People worked so hard in Maine and were so positive about the outcome. Do you think the marriage issue is just too much right now for some of the public, that we haven't hit the right balance of sharing our lives in a way that they can identify, or gain enough allies, or is it just the tons of negative money being funneled in along with disinformation by the right?
Wow ... [looking pensive] I've been confident that marriage — the word and the idea of it and the rights that come with it — is what we need to be talking about. It's always been my position — talking about marriage and nothing else. But I'll be honest; I'm starting to wonder if that has been the best strategy, particularly given the Washington results [Referendum 71, affirming domestic partnerships]. The only evidence that I have that Washington State would have failed if it was called marriage is, well — California, Maine, and Arizona ... and Georgia ... and Hawaii ... and every other state that has put discrimination into its constitution. Now might be the time to have a conversation ... it takes me from being very confident that marriage and all the rights and responsibilities that comes with it is what we need to be fighting for — using the word every chance we get — to a place of uncertainty. The people of Washington are better off today than the people of Maine, and other than a word — the word marriage — the people of Washington now have everything the Mainers stripped their neighbors of.

Everybody (who is sane) agrees that putting civil rights on the ballot is wrong, not to mention unconstitutional. And it will be found that way, eventually. So, given the losses we've had on this particular issue, do you think that fighting referenda makes any sense, pouring hundreds millions of dollars into these campaigns is worth it?
I don't know [long pause] ... I think we need a little more care about each fight. I'm not convinced that California isn't worth it. I still think we can win California ... I think they should wait until 2012. I think we need to be pulling our people to the polls to vote. It's just much more difficult when you don't have an Obama at the top of the ticket [to pull more minorities to the polls]. I think we can do better the next time he's on the ticket ... in the absence of a high-profile election, there are huge segments of our people [pro-marriage equality] who will not be voting even though they would be with us if we could get them there [the polls]. California is 3,000 miles from here, so perhaps they have some strategies for getting them to the polls or improving turnout on our side. And if they do, I wish them the best.

About Mark Kleinschmidt:

Chapel Hill town council member since December 2001. He was the fifth openly gay North Carolinian to be elected in state history.

Executive director of the Fair Trial Initiative; represented several North Carolina capital defendants in post-conviction litigation; recruited and mentored of young attorneys and their development toward becoming capital trial attorneys. Previously was social studies teacher at West Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, where he was named the 1997 teacher of the year.

Boards and organizations:
North Carolina American Civil Liberties Union, the International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials, the North Carolina Democratic Party, and Equality NC.

Family: His father, Jim Kleinschmidt, is a retired U.S. Air Force chief master sergeant and his mother, Marge Kleinschmidt, is a registered nurse. He has a twin sister, Michelle Barbee, who served as campaign treasurer.