Local Politics

Campaign to reject NC gay marriage vote begins

Posted January 18, 2012

— Opponents of a gay marriage ban on statewide ballots in May said their campaign starting Wednesday to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment aims at persuading voters the change would have broad consequences beyond discriminating against same-sex couples.

Representatives of the Coalition to Protect All North Carolina Families talked about their campaign to have supporters engage in 1 million one-on-one conversations with families and friends about the amendment, which needs approval from a majority of votes cast to enter the state constitution.

The coalition also will begin Jan. 27 a series of events across the state to discuss with the public the harm the amendment would cause if approved. They said it would prevent state-sanctioned civil unions and domestic partnerships besides placing in the constitution what is already state law — that traditional marriage is the only kind recognized.

North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast that doesn't limit marriage to a man and a woman in its constitution. Thirty states have similar constitutional restrictions but gay marriage is now legalized in six states and the District of Columbia. That has led activists on both sides of the issue to see the scheduled May 8 primary vote as one that could influence other states.

Coalition campaign manager Jeremy Kennedy said at the campaign's statewide launch event the umbrella group represents all kinds of people from different kinds of family relationships, not just gays and lesbians.

"Our coalition is built to protect all of those families from those very real harms," Kennedy said at the Legislative Building news conference, standing in front of civil rights advocates, ministers, gay rights activists and others.

Speakers offered many ways the amendment could harm gay and straight couples, married or unmarried. They said it could weaken or eliminate child custody and visitation rights and domestic violence protection laws, discourage businesses from expanding or setting up shop in North Carolina because of an unwelcoming environment for gays, and end benefits to partners of local government employees.

"There are so many everyday forms of discrimination that we endure when we are a same-sex couple, and to get by I've just learned to put it out of mind," said Sherri Zann Rosenthal, an assistant Durham city attorney whose same-sex partner could lose health benefits if the amendment were approved.

Rosenthal, who was at the event on her own behalf, said she's less able to ignore bias now that a proposed amendment "might sweep away the small bits of fairness that have been extended to us" and make her a "perpetual second-class citizen."

"The beauty of a constitution is that it protects the rights of everyone, not just certain categories of people in certain groups. It's supposed to protect all of us," said Stacey Poston, who recently got engaged to her partner of 13 years and plans to marry in another state.

"The amendment is really writing discrimination into our constitution," she said. "It's not necessary. It's overkill. We already can't get married in North Carolina."

Amendment backers say opponents are exaggerating the effects of the amendment, which supporters successfully got the Legislature last September to put on the ballot this spring.

Civil unions and domestic partnerships already are illegal in North Carolina, and cities and counties could still be able to create methods to give partners of employee benefits if they chose, said Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of the Vote FOR Marriage NC Referendum Committee.

"The other side is trying to overplay the issue. The amendment is about defining marriage as between a man and a woman in the constitution," Fitzgerald said, adding that "the public can understand it and see through all of this other rhetoric on the other side."

The amendment, she said, has nothing to do with benefits and said it isn't about unfairness or inequality.

"It has everything to do with defining in our constitution an institution that has a historical and longstanding definition. It isn't intended to be discriminatory but to strengthen the current law," she said.

Amendment supporters have said the additional constitutional protection will make it harder for a legal challenge by same-sex couples from other states who want their marriages to be recognized.

The amendment passed the General Assembly after it was bottled up for years when Democrats controlled the Legislature. The Republicans gained a majority in both chambers for the first time in 140 years after the 2010 elections.

What the gay marriage opponents fail to see is society is more pluralistic today, and that love between two men or two women and the families they care for are just as worthy of protecting those families based on heterosexual couples, news conference speakers said.

"It wasn't long ago when race determined who you could marry, and so what is seen in one generation as tradition becomes to be understood in future generations as oppressive," Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland , said at the launch.

"The constitution holds equality out as an ideal. This amendment if it passes would say we are just kidding," he said. "The divisiveness and irrationality and intolerance and fear that are at the heart of this amendment cannot be allowed to succeed."

Both groups have hired staff workers as the competing campaigns begin to take off. Fitzgerald said the Voter FOR Marriage NC committee will release more details in the coming weeks about their campaign, which will include reaching out to churches statewide and civic groups.


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  • soyousay Jan 19, 2012

    Although the media is trying to kill him with the ex-wife interview.
    January 19, 2012 4:14 p.m.

    I have learned that the really big letters (caps) are for emphasis. While connie is certainly able to ignore anyone's marriage he/she chooses (espcially really annoying inlaws), that just doen't mean preety much any thing beyond that.

  • HateIsNOTaFamilyValue Jan 19, 2012

    "Marriage is for ONE man and ONE woman....no one else! Anyone else wishing to make a commitment to their partner is free to do so but it will NEVER be considered a MARRIAGE and rightly so."

    Why is that please be specific.

  • HateIsNOTaFamilyValue Jan 19, 2012

    To those opposed to same sex marriage...

    Can anyone please tell me how gay marriage impacts your life in a specific, rational, logical and factual response?

  • connieleigh4 Jan 19, 2012

    Marriage is for ONE man and ONE woman....no one else! Anyone else wishing to make a commitment to their partner is free to do so but it will NEVER be considered a MARRIAGE and rightly so.

  • silverwomon Jan 19, 2012

    "I would argue that the bill is a waste of time and energy and should not have been crafted to begin with...

    to quote former President Clinton's strategist James Carville, "It's about jobs, stupid..." " Obscurite

    I couldn't agree more - Microsoft just today published a statement:

    "As other states recognize marriage equality, Washington’s employers are at a disadvantage if we cannot offer a similar, inclusive environment to our talented employees, our top recruits and their families. Employers in the technology sector face an unprecedented national and global competition for top talent."

    North Carolina is having a hard enough time keeping major industries i.e. large employers without this type of legislation wasting everyone's time.

  • Ezekiel c23 v19to20 Jan 19, 2012

    " suspect you would ascribe creation to God, but hey there is always room for the Goddess too"

    I'm a big fan of this myself. My own particular mythology not only allows for this, but it insists on it.

  • soyousay Jan 19, 2012

    lest anyone forget, you can certainly march endless up and down the church as many time as your legs can carry you, you can consummate it in your pick up truck, but are not married until you get that marriage license signed and delivered to the guvmint downtown

  • soyousay Jan 19, 2012

    This world was created by man and woman ...following your train of thought (it was hard, but very entertaining) I suspect you would ascribe creation to God, but hey there is always room for the Goddess too

  • soyousay Jan 19, 2012

    . I am tired of having to adjust my life style to satisfy another sex or race....

    told you, it makes him all sweaty

  • haggis basher Jan 19, 2012

    "Even in the bible it states marriage between man and woman."

    Where? The marriage is not even in the bible!

    "This is against all we stand for."

    We? who is we? Certainly not me.

    "Same sex marriage just grosses me out."

    And mayonnaise and peanut butter gross me out, what of it?

    "I will vote every single person out of office in my district if they even give this law a thought"

    You do know the new law is against same sex marriage don't you?

    "I am tired of having to adjust my life style to satisfy another sex or race."

    and just how have you had to do that, pray tell.....this should be interesting......

    "This world was created by man and woman"

    No it was not.....not even Christians believe that...they have a god for the creating business.

    " and thank god for that otherwise we would have no population to even worry about."

    Again you are wrong. We have a population because we are a successful species of Hominid who evolved from a ape like ancestor.