I have not seen official first quarter campaign disclosure reports for the pro-amendment Vote for Marriage NC and the anti-amendment Coalition to Protect All NC Families, but we are in the period where campaigns must report all contributions of $1,000 or more within 48 hours.
One of the anti-amendment coalition's 48 Hour reports shows $113,996.85 from the Center for Community Self Help, which is best known for its work lobbying on lending policy and making loans to low-income borrowers. On its website, the nonprofit describes its mission as, "Creating and protecting ownership and economic opportunity for all, especially people of color, women, rural residents and low-wealth families and communities."
So why is the center contributing heavily to efforts to keep an amendment putting a definition of marriage into the state constitution?
"Self help is a policy organization as well as a lending organization, so this is nothing new," said Martin Eakes, CEO of Self Help and the affiliated Center for Responsible Lending. "When we believe something is bad for the state and bad for the economy, and particularly bad for groups that are marginalize, that's what we do and what we've always done."
Eakes said his group has given to other efforts fighting the amendment as well.
He was one of the first voices in the business community to speak against the amendment, describing it as bad public policy and "poorly worded." Eakes questions whether insurers will be willing to offer companies policies that cover the domestic partners of employees if the amendment passes. (A spokesman for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina told WRAL that the state's largest insurer did not anticipate the amendment will affect what policies employers can offer.)
"I also feel like this amendment was a direct attack, an assault, on the 10 percent of my staff at Self Help who are LGBT," Eakes said.
The center's latest contribution to the anti-amendment campaign was $50,000 on April 24. That's just as anti-amendment forces were pushing their first set of ads onto the television.