North Carolina Residents Reflect on the One Year Anniversary of the Passage of Amendment One
It's been a year since North Carolina voters passing Amendment One. It modified the state constitution to recognize the only legal marriage as the union of a man and a woman.Equality NC is a non-profit organization that was in the forefront of the movement to defeat this measure. The group continues to fight for legislative changes that protect the rights of LGBT residents. Spokeswoman Jen Jones describes May 8th as a bitter sweet day, because she says that's when one faction of the state’s population disregarded a fundamental desire of others based on a personal bias. However, she says the passage of Amendment One has led to several victories for North Carolina’s LGBT community. “In places like Hickory, North Carolina, where they’re building a new base of grassroots activism around LGBT issues, and in the Sandhills of North Carolina where they’re building a new Sandhill Pride,” says Jones. “Also, Buncombe County just passed domestic partner benefits and protection for same-sex workers and transgender workers and that’s after [the passage of] Amendment One.”The battle over Amendment One also threw North Carolina into the national spotlight. Jones believes this played a part in several recent events including the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to hear two cases regarding same-sex marriage and President Barack Obama and other congressional leaders openly supporting marriage equality. Today, May 9th, in the Minnesota state House, members voted 75-59 allowing same-sex weddings to begin this summer. Next Monday, Senate members are expected to vote on the measure.David Hains is the director of communication for the Charlotte Doicese. This is the governing entity for catholic churches in the western area of North Carolina. “We believe persons who are homosexual deserve lives of peace and dignity. They should not be treated unfairly or discriminated against.” Hains was also a member of the executive committee of Vote for NC, the group that strongly pushed for the passage of Amendment One.He believes as people support making same-sex marriage legal nation-wide, the well-fare of children is being over-looked. “Traditional marriage is about the love of two adults and it’s about the protection and care of children to bring new life into the world, to continue the human race. Gay unions can only be about the relationship between two adults," explains Hains. "And I don’t say gay people can’t be good role models and good parents to children what I am saying is as a society we’re putting children on the back burner when we legitimize something like gay unions.” Hains says since the passage of Amendment One in North Carolina, he hasn’t noticed social unrest from either side of the argument. Laurelyn Dossett is a prominent singer/songwriter and musician living in Greensboro with her husband. Last year, she and a number of friends produced the music video, Vote Against Amendment One. Dossett says what hurt her most during the campaign last year was how divided people in the state became over this issue. But now she believes there’s a greater effort in communities to build bridges. “I have noticed a real partnership between the gay and the straight communities. I think people who are not in the LGBT community are more understanding of these issues and are more willing to be vocal allies, because they realize we cannot take this for granted.” Equality NC reports over the past year, some gay people have told the group they have moved away from North Carolina, because of what they call ‘a growing conservative environment,’ although the group does not have solid numbers reflecting this. However, it also reports there is a greater determination among gay and straight citizens statewide to fight for a change in local and state legislation. According to Jones, there is growing support among members of the North Carolina General Assembly regarding LGBT issues, “...including equal protection for LGBT workers who can be fired for who they are and for who they love, fighting housing discrimination against LGBT people, as well as working on behalf of the youngest and most vulnerable of our community, our young people. They can still be bullied in the classroom on the basis of their sexuality and gender identity.”Thursday, May 9th at 7 p.m., Equality NC will participate in an online chat via Twitter using #NCLGBT. This will launch monthly discussions about social issues affecting the LGBT community in our state. For the rest of this week, Equality NC will host virtual lobbying on their website, enabling people to directly email their state legislator to express their concerns.