To all of you who fought so hard against Amendment One:

To all of you who worked so hard to fight against Amendment One: I want to thank you for showing the world that North Carolina is more than just a backward southern state. I want to thank you for standing up for the rights of others. I want to thank you for giving my 14-year old daughter and her friends something to care about, something that has made them all think about the world they will soon inherit. And I want to thank you for accomplishing something I never thought I would see in my lifetime: you awoke hundreds of thousands of people and created a coalition that crosses geographic, ideological and racial boundaries. Though you lost this battle, by uniting North Carolina against prejudice and fear, you have made it possible for us to win the war. If we stay united, I am convinced we can stop the conservative far right in our state and move North Carolina forward again.

I know that many of you poured your heart and soul into the fight. And I know that, for many of you, it was a very personal issue. I fear that you may feel abandoned and disenfranchised by the outcome. I apologize to you all for the misguided actions of my fellow North Carolinians and I ask that instead of wasting energy hating them for their ignorance and their fear, that you pour that energy into making sure that this awful amendment is their final stand. Here are just a few of the things you can do with your anger and your time. I hope you will add your ideas to the list:

Vote them out of office: Many people who voted for the amendment had no idea what they were doing, but the same cannot be said for their leaders. Conservative leaders in NC are very deliberately using issues like gay marriage to inflame their base in preparation for more damaging legislation intended to consolidate power in the hands of a very few. It is time to fight conservative lawmakers in every corner of our state. It is time to stop letting them win by default. It is time to make them work harder than they had ever had to work before to keep their power, to make them spend more than they ever thought they would have to spend to win even the smallest of fights. No matter how conservative the county may be where you live, it is time to run candidates against change-resistant lawmakers in both parties. Expose their donor lists to their communities so people understand just how bought and paid for they are. Call them out at forums and other campaign events. Fight them every step of the way. If there is no one else to run against them, then you run against them. No more free rides.

Close North Carolina's borders to the national far right: This amendment was part of a broader plan by ultra-conservatives to take over state houses nationwide. They won this particular fight in North Carolina, but we do not have to let them win any more parts of their agenda. Attempts will be made to revive the voter photo ID Bill and other far right legislation, and there will be many new bills introduced in Raleigh over the next few years that seek to take away the rights of anyone who is not exactly like them. Stay involved. Pay attention. March. Write letters. Contact your representatives. Speak up long and loud against further far right legislation that seeks to rob others of their rights and consolidate power in the hands of the very few. To stay abreast of what the far right is attempting, you can sign up with my organization, Progress North Carolina to become active on a wide range of issues; sign up to support Democracy North Carolina and fight to protect voting rights and the democratic process; follow developments in the legislature by visiting NC Policy Watch regularly or by reading Facing South; and take on any of the issues advocated for by any of the amazing nonprofits listed on this page, all of whom were brave enough and committed enough to stand against Amendment One.

Hold them accountable: When this badly-worded amendment lands our state in court, and it will, North Carolina will be facing huge legal costs. We must hold the people who introduced this bill and who voted for it accountable for every penny of these costs. They were warned by legal experts it would happen and they plowed ahead anyway. The waste of taxpayer dollars ahead of us is on them. Make them own it.

Keep fighting for your rights: If you find that this amendment takes away any of your rights or protections, fight it with every weapon you have. Let the world know what has happened to you or to your children and other loved ones, and take your battle to the courts if you have to. We must hold the people who passed this amendment responsible for what they did. Do not take it sitting down. Join the ACLU and let them know if your rights are violated.

Boycott unsupportive businesses: If a local business or service provider supported Amendment One and posted signs publicly urging others to do the same, then take your business elsewhere permanently. If they consider you or someone you love a second-class citizen, they are unworthy of your dollars. Conversely, if there were people or businesses that stood tall and fought against Amendment One, steer your business their way. We must not reward hatred and bigotry. Let the far right make their money off of someone else.

Keep religion out of government: It is time to end the expectation of Christian conservatives that they have a special right to power in our government. They don't. They count no more than you or I. If they do not remember that America was founded specifically so that no one religion could ever take precedence over another, then we will remind them. Churches were given a great deal of latitude when it came to Amendment One, but they do not have the same right to participate in elections or candidate campaigns. You know who these churches are in your community. Don't let them get away with more than what they are legally entitled to do. Keep an eye on them. If you see any of them endorsing any candidates or advocating for a political party, gather proof and call the IRS. They deserve to lose their tax exempt status. On a broader scale, it is time to take religion out of North Carolina’s local governments for good. The ACLU is fighting to remove prayer from public meetings and they could use your help. Visit their website to learn more.

Fight their dollars with your grassroots strength: The far right is pouring millions and millions of dollars into an effort to turn all of America far to the right, using the Citizens United ruling and Super PACs to bankroll millions of unregulated television ads and other propaganda material that hold little relation to the truth. Liberal-leaning donors have made it plain that they do not intend to get into an arms race with the far right on this score. Instead, they are relying on voter outreach and grassroots mobilization to win at the ballot box. That means you. You are the only one that can make this strategy work. Don't let this week go by without signing up to help an organization register forward-thinking voters and then volunteer for a campaign for a candidate who can defeat the far right on Election Day.

Stay visible: Show up. Be there at rallies and town halls. Don’t let incumbents stage lovefests for themselves by trying to confine public events to their supporters. Hold signs, introduce yourself, physically stand in front of conservative lawmakers and let them know that you are watching. Confront them with what they have done. You have every right to take part in the shaping of North Carolina's future. Don't let them make you invisible by taking away your rights and then intimidating you into silence. Get in their faces. Be there.

Return the favor: The coalition against Amendment One was amazing in its diversity. No battle over an issue in recent memory has united so many different types of North Carolinians. Understand that for some who were on your side, it was a new experience. For the first time, they understood that the discrimination you are facing is every bit the same as the discrimination they have had to live with for hundreds of years. Specifically, support the African-American community in NC. Join them in their fight against attempts to limit access to the ballot box, such as the voter ID bill; fight to keep the Racial Justice Act in place; and fight thinly-veiled racist legislation when it comes. Few people fought harder than Rev. Barber against Amendment One. His leadership of the NAACP as they took a stand against this amendment was historic. Let him know you noticed. The black community had our back, now let's have theirs. Remember: united we stand.

I’m sad tonight and I know it was a sad day for many North Carolinians. When the sun rises tomorrow morning, it is a certainty that no one's marriage will be any stronger or safer because of today’s vote. That is a bizarre, delusional concept clung to by frightened, ignorant people and the leaders who manipulate their emotions. But it is also a certainty that hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians will wake up feeling insulted, attacked, disenfranchised and alone. Let them know they are not alone. We fought this fight together and, if we stay together, we can absolutely win the war.

It is my belief and my hope that this amendment will prove to be the biggest mistake the far right in North Carolina ever made. It is my hope and my belief that this amendment will be the conservative right’s last stand. This amendment was a last ditch effort to stop the forces of change and, as we all know, the one thing you cannot stop is time. They can spread fear, tell lies, and scare people into taking their side, but there is absolutely nothing they can do to keep change away forever. Every day that passes, the old, white, conservative power structure in North Carolina erodes just a little. Every day that passes, the diversity of North Carolina grows. Every day that passes, more and more younger people come of age and start to pay attention. Change is coming and it’s coming fast. The fight against Amendment One helped us make great strides toward a new North Carolina. Let's use that momentum and let's keep going.

If you have any ideas about how we can use what we have learned during the Amendment One fight to take down the far right, please post it below. The time to fight even harder is now.

Comments

It's amazing to me how....

.. mainstream the debate about Amendment One became. I heard it talked about everywhere I went, teenagers were blowing up Facebook and Twitter over it, I heard strangers asking each other about it. As someone who has tried to get people to care about issues for a long time now, it was astounding how much Amendment One became part of people's consciousness. And that is all due to the organizations that worked against it and all the people who trooped in and out of my office space working with all of their hearts and souls against it. I just truly hope that many of the people who worked against it stay involved and continue to fight the far right. We cannot let the mindset represented by Amendment One prevail in North Carolina. There's too much at stake.

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

Amendment One and Done

If North Carolina had an upcoming Progressive image, it no longer does as of today. It is now just another "solid south" state with a constitutional ban on gay marriage. A "constitutional" ban, not just local or regulatory bans on gay unions mind you.
The image of the state sadly returns to "hate talk" status and one of civil war reenactors restrategizing the "northern war of agression."
The reality of this state is that it does have pockets or progressivity, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, but that's it. The state has spoken and reiterated its deep social conservative roots. Billy and Franklin Graham are folk heroes here--and dumb me, I thought Billy Graham died in the last century.

We can hope and ponder "what could be" for the 2012 elections, but don't hold your breath. It looks like the older generation en masse wants to remain in the 19th Century, and will force the rest of us to do so along with them.

There is a beacon of hope in this world, however. It is called France-- where they have just elected an enlightened socialist, Francois Hollande. I suggest we pack our bags.

The Sage of Wake Forest

and then there's always this:

If you're desperate for some hope:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=222875061148919&set=a.11989743144...

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

Get mad

I'd like to add "Get mad" to your excellent list, Katy. As an ex-progressive-turned-radical, it looks to me like a healthy dose of righteous indignation is in order. Progressives have gotten too good at taking punches ... and not nearly good enough at throwing them.

____________________________________

“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

I could not agree more

I think our southern culture of politeness has hurt us in this regard. I have been going around the state with my Progress NC colleagues since September listening to Thom Tillis tell people things I cannot believe they just accepted and took without at least standing up to him, if not confronting him. It took until Davidson County for someone to give it back to him as good as he tried to give, and McDowell County before someone ripped him a new one. It is way past time for people to get mad!

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

Go on the offensive

Today is the first day I can remember ever being ashamed of being a North Carolinian. The sad thing about this vote is that there was just enough hope to believe that it wouldn't pass, but in the end we simply cannot overcome the strength of dogmatic religion and its sway on our politics in this state.

I think the ideas you post are very good and certainly we should continue the energy we had while fighting this - it needs to be re-channeled into something else. But I cannot help but think that this energy needs to be more aggressive at this point. Not violent, certainly, but some united front that says "We are not vanquished, just pissed off."

As to what that should look like, I am not sure but the message should be clear. I like what the We Do Campaign will begin doing tomorrow (www.southernequality.org) in demanding marriage licenses but I also wonder if there is not something more we can do with the coalition that has already been built so that we keep working together. Boycotts, marches, even bumper stickers - something like "We Still Love." Although we can certainly do things on an individual level I think we need to continue working together (given that the broadness of support was unprecedented) so that we have a much stronger voice.

That's a great idea, Tyson

An on-going campaign like that would make people even stronger, give opportunities for payback, keep the coalition together, make it plain no one is going away to sit in a corner and keep emphasizing the incredibly important role the LGBT community plays in making North Carolina a great place to live.

Paging Equality NC!

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

Thanks

Thanks, Katy. I just know that when you face something like this alone, it is easy to get discouraged. Since those connections are already there, we can make a more concerted effort, particularly on the political front as you mentioned - voting the bigots out. This is an election year after all and the fact that this vote occurred during the primary may actually work to our advantage in that regard. If the majority of North Carolinians would have voted against this if educated about it, then lets keep educating and holding our legislators responsible.

Right on!

I'm too exhausted to come up with words to express how meaningful it is to me that so many friends and allies stood so strong, and are making the commitment to keep on fighting, but I appreciate it.

I'd like to suggest a place to start...

Tax exemption for religious organizations is not part of our Constitution. The IRS has some rules about such organizations non-participation in electioneering. I'd like to suggest everyone file a complaint with the IRS (form available on their web site) against the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and seek revocation of their tax-exempt status. The full page ad in the Wilmington Star News urging passage of Amendment One is public knowledge of the Association's meddling. I suspect the ad appeared elsewhere too.

I think the form is the same form the IRS uses to encourage people to use to report tax cheats...and there is a place to specify that the "charitable organization" is engaging in practices not allowed for 501c organizations.

It's a start. Even if unsuccessful, inquiries from the IRS might give them pause to think about activities that could make it hard for their leaders to continue to live opulently at the expense of many of the tax-payers they denigrate with their bible-thumping BS.

Stan Bozarth

Tax exempt status

As my pastor made his public statement opposing the amendment, he clarified this rule: churches cannot endorse candidates, but they can speak out on issues. Since the amendment involved no candidates, there is no reason ads violate the tax exemption rules.

I was afraid that might be the case...

In any event, perhaps we could all lobby for churches that spend less than 51% of their income on true charitable purposes be denied tax exempt status.

Stan Bozarth

IRS turn ins

I turned in CHARITY FREE WILL BAPTIST CHURCH of WENDELL, NC. I wrote that in capitals so everyone knows who I'm talking about. Their marquee has said for the last 2 months " Vote to Ban Sexual Perversion on May 8" Hmmm. Hmpph. I was advised as another said that they CAN write that CRAP on their marquee because their allowed to speak out on amendments and such but not politicians/candidates. If their sign wasn't bad enough, one of their parishoners came by my home one Saturday morning to extend an offer for my family (consisting of my female partner and our daughter) to come to one of their Sundays. Since I'm not much on religon, I really didn't pay attention to he and his teenage son, and then it hit me to ask him, "I'm sorry, what did you say the name of your church was?"
He replied, "Charity Free Will Baptist Church. We're over on Wendell Blvd, just down the road."
MY response, "Oh, huh. Well, I'm sorry again, but we will not be attending your church because we don't agree with your sign."
He looked at me perplexed and not sure what to say. I shut the door and he walked away.
Over the last few months I didn't know we were voting to actually legalize sexual perversion. Shit, I would have totally voted FOR that amendment!!!

the morning after

I wish I could feel better about the vote and the fight. Maybe later, after there's time to absorb all of it. I don't feel good about it right now. Just kind of dirty and sad to live here in this state.

Thanks for your voice

There is so much to be done. This going to be an ugly battle. I was born and raised and educated in NC. I now live in Chicagoland and New England. I feel as if I have a special connection to NC, much like the way I do to my mother--although she died this past fall, she will always be my mother. NC will always be my home, and it hurts to see the ridiculous slide backwards in terms of the respect of people who live there, especially those who are NOT white, male, ultra-conservative, Bible-bigots. This causes me great pain. I am an "outlier" statistically--I am a white, male, progressive Democrat, with a pragmatic, personalitistic theology. It is very frustrating to speak out against he racist, bigoted, narrow-minded ignorance of the majority political party, only to be verbally abused and ganged-up on by the good-ole boys and their gun-toting avatars. But I persist.

I challenge my old high school friends, and especially a school-mate cum-state rep with who I attended school. I friend them and try to debate the issues. I protest the ridiculous legislation, sponsored in the name of battling the "liberals" and their Socialist/Communist/Kenyan/Black/Muslim/antichrist President. I follow on Facebook and Twitter and attempt to rebut every horrendous effort to carry concealed guns anywhere and everywhere, in order to protect them from the "criminal element" and voter fraud and polygamy.

I encourage everyone to doggedly track these NCGA members on Facebook and Twitter. They will try to block you and unfriend you. They will shut down the ability to comment. Just copy and paste from their websites and public pages, then add your questions. Find articles in their district newspapers and jump into the online forum to challenge them. You will be insulted and attacked by their supporters, but keeping up the pressure is key. You are so going in the right direction, Katy! Keep up the fight.

I recently challenged some old acquaintances

about their bigotry and was attacked for disturbing their harmony.

They don't want to argue...they just want things their way and if you challenge them you're some kind of nutcase....and yet I think some go away wondering if maybe there's something to think about. It's a long struggle.

Welcome to BlueNC. Nice post.

Stan Bozarth

Thank you, Chris

Your post made my day. I appreciate it. And I LOVE your suggestion about dogging NCGA members on FB and challenging them about the issues on-line. We are definitely adding that to our strategy at Progress NC -- thanks!

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

We keep going backwards

It is such a sad state of affairs we are creating for the future generations as well as our own with terrible legislation such as this. Yes, it is awesome the amount of discussions that have started and the amount of people finally waking up to what our politicians are doing. The kids are talking about it and discussing it in classes such as civics and history. BUT with two teenagers in high school, I will say many of the discussions were swayed by the teachers by their own personal feelings on the topic rather than complete disclosure of the facts. Also, I feel that there was not enough information about the entirety of the bill. Everyone was focused so completely on the gay marriage portion of the bill and allowed their personal predjudices to rule their decisions. I wasn't hearing hardly any information on the other section for all domestic partnerships and how they will be impacted. Many have been lead to believe that this just kept "those gays" from ever being able to marry. But what they didn't think about was how many hetero couples have now lost their rights too. My husband and I were domestic partners for 8yrs before we decided to marry. It was our children from previous marriages that had ask us to please NOT get married right away and asked for us to all live together first for awhile. The oldest was 8 at the time and had very sold reasons she expressed very clearly to us and we agreed. When we moved here in 2005 from the west coast, I actually had someone we were doing business with ask me how I was going to answer to God for having my children living in sin and what a disgrace we were for living together and God would never allow us into heaven unless we married and repented. This was my insurance person for goodness sakes! We were transferring our policy to NC. We ran into this over and over again.... we didn't relent. We waited until our family was ready for us to marry and we did it to protect us from laws such as this one so that if something happened to either of us, we would have our rights and not have to deal with hypocrites. Amendment One not only hurt the rights of gays and lesbians...this has stripped ALL of us! The impact as time goes on will be massive and very,very ugly. Hatred, intolerance, ignorance ...these are taught to the younger generations. We need to bring them into the fold and open their eyes as well. My youngest daughter (15) had a boyfriend who did nothing but gay bashing and was extremely homophobic. I asked him about it and was astounded when he could not give me one solid, viable answer for his hatred. So he was over for dinner and so was my oldest daughter's gay best friend (they were 19 and the younger were 15). We had dinner and laughed and had a great time. The two guys connected well and talked about all kinds of topics and just had a blast. A few days later, I asked the boyfriend what he thought of our friend and he just raved how cool he was and smart...."gotta get together with him sometime cuz I learned some cool stuff". Then I informed him that our friend is gay. The realization of his unbiased hatred hit him like a brick and now he thinks differently because his eyes were opened to a real person with real feelings who is no different than himself other than his sexual orientation. I hope for all of those that voted yes on Amendment One have an opportunity for a life changing experience like the one this young man did. May they all have a loved one close to them who is gay/lesbian/transgender and let them have to look that loved one in the eye and explain why they stripped their rights to love and have a marriage just like they do.

Welcome...and thanks for a terrific

story. It's so true that many people hate on other people for no good reason.

Stan Bozarth