Op-Ed: Trouble in the Tar Heel State
BY Advocate Contributors
September 19 2011 9:40 AM ET
Last week, the North Carolina legislature sent a draconian anti-marriage, anti-family constitutional amendment to the May ballot. That this happened is a travesty of justice in several ways.
First, the public is in a period of great flux on the freedom to marry, in every part of the country — and people across the board are moving our way. North Carolinians are watching shows like Brothers and Sisters, learning the stories of people like openly lesbian country star Chely Wright, and, most importantly, sharing stories of the same-sex couples and families in their own lives. To try to preempt and circumvent these conversations by cementing discrimination into the constitution is pretty desperate, and it’s terribly wrong.
Second, to add insult to injury, in an unholy alliance between antigay Republicans and some spineless Democrats, the legislature reached a “compromise” to advance this cruel constitutional amendment to the ballot, not in November 2012, where turnout would be large, but in May, to coincide with the Republican presidential primary. This is apparently the case because anti-equality Democrats wanted to vote for the bill as long as they were sure it wouldn’t be on the November 2012 ballot, when they thought it could hurt their own chances by driving social conservatives to the polls. And while we are in fact making great headway with Republicans, let’s just say that Republican primary voters in North Carolina are not our best demographic.
Another reason for choosing this election: Recent polling shows that a solid majority (55 percent) of North Carolinians would vote against this amendment. So our opponents’ solution: find the segment of the North Carolina populace that is most likely to vote their way and put it on the ballot when they’re most likely to show up, depriving the majority of their real chance to make a decision (despite the hypocritical call to “let the people vote”).
Third and more fundamentally, it’s terribly wrong to vote on the basic freedoms of a minority group — particularly one that’s been as demonized and discriminated against as gay people. Protecting minority rights is a bedrock of our democracy, and it’s un-American for the majority to violate that principle.
If there’s one community that’s gotten good at dusting itself off, getting back up, and fighting, it’s ours. We’ve been dealt the proverbial lemon — and a rotten one at that. But already, some good has come. As Advocate Washington correspondent Andrew Harmon broke on Thursday, North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller announced that, in the aftermath of the legislature passing the bill, he’s become a cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA, the second member of Congress from North Carolina to sign on.
And now our partner organization Equality North Carolina (one of the most effective statewide LGBT organizations in the country, and one which we were proud to support in putting up a powerful fight in the legislature) has the opportunity to educate voters in the Tar Heel state about why marriage matters to same-sex couples and their families, and how wrong it is to impose a permanent ban on the freedom to marry (and other forms of relationship recognition too) when so many conversations are now taking place.
Freedom to Marry has spent a great deal of time over the past two years engaging in message research and testing, and we feel we’ve “cracked the code” on how to move conflicted voters our way (check out our Why Marriage Matters site to see what we’ve learned). We look forward to working with Equality North Carolina to help make the case that all couples who want to make a lifetime commitment to the person they love and to protect their families deserve the freedom to marry – including couples, kin, and communities in North Carolina.
Marc Solomon is the national campaign director for Freedom to Marry.
Sign Up For Email Updates
- Arts & Entertainment Week in Beef: Ben Cohen, Frank Ocean, Hugh Jackman, and More Shirtless Celebs May 19 2013 6:02 PM
- Sports Griner: Baylor Coach Enforced Closet Policy May 19 2013 5:59 PM
- Politicians Gay Activists Interrupt Marco Rubio Speech May 19 2013 2:03 PM
- Hate-crimes WATCH: Vigil for Hate Crime Victim Mark Carson May 19 2013 1:01 PM
- Comedy WATCH: The Cure for Gay Wedding-Related Depression May 19 2013 12:39 PM
- Television WATCH: Did Stefon Marry Seth Meyers or Anderson Cooper? May 19 2013 12:32 PM
- Crime Gay Man Gunned Down in NYC Street, Dies UPDATED: May 18 2013 7:24 PM