Where do I begin? It's just the beginning for North Carolina after the passage of Amendment One
I'm sitting here thinking about all of the blood, sweat and tears poured into this battle to defeat Amendment One here in NC. It looks like is NC had the highest turnout for a primary here in a quarter century -- 37%. Only 18% were expected to vote.
The constitutional amendment defining marriage in North Carolina as between one man and one woman appears like it will pass. With 30 percent of precincts reporting, those in favor of the amendment lead those against 57 percent to 43 percent.
But in the end, more on the other side felt motivated to show up and cast a ballot and too many people decided not to bother. And unfortunately, they chose to determine the civil rights of a minority in the name of "protecting" marriage -- something that wasn't in any jeopardy to begin with.
I can feel good about the city in which I live, Durham, where the amendment was shot down 70%-30%.
As someone who lives here and has to live in the aftermath of this loss, there aren't enough words to express how grateful I am to so many people some who put their lives on hold, spent time learning about and writing about NC than you ever thought you would; people of all ages, faiths (or none at all), and political persuasions calling, and building coalitions offline and online to make it clear that what happens in NC is important to the equality movement at large.
There has been hard work from people on their own time and dime, hard work by the Campaign to Protect All NC Families, and yeoman work by individuals who wrote letters to the editor, made phone calls and canvassed to grab every last voter they could to the polls. This is what helped this record turnout take place.
We were able to highlight the broad political opposition to this amendment -- progressives, conservatives, libertarians -- and show the narrow and narrow-minded band of support for the amendment. The problem is that the latter was deep, and frightened by the bible beating and threat of something happening to "traditional marriage," whatever that is in a country with a 50% divorce rate.
Building the coalition -- assembling the diverse partners involved in this battle has been quite a handful, and it has paid off in dividends. The social justice infrastructure that has grown and been extended and is highly visible now -- this can have lasting political repercussions for progressive politics in North Carolina -- and that helps the equality movement nationally in the end.
What is the key issue here is that a battle about marriage and legal rights for unmarried couples is not what North Carolina needed, and was forced into it by craven lawmakers and bigots who wanted an easy political club -- homophobia -- as a GOTV tool. It shouldn't have been on the ballot in the first place, but it was, prematurely leapfrogging an issue that the state was not ready to handle.
As I've told my marriage equality advocate friends many times, for those of us in states where we do not even have employment protections -- you can be fired for being LGBT here, no questions asked -- we won't see same-sex marriage until the U.S. Supreme Court makes it happen.
The coalition-building here has afforded North Carolinians for the first time to discuss the rights of LGBT neighbors and friends. It has shown the country that yes, the South has politically active voters of strong faith that are against discrimination for all of the right reasons -- it's not a matter of religion at all, but about the separation of church and state and protecting and extending the rights of minorities, not restricting them.
For those clinging to that notion in order to hide their own homophobia it has become challenging to defend their decision to vote for the Amendment. Not for those who see no separation of church and state, mind you, but those who are fuzzy on what they choose to believe in the Bible when it suits their needs.
But we won't forget the support and love from many on the ground here and in digital space around the country.
The majority of North Carolinians voting today don't believe that my civil marriage (legal depending on what state we travel to), should be recognized. While perhaps some subset probably didn't know they were banning civil unions and domestic partnerships (at this point, one has to believe these folks are pretty dense), the most vocal proponents of Amendment One not only wanted to "protect marriage," they wanted to punish lesbian and gay couples. Apparently even at the expense of economic development and jobs or collateral harms to unmarried opposite couples and children, or what will now be legal chaos over all of these harms and the possible impact on private contracts as well.
It's hard to view anyone who believes that is moral in any sense of the definition.
But what they cannot do is shove our relationships back into a closet. We are here, we are families. We are taxpayers.
BlueNC is dedicated to freedom and fairness for the people of North Carolina. If you share that vision, welcome. If your intention is to disrupt our efforts, please find somewhere else to express your opinions.
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