With North Carolina Loss, Momentum Still in Direction of LGBT Equality
Despite disappointing vote, public opinion continues shift toward fairness
Washington – Tonight North Carolina’s discriminatory and overreaching Amendment One passed, banning marriage and other forms of relationship recognition for gays and lesbians. The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, expressed disappointment in the vote, but characterized it as a temporary setback in the fight for equality.
“The passage of Amendment One is a heartbreaking loss for families in North Carolina, but will not stop us in the march toward full equality,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “As the country continues to move in the direction of marriage equality, our opponents have cynically interrupted the important conversations taking place which lead to increased understanding and acceptance.”
Support for these constitutional amendments has been dropping over the years as support for marriage equality continues to rise nationwide. In 2004 similar amendments passed on average 71 percent to 29 percent. In 2008, the margin shrank from 57 percent to 43 percent. The average for these amendments in the South has been 75 percent to 25 percent. More on the history of state constitutional marriage bans is at: www.hrc.org/resources/entry/state-constitutional-marriage-bans.
Prior to the vote, the May 1 PPP poll showed voters under age 30 opposed the amendment by 26 points and in addition, reports indicate that youth turnout was significantly high during the early voting period. Tellingly, NC House Speaker Thom Tillis also recently said the issue was generational and that the amendment would be repealed in 20 years.
“Marriage is a tremendously motivating issue for younger voters, and we’ve seen an outpouring of energy against this amendment from youth,” said Solmonese. “Elected officials would be wise to tap into this enthusiasm.”
The amendment, which made it to the ballot after Republicans took control of both houses of the state legislature in 2010, could strip legal protections and healthcare coverage from children, threaten basic protections that all unmarried couples rely on, and harm unmarried seniors. Polling shows that when voters understood how far-reaching Amendment One was, they turned against it – but only 40 percent even knew the amendment banned civil unions.
“Our opponents were unfortunately successful in masking the broad nature of this measure,” said Solmonese. “Were it not for their lies, voters would have understood the harm that this amendment will inflict on thousands of North Carolina families and would have voted against it.”
HRC is proud to have been a founding member of the Coalition to Protect All NC Families and applauds all of the member organizations’ efforts against Amendment One. HRC had staff on the ground for months leading a robust field, campus and faith outreach effort. In cash and in-kind contributions including staff resources, HRC’s commitment to the campaign against Amendment One was nearly $500,000.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.