North Carolina NAACP responds to suggestion by wife of Amendment 1 sponsor that its purpose is to “protect the caucasian race”
May 3, 2012
Yesterday, North Carolina’s Amendment 1 proponents were featured in news stories at Yes! Weekly, Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, The Advocate, Think Progress, and state media in North Carolina like Winston-Salem Journal when the wife of a legislative sponsor of the measure made comments suggesting that her husband sponsored and voted for the amendment to be placed on the ballot to “protect the caucasian race.”
This was the reason given for Amendment 1:
According to the alternative Yes! Weekly, writer and campaigner Chad Nance spoke to a pollworker who told him that Jodie Brunstetter said, “The reason my husband wrote Amendment 1 was because the Caucasian race is diminishing and we need to uh, reproduce.”
The state NAACP in North Carolina has been opposed to the amendment from day one. They have spoken out about it, campaigned against it, and they have run ads and an extensive media campaign in strong opposition. There is no doubt that the NAACP is fully committed to fighting this measure and preventing it from becoming law. Along with their ads, robocalls and other efforts, they made statements like this one:
“The polls and the politicians are asking the wrong questions on this discriminatory amendment, hatched in the backrooms of the extremist, rightwing think-tanks,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. “Our message is consistent: A vote on the same sex marriage amendment has nothing to do with your personal and religious opinion on same sex marriage but everything to do with whether or not you believe discrimination should be codified and legalized constitutionally. We should never seek to codify or vote discrimination into the very heart and framework of our Constitution.”
Dr. Barber continued, “The real insult to the Civil Rights Movement is that the same regressive, ultra-conservative Tea Party type folks suing to overturn the 1965 Voting Rights Act, re-segregating and robbing our public schools of valuable resources, blocking workers’ rights to organize, trying to force us all to get photo ID’s to exercise our right to vote and cut back on the time and opportunities to vote, and attempting to repeal the Racial Justice Act, now somehow think the sons and daughters of the Civil Rights Movement cannot see through their Trojan Horse trick.”
With the National Organization for Marriage’s race-baiting strategy exposed, it’s becoming even more obvious when right-wing groups start employing those same tactics. This stopped being “simply” about a definition of a word quite a long time ago. The attempts to divide minority groups are being noted and we are fighting back. Comments that the amendment’s purpose is to “protect the caucasian race” serve as a strong reminder that we’re up against the same enemy here. They will hurt one minority just as willfully as another.
North Carolina’s NAACP is taking them on. They released a statement last night:
Earlier today, a video was released concerning comments allegedly made by a supporter of the Discriminatory Amendment that claim preservation of the Caucasian race to be one of the motivations behind the pro-amendment campaign. Click here more.
The alleged comments by the supporter of Amendment One would be less concerning if they did not fit as a piece of the cynical puzzle of race-based political agendas and money found in the forces and rationales behind the Discriminatory Amendment. The reality is that the extreme right wing forces behind this amendment are the same people waging a public policy campaign against African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, the poor and other minorities. Therefore, the alleged comments and the well-documented rationale represented in them are not surprising. They only serve to help connect the dots between a regressive, race-based strategy to pass Amendment One and the larger attack on the rights of minorities for the purpose of maintaining power in the hands of the few.
We already know that two groups on the steering committee behind this amendment, the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, are affiliated with national organizations recognized as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
And now this — the allegation of a blatant reference to a twisted race-based rationale for Amendment One being written in the first place. North Carolinians must reject this ultra-conservative, regressive and mean spirited agenda. We must be better than this as a state and as a people who make glowing claims to our belief in justice and fairness for all. We must vote AGAINST discrimination, division and hate in our Constitution. We must vote AGAINST Amendment One.
The proponents did not seem to have a particularly good day yesterday. There has been much skepticism of the real rationale behind Amendment 1 – since its language saying that the “only domestic legal union” allowed in the state will be opposite-sex marriage is vague and unprecedented in North Carolina law – and many questions abound. Lawyers have suggested that the amendment would ban domestic partnerships and prevent any attempt to enact civil unions in the future, and the proponents’ own research on their website backs up the lawyers’ claims. However, one of the campaign’s latest ad falsely suggests that the amendment “only” defines marriage as between a man and a woman. And then at a church event last Sunday, they showed a video suggesting they want to take away domestic partnerships and ban civil unions as well, contrary to their previous claims.
There has been skepticism over whether people in domestic partnerships would still retain legal protections against domestic violence afforded to them, and anti-domestic violence groups have joined the coalition against the amendment. The Assistant District Attorney of Wake County, who has experience prosecuting cases of domestic violence, has made an ad against it on the grounds that it will hurt those affected by domestic violence.
And with the campaign on the defensive, trying to explain their confusing amendment and their shifting position on whether or not North Carolinians who are in domestic partnerships will still have protections against domestic violence if the amendment passes, and whether children with unmarried parents will still have access to health insurance benefits, things are getting worse. A pro-Amendment 1 supporter, as we’ve written, filmed himself shooting a No on 1 sign with a shotgun and talking about it. Cops were forced to swarm his house. Then the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence weighed in on this threat and the bizarre act of violence displayed on video. And today, another supporter filmed themselves urinating on a No on 1 sign. While the campaign to pass the amendment is desperate to distance themselves from violent attacks and rhetoric, these events are not doing them any favors.
And now the racist comments made by the wife of a key sponsor of the amendment are backfiring spectacularly, as anyone who’s been paying attention knew they would. The NAACP has our backs in North Carolina and we have theirs. They’ve been a tremendous help, and it’s clear that they’re deeply involved in this huge battle against right-wing reactionaries. We are in this together, as we always were, and this type of racist rhetoric only underscores the true intent of the proponents: to divide us, and to diminish our voices and our successes, to spread discrimination and bigotry far and wide. This admission from a proponent of the measure is already turning voters who happened to overhear it away from supporting the amendment:
I had been having a real intense conversation with these two women, both of whom were black, and both of whom were voting for the amendment and both of whom really changed their mind. And not only that, but they were going to go talk to a whole lot of people. Once they heard how many people would be harmed by this and what the spirit of the amendment is.
As the NAACP said in their statement, “We must vote AGAINST discrimination, division and hate.” The primary is May 8.
1. Contribute to the campaign on ActBlue so they have the resources they need to get our message out.
2. Sign up for a Courageous Conversation about Amendment One with someone you know in NC.
4. Download social media tools and yard signs to show your opposition to Amendment 1.
5. Volunteer to Call for Equality – a GOTV phone banking effort against Amendment 1.
6. Sign up to help get out the vote in NC yourself! Courage Campaign is arranging out-of-state caravans and travel assistance is available.