Fighting the Anti-LGBT Constitutional Marriage Amendment in North Carolina
April 19, 2011 by Karin Quimby, Political & Education Director, Project One America
North Carolina is unique in being the only state in the South without a constitutional amendment banning gay and lesbian marriage. HRC is on the ground working with Equality North Carolina to help keep it that way. The North Carolina Senate has introduced a bill to amend the state constitution (Senate Bill 106) to ban any form of relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples, and the House has introduced a narrower version of the bill (House Bill 777) to define marriage as legal only between a man and woman, which will also amend the state constitution. If these bills pass each chamber and are reconciled, North Carolina can expect a long and nasty fight in 2012 as the constitutional amendment goes up for a vote of people.
Fortunately, fair-minded North Carolinians are mobilizing now to make the case to legislators that all those in North Carolina deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and equality.
I headed down to Charlotte last week to check in with HRC’s regional field organizer, Jess Osborn, who has been mobilizing the Charlotte grassroots community, collecting over 1500 pro-equality postcards from supporters. She’s working out of the beautiful new Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Community Center that was buzzing with activity.
HRC’s Scott Bishop, and other HRC volunteer leaders, are hard at work talking to business leaders across the state. Their message is resounding: This amendment is bad for business—it creates a hostile environment for gay and lesbian workers and their families that will prevent businesses from recruiting the very best employees. As we know, much of corporate America is well ahead of the curve in recognizing the value of treating everyone equally. Check out HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for how companies based in North Carolina, and elsewhere, rank.
I also visited Winston-Salem to meet with Chevara Orrin, an administrator at Winston-Salem State University, an historically black university. Chevara is the founder and advisor to the University’s Gay-Straight Student Alliance, and is one of the most dynamic and savvy straight allies I’ve ever met. She directed me to numerous supporters who can lend their voice to our campaign to keep this discriminatory amendment out of the North Carolina constitution.
Perhaps my most moving meeting, however, was with an African American minister who told me “he’s not there yet,” but with the care and sincerity of his questions, I knew he was well on his way. In fact, I’m not sure who was more changed by the meeting. I left thinking that the conversation this minister was willing to have was an indication of how far we have come, how we can today have respectful, meaningful, even joyful conversations about our shared humanity and our struggle for justice.
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