he was my brother. And, should one of us leave this life before the other (the saddest thing two in love may endure), the one left behind would have no legal claim to all that we have built together–this includes the poetry and art we have produced since we met (something we prize beyond most things).

 Beyond these legal and practical matters, there is also the emotional and psychological damage that is done by knowing that in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of some of your neighbors, you are considered inferior–even as you struggle to do good work for your community, your students, and your country.

 I know that many of you are already with us. I know that you love and support us. But I am asking you to consider reposting and widely circulating this open letter–this plea–for equality.

 Early voting begins on the 19th. Please vote AGAINST Amendment One.


As always, my best wishes and love to you,

Daniel Nathan Terry

 Daniel Nathan Terry, a former landscaper and horticulturist, is the author of Capturing the Dead (NFSPS 2008), which won The Stevens Prize, and a chapbook, Days of Dark Miracles (Seven Kitchens Press 2011). His second full-length book, Waxwings, is forthcoming from Lethe Press in July of 2012. His poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in many journals and anthologies, including New South, Poet Lore, Chautauqua, and Collective Brightness. He teaches English at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

  1. Rahul Dave writes:

    And this is one more reason I am so happy to be a MassHole!

  2. Tommy writes:

    What have hetero’s done to protect the sanctity of marriage in the last 40 years! Love the tough guy quote from GQ. Health Insurance is a problem that’s not likely to go away. As for transfer of property – get a will!! AS for your marriage – Congratulations!!!!

  3. Richard Gilbert writes:

    Based on your headline, I was sure this was going to be about Ohio, where I am. Everything’s gonna work out, I have no doubt, but these ignorant ugly flaps will continue meantime (1,000 years?).

  4. Bill writes:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Right, so called conservatives?

  5. George de Gramont writes:

    One hell of an essay. It is so easy to be ignorant & mean & that is why essays like this are important. As to the future of our Country , I am keeping my fingers crossed.