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Filed under: Amendment One

North Carolina anti-gay Amendment 1: AP calls race, says amendment passes

By Scottie Thomaston

Amendment 1, changing the North Carolina state constitution to say that marriage between a man and a woman is the “only domestic legal union” that is “valid or recognized” in the state has passed, according to the AP, who has called the race. Turnout is on track to exceed 2004 and 2008 levels.

Thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to fight back against this amendment both within the state and across the country. Everyone who has spent so much time, effort and money working to stop this regressive amendment from becoming law has been inspiring. The coalition against the amendment was a truly enormous and wide-ranging one and it showed that it’s possible to build powerful bonds between different groups. Thanks for working hard and we’ll keep it up in the future. This is a battle in a long-term war.

68 Comments May 8, 2012

North Carolina anti-gay Amendment 1 RESULTS THREAD #1

By Scottie Thomaston

Welcome to Prop 8 Trial Tracker’s North Carolina primary election coverage! Adam and Cait, Courage’s data director, are in the war room up in NC. Other volunteers are on the ground in the state working hard until this is all over. We have been covering reports on turnout today throughout the day and we will be bringing you original reports from inside the state for the remainder of the night. Polls close at 7:30PM EST.

Update 27: AP has called the race, reporting the amendment has passed.

Update 26: Via Adam: “Turnout about 1.1 million people so far. Total turnout in 2004 primary was 846K. Total turnout in 2008 primary was 2.1 million. Currently on track to beat that.”

Update 25: Statewide numbers: 30% reporting. 57 for, 43 against.

Update 24: On turnout:

Early voting turnout was heavy in places like Alexander and Mitchell counties — mostly rural areas where Amendment One is expected to pass easily. But voter turnout also was high in Durham and Orange counties, where large concentrations of younger voters are expected to vote against the issue.

Update 23: Buncombe Co., where Ashville is, is at 53 against, 47 for. With about 75% reporting.

Update 22: Wake County in, 57% against.

Update 21: 18% in, 55 for, 45 against.

Update 20: Charlotte Observer says 12% of precincts reporting, 53% for, 47% against

Update 19: Jacob is following the Colorado civil unions bill and writing a live update via Quick Hits. Go there for CO updates!

Update 18: Via Adam: 92% of Wake (Raleigh) is in. It looks like we underperformed. People on the ground say Wake is a lot more conservative than folks say it is based on past election history. Only 57% against.

Update 17: Via Adam, again: 100% of Orange County is now in. ~36,000 votes against, ~9,500 for.

Update 16: Via Adam Bink on the ground in NC: “Durham has finally started to come in. 25% in. 75% against.” Durham had an awesome turnout program for early voting.

Update 15: In Mecklenburg Co. where Charlotte is, 42.6 for, 57.4 against.

Update 14: Orange County final total. 43.6% turnout. 79% against, 21 for.

Update 13: 5 counties in. 57 for, 43 against. Orange Co. turnout at 43%. Wake Co. 36%.

Update 12: 57% of Orange is in and we are up 81% against Amendment 1.

Update 11: PPP: First county fully reported- Lincoln County north of Charlotte- voted 77% for the amendment.

This was expected.

Update 10: Durham, the opposition’s best county, has not reported any numbers yet at all.

Update 9: Adam Bink writes in: “Amendment 1 is failing by wide margins so far among early votes in the places where it should — Orange, Wake (Research Triangle), Mecklenburg (Charlotte). In other places it is winning by a margin of 3 to 1 or more in rural counties. 10 counties are partially in so far.”

Update 8: @tlanehudson: Estimates seem to be that around 2.3M voted in NC today. With 420K votes, 53% for on 1, 47% against.

Update 7: @nccapitol: At 338K, Amendment still winning, but margin tighter – 53-47. Waiting for another 150K or so early votes.

Update 6: The Shelby Star, a newspaper in NC, tweets:

STATEWIDE Amendment One (current) results – 51% for, 48% against #NCElections Different story in CCounty – 76% for

Update 5: Also:

Orange County early vote 87-13 against the amendment.

Protect All NC Families’ campaign staff says “expected them to come out big, but that’s outstanding. Good sign.”

Chapel Hill and what’s known locally as “the people’s republic of Carrboro” are in Orange County. UNC Chapel Hill is there. Courage staff and members have been canvassing Orange County to drive turnout for each of the last 3 days.

Update 4: Via PPP:

Something to watch for in NC amendment returns- is it failing anywhere outside Durham/Orange/Wake/Meck/Buncombe Counties?

Update 3: Via Quick Hits:

“In Georgia, where my partner and I voted regularly for the last 10 years, people campaigning at voting locations must stand 150 feet from the entrance of the building. So even though we’d voted in controversial elections before, we’d always parked inside the buffer zone and never had to walk through a gauntlet of electioneers. In North Carolina the buffer zone is much smaller, set by law to be a minimum of 25 feet to a maximum of 50 feet, varying by location.

“This law has got to change. Voters should never have to walk through a gauntlet to get to the polls, especially when they’re voting on deeply personal issues. I plan to always bring my children with me when I vote, so that they understand from an early age that voting is an important and meaningful part of adult life. They should not have to be exposed to the uncivil, oppressive harassment that we experienced on May 4.”

Update 2: “Reports from precincts across the state are that there are long lines at the polls with an hour to go. We’re strongly encouraging people to stay in line.” –Chris Macneil, Field Director, Campaign to Protect All NC Families

Update 1: Some news that broke during the day is that there are reports of problems with some voters receiving ballots with no amendments on them. The Huffington Post’s Gay Voices reported:

All, we’re getting reports here in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Raleigh (which are base areas for us, e.g. anti-Amendment 1) of precincts handing out INCORRECT ballots. In North Carolina, 17-year-olds can vote in the statewide primary (e.g., for governor, etc.) if they turn 18 by November 6th. However, they CANNOT vote on Amendment 1 in this primary — they can only vote for candidates — therefore they are being handed ballots WITHOUT Amendment 1. That is proper election procedure.

At least two media outlets in North Carolina followed up.

Update : News Observer in the state says there was very high turnout:

As North Carolina polls prepared to close at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, state election officials suggested voter turnout could reach 2008’s high-water mark or possibly exceed the 37 percent threshold.

The strong voter interest on primary election day, combined with record early voting numbers, is a result of a referendum on whether to enshrine a ban on gay marriage and civil unions into the constitution.

The extra attention is coming with a few voting problems. At least three people in Chatham County received ballots this morning without the amendment question and similar problems were reported elsewhere in the state, including Winston-Salem. State election officials called the irregularities isolated.

95 Comments May 8, 2012

Updates from North Carolina’s election day and Colorado’s last minute push for civil unions

By Jacob Combs

Polls opened in North Carolina this morning at 6:30 a.m., and voters in the state will now spend the day choosing presidential and gubernatorial candidates, as well as deciding the fate of the discriminatory and anti-gay Amendment One. Voting will be open in North Carolina throughout the day until 7:30 p.m., and we will have live news updates and election results here on Prop8TrialTracker.com.

Even though today may seem like a waiting day, there is still work to be done! Earlier, Caitlin Alesio Maloney, Courage Campaign’s Data Director, sent out the following email to Courage’s members:

This is it: Election Day on anti-gay Amendment 1 in North Carolina. It’s all hands on deck, and even Pres. Clinton has recorded phone calls to get out the vote. We CANNOT afford another loss at the ballot on marriage. Will you pick up the phone and remind opponents of Amendment 1 in North Carolina to go to the polls?

Adam, I’m on the ground in Raleigh with other Courage staff and volunteers, and the field director just handed me a list of 38,783 Amendment 1 opponents that the campaign has not been able to remind to vote. Let’s plow through this list and help put the campaign over the top! Please, take two hours, an hour, or even thirty minutes right now to pick up the phone and remind our supporters in North Carolina to vote against Amendment 1. This is too important to sit on the sidelines. Here’s everything you need:

Call Out the Vote “CallFire” Training
Defeat Amendment One Talking Points
Out-of-state Script

Calling tool info:
callfire.com
Campaign ID (Enter in upper right corner “Agents Login”) — NEW CODE: 5222209
Passcode — cpncf

If you have friends who want to get involved, hit the “Forward” button and send them this e-mail! It contains everything they’ll need to make calls. If you have any questions please email Anthony@couragecampaign.org.

We can continue to reach those nearly 40,000 no votes today, and in what’s likely to be a close and competitive race, that could make all the difference. If you have any time today, please join us in reaching out to these likely voters. I just spoke with Caitlin about our progress so far, and she told me that out-of-state volunteers have already made over 30,000 phone calls, and that it looks like we will have made at least 50,000, and hopefully many more, by the end of voting today.

In addition, we have heard reports out of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Raleigh, three core areas of anti-Amendment One sentiment, of precincts handing out incorrect ballots. In North Carolina, 17-year-olds can vote in primary elections provided they turn 18 by the November 6 election, but they cannot vote on Amendment One since they are not of voting age for this election. Because of this, they receive ballots that do not have Amendment One on them.

Unfortunately, it appears that some people over the age of 17 are being handed ballots that are missing Amendment One in what should be major anti-Amendment One districts. If you live in North Carolina and have experienced this problem, or know someone who has, it is of the utmost importance to call 1-866-OUR-VOTE and report the issue. We will follow this story as it develops.

Today is also a nail-biter in Colorado, where passage of a civil unions bill could come down to a photo finish. The state legislature’s session ends tomorrow at midnight, and unless a vote is taken before then, the vote dies.

The civil unions bill has had a roller coaster ride through the Colorado Legislature so far: it passed the state Senate in late April with bipartisan support, and was then approved by the same House committee, Judiciary, where a similar bill died last year. The bill then cleared the Finance committee with one Republican supporting the measure, and, according to Denver political reporter Eli Stokols, was “read across the desk” of the Finance committee’s chairman, freeing it up for a final committee vote today in the Appropriations committee. Because the Republican vicechairwoman of that committee has said she would vote for the bill, it is guaranteed passage to the house floor–but only if it is brought up for a hearing by Rep. John Becker, the chairman of Appropriations.

In essence, what this all comes down to is a game of timing and, potentially, political stonewalling by Republicans. According to the Denver Post, at least five House Republicans have announced they will vote for the bill on the House floor, meaning that the votes are there both for the final committee vote and the final floor vote. But first, the chairman of Appropriations must hold a hearing on the bill today, and then House Speaker Frank McNulty must bring up the bill for debate in the full chamber by tonight. According to Stokols, the House calendar released yesterday did not include an Appropriations hearing. Nevertheless, Colorado Public Radio reporter Megan Verlee wrote on her Twitter account that the civil unions bill’s main sponsor, Rep. Mark Farradino, was told by House GOP that Appropriations would meet today, although it was unclear whether the bill would be on the agenda.

In an editorial published today, the Denver Post excoriated House Republicans for using “parliamentary gimmicks” and exhibiting “obstructionist behavior.” If the bill isn’t passed by the end of the session tomorrow, the paper wrote, Gov. John Hickenlooper should call a special session of the legislature. Republicans are in a lose-lose situation here–even if they let the bill die, they could face defeat in such a special session, and they would be inviting Democrats to make the easy and spot-on argument that the Republican leadership stonewalled a civil rights bill that was essentially guaranteed passage.

Just as in North Carolina, we have work to do today. It’s time to put the pressure on the Colorado House’s Republican leaders, and urge them to bring civil unions up for a full and fair vote. Rep. John Becker, the chairman of the Appropriations committee, can be reached at 303-866-2906, while House Speaker Frank McNulty can be reached at 303-866-2346. If you get a chance, give them both a call, and urge them to do the right thing.

As always, check back here at P8TT for updates throughout this exciting day!

UPDATE 1 (11:15 a.m.): Megan Verlee reports that Rep. Becker has confirmed to Rep. Ferrandino that the civil unions bill will be heard in the Appropriations committee this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. local time.

UPDATE 2 (11:45 a.m.): The Denver Post has more.

Update 3 Scottie Thomaston:: There are reports of problems with ballots. Some voters are not being given ballots with amendments on them. Huffington Post’s Gay Voices reports:

All, we’re getting reports here in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Raleigh (which are base areas for us, e.g. anti-Amendment 1) of precincts handing out INCORRECT ballots. In North Carolina, 17-year-olds can vote in the statewide primary (e.g., for governor, etc.) if they turn 18 by November 6th. However, they CANNOT vote on Amendment 1 in this primary — they can only vote for candidates — therefore they are being handed ballots WITHOUT Amendment 1. That is proper election procedure.

The problem is, the reports we are getting are that people OVER 17 are also being handed these ballots WITHOUT Amendment 1 in what would normally be heavily anti-Amendment 1 precincts (Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Raleigh). We are working on testimonials from voters who have experienced this — in the meantime, if you report on Amendment 1, PLEASE ask readers to call 1-866-OUR-VOTE if they experience this in NC, or know someone who did. That will enable the campaign’s field team to investigate and correct this as soon as possible.

PLEASE if you are seeing similar issues, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE immediately. And please leave comments in this thread if you are seeing any issues.

UPDATE 4 Scottie Thomaston: North Carolina news outlets now reporting on ballot issues:

LAWNDALE — Three Cleveland County voters accidentally received ballots that didn’t include Amendment 1.

County Elections Director Debra Blanton said three people at the Mulls precinct on Belwood-Lawndale Road were mistakenly given ballots for 17-year-olds who will turn 18 before November’s general election.

UPDATE 5 Scottie Thomaston: GetEQUAL is asking for calls to voters against Amendment 1 today:

;

UPDATE 6 Scottie Thomaston: Another report on voting issues from inside NC. Again call 1866OURVOTE if you run into problems.

UPDATE 7 (4:40 p.m.): The Clorado House Appropriations Committee is about to start a hearing which will include consideration of a civil unions bill. The bill is scheduled to be the committee’s fifth item of business. You can listen to a live feed of the hearing here; the committee meeting will be held in the Legislative Services Building Hearing, Room A. Megan Verlee reports that the committee room is packed, and sponsors are concerned the GOP may stall the bill with amendments. The bill must be passed by the Appropriations committee and heard by the full House by midnight tonight in order for a final vote to occur tomorrow before the legislature’s session runs out.

UPDATE 8 (5:05 p.m.): Colorado Rep. Claire Levy tweets that Republicans in the Appropriations committee are wasting time on bills that have no chance of passing to run down the clock on civil unions. The committee is currently debating an eVerify bill that is dead on the House calendar. Apparently, even Rep. Cheri Gerou, who previously vowed to vote the civil unions bill out of committee, is playing along. Democrats who had walked out of the hearing in anger were forced to return, so that GOP members couldn’t call up a vote on the civil unions bill that would fail without those members’ votes.

UPDATE 9 (5:35 p.m.): It appears that each bill is taking about 10-15 minutes to discuss. Eli Stokols tweets that Rep. Becker just announced that there are now 7 bills in front of the civil unions one. Before, it had been fifth on the schedule.

UPDATE 10(6:25 p.m.): Now, after all the delay, the Appropriations committee is finally considering the civil unions bill.

UPDATE 11(6:45 p.m.): An amendment offered by Rep. Looper to add broad religious exemptions to the bill passed 7-6, eliciting gasps from the room. There was confusion earlier that such an amendment would mean the bill would die without adequate time to be reconsidered by the Senate. It appears that was incorrect, and that there will be time for the Senate to consider the bill again. The amendment could also be stripped by the full house. Nevertheless, this certainly is a bump in the road. Republican Rep. Gerou, who said she would vote the bill out of committee, voted yes on Looper’s amendment.

UPDATE 12(6:55 p.m.): Another religious exemptions provision, this one for therapists, has passed. In a speech, Rep. Gerou says she thinks Rep. Ferrandino will have will have the votes to remove the amendments on the House floor.

UPDATE 13(7:05 p.m.): Big news: the Colorado House Appropriations committee has passed the civil unions bill, with one Republican, Rep. Gerou, joining Democrats. Two potentially poisonous amendments were added to the bill. It now moves to the full House floor.

45 Comments May 8, 2012

North Carolina: Prop 8 backers Alliance Defense Fund responsible for anti-gay Amendment 1’s broad language

By Scottie ThomastonGoal Thermometer

The language of North Carolina’s Amendment 1 – that the “only domestic legal union” that will be “valid or recognized” in North Carolina – is exceptionally broad and incredibly unclear. The ballot language is also unprecedented and undefined in North Carolina law. Since the proponents of the amendment went forward with the proposed amendment language, questions have been raised often about whether the amendment will eliminate protections against domestic violence for those in domestic partnerships. The statute relied upon in domestic violence cases uses a defined set of “recognize[d]” relationships. But the amendment clearly changes North Carolina law to only “recognize” one type of relationship: marriage between a man and a woman. And even research linked on the Vote For Marriage NC site – the website of the proponents – admits the amendment will ban civil unions and domestic partnerships. This will eliminate all the rights associated with currently existing domestic partnerships, including children’s health insurance.

It didn’t have to be this way:

This weekend, [NC House Majority Leader] Stam finally explained [why the amendment’s language is so broad and unclear] to the Fayetteville Observer who reported it this way.

Stam, the Raleigh lawmaker, said he wanted a more narrowly worded amendment but was “overruled” by “national experts” he identified as the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal advocacy group.

The Alliance Defense Fund is a leader in pushing anti-gay initiatives. They helped put Proposition 8 on the ballot. In fact, they fought to make Proposition 8’s language unclear:

Having lost its legal battle in May, the ADF has since redirected its efforts to guaranteeing Prop 8’s passage in November. Specifically, the group has attempted to finagle the initiative’s language, controlling how it will be read by voters at the ballot box. In early August, ADF lawyers filed an appeal with the court to reverse state Attorney General Jerry Brown’s decision that changed the words “limit on marriage” to “eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry” in Prop 8’s title. While the modification is much clearer as to the initiative’s true intent, ADF Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco seemed to realize that such clearly worded language would turn off moderate voters. By arguing that “election ballot titles should be neutral and not intentionally prejudice voters,” while at the same time advocating for vaguer language, Infranco perhaps revealed his own suspicion that Prop 8 must be misrepresented in order to pass. However, the court denied the appeal, affirming Brown’s new wording.

And there is a reason for their desire to make the language as vague as possible:

The authors just don’t believe that same-sex marriage is wrong, they believe that it leads to “polygamy, endogamy(the marriage of blood relatives), bestiality and child marriage,” comments by the way that Stam himself made during the legislative debate last year.

They say that “pedophilia and homosexuality are intrinsically linked” and they see a conspiracy everywhere to promote the “radical homosexual agenda.”

Sears and the ADF believe people can be “cured” of being gay through religious conversion and they cite the case of John Paulk, who appeared on the cover of Newsweek as an “ex-gay” and became an activist for groups on the Christian right. Paulk resigned from the movement after controversy erupted after he was spotted at a gay bar in Washington.

The amendment that the Alliance wrote [in North Carolina] reflects their offensive philosophy that gay couples deserve no rights—not marriage, not civil unions, not employee benefits, not even privacy in their own homes.

It certainly helps cement views like this in state constitutions when you deliberately propose broad wording that even the proponents’ own experts say will have far-reaching consequences into all forms of legal relationships between couples. It provides lots of room for courts to dramatically alter the state of legal protections for gays and lesbians without pointing to animus. But this is not an accident by well-meaning proponents. The Alliance Defense Fund seems intent on confusing the electorate to win their fights.

What you can do to help defeat Amendment One:Goal Thermometer

1. Volunteer to Call for Equality – a GOTV phone banking effort against Amendment 1.

2. Contribute to the campaign on ActBlue so they have the resources they need to get our message out.

3. Sign up to help get out the vote in NC yourself! Courage Campaign is arranging out-of-state caravans and travel assistance is available.

4. Sign up for a Courageous Conversation about Amendment One with someone you know in NC.

2 Comments May 7, 2012

Amendment One updates from the final day before the election

By Jacob CombsGoal Thermometer

Tomorrow is North Carolina’s big election day, when the fate of Amendment One will finally be decided.  I spent the weekend in Raleigh working with the Coalition to Protect All NC Families (and some amazing Courage Campaign volunteers from California and DC) to get out the vote, register volunteers and canvass.  After the election, I’m going to sit down to write a more in-depth reflection piece on my experience in North Carolina, but for this morning I thought it would be worth taking a look at the situation on the ground and digging into the numbers a bit to see where we are going into tomorrow’s election.

First off, the polling.  The final PPP poll, released yesterday, featured a 55-39 split, with more voters favoring the amendment than opposing it.  These numbers showed almost no change from last week.  The poll did show, however, that misinformation, and not any inherent opposition to equality, was the major driving force behind respondents’ voting plans:

In some sense North Carolinians are voting against their own beliefs. 53% of voters in the state support either gay marriage or civil unions, yet a majority also support the amendment that would ban both. The reason for that disconnect is even with just 24 hours until election day only 46% of voters realize the proposal bans both gay marriage and civil unions. Those informed voters oppose the amendment by a 61-37 margin but there may not be enough time left to get the rest of the electorate up to speed.

On my way out of the Raleigh-Durham airport yesterday, three different airport employees read my Vote Against Amendment One t-shirt and asked me what Amendment One was.  All three of them were young, and none had even heard of the amendment.  When I explained to them how it would change North Carolina’s constitution and what the repercussions of its passage could be for families, women and children, they were shocked, and each one told me they would now vote against Amendment One.  While our conversations were incredibly positive, the fact that these three young voters (all of whom clearly came down on the side of equality) had not even heard of the amendment illustrates just how uphill the climb faced by the anti-amendment campaign was.

Despite these difficulties, though, the Coalition to Protect All NC Families has run an incredible campaign.  On a call with reporters last night, Nation Hahn, the campaign’s Director of Engagement, announced that the campaign had raised more than $2.5 million, with $910,000 coming from over 7,000 online donors.  In this ballot fight, the pro-equality side significantly outspent the anti-equality forces.  President Clinton recorded a robocall against the amendment, which was deployed to over 500,000 voters starting yesterday, and the campaign today released its final video on YouTube, which you can watch below.

The campaign’s voting numbers are even more impressive.  In 2008, when South Carolina was an important state in the highly competitive Democratic primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, 486,000 people voted early.  It was the highest early vote turnout in the state’s history.  This year, without a competitive Democratic primary and with the Republican primary all but over, the number of early voters broke 2008’s record, with 507,000 voters participating.

During early voting this year, 46% of voters were registered Democrats, 34% were registered Republicans and 20% were unaffiliated.  A full 56% of early voters were voting in their first or second primary.  These voters are for the most part considered “unlikely” voters, and were therefore not included in the polling that has been conducted up to this point.  Our side has focused significant effort on these voters, who are younger, more progressive and more likely to vote against the amendment.  In addition, the anti-amendment campaign conducted almost 10,000 get out the vote shifts by the end of this weekend, with another 4,000 scheduled for today and tomorrow.  In all, almost 800,000 calls to voters have been made.

What do all these numbers mean?  As it has always been, the Amendment One campaign will come down to voter education and actually getting supporters to the polls, either early or on this Tuesday.  The Coalition to Protect All NC Families is hopeful that the final vote tomorrow could mirror the so-called “personhood amendment” on the ballot in Mississippi last November.  Polls were showing broad demographic support for that amendment, which enjoyed the support of politicians politicians of both parties.  Nevertheless, although Mississippi’s amendment continued to look like it would pass as the election neared, it was ultimately rejected by voters by a stunning 59 to 41% margin.

An upset on Amendment One tomorrow would, of course, be a thrilling victory.  No matter what happens, though, the Coalition has run a historic campaign, and the vote will likely be much closer tomorrow than conventional wisdom has predicted.

Check out the Coalition to Protect All NC Families’s powerful final video against Amendment One below.

http://youtu.be/o8YrEMPkIA8

What you can do to help defeat Amendment One:Goal Thermometer

1. Volunteer to Call for Equality – a GOTV phone banking effort against Amendment 1.

2. Contribute to the campaign on ActBlue so they have the resources they need to get our message out.

3. Sign up to help get out the vote in NC yourself! Courage Campaign is arranging out-of-state caravans and travel assistance is available.

4. Sign up for a Courageous Conversation about Amendment One with someone you know in NC.

5 Comments May 7, 2012

North Carolina NAACP responds to suggestion by wife of Amendment 1 sponsor that its purpose is to “protect the caucasian race”

By Scottie ThomastonGoal Thermometer

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.

What you can do to help defeat Amendment One:Goal Thermometer

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.

3. Follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

7 Comments May 3, 2012

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