Monday evening, I attended a rally against Amendment One at College Park Baptist Church in Greensboro, NC. As things kicked off, I was reminded of the civil rights rallies of the 1960’s: the crowd was a diverse mix of black and white (a little heavy on the white side), there was a least one folk singer who was followed by the cast of “Soul Sistas: The Musical” laying down some excellent soul and black gospel and distinguished speakers to get everyone fired up about the cause. Now, I say it reminded me of one of those rallies from the sixties, but I have to be honest and admit that I never actually attended one of those; at most, I was only 8 or 9 years old when they happened. It would probably be more accurate to say Monday night reminded me of what I think one of those rallies was like. Whatever, it was powerful.
The first speaker was Rabbi Dr. Laurence Milder of the American Hebrew Academy who said “The Jewish community is united in it’s opposition to Amendment One” and “We know discrimination when we smell it. And, this amendment stinks!” Next came William Robinson of The Coalition to Protect NC Families. Mr. Robinson spoke about how some people are using scripture to legitimize discrimination, telling us that the opposition to Amendment One was about the right to love and that’s what the Bible really teaches. He was followed by Dr. Maxine Eichner, professor at UNC-CH School of Law, who told us that we have no way of knowing exactly what the legal fallout of Amendment One might be due the vagaries of the language, specifically the phrase “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State“. That one sentence could conceivably remove all legal protections from any couple, gay or straight, involved in civil unions, domestic partnerships and any other situation where couples aren’t married in the legal sense. She also told us that polls show as much as 58% of North Carolinians would vote in favor of Amendment One if the election were held today. She also said that 51% approve of some sort of legal recognition of same-sex couples. She followed that up by saying this shows education about Amendment One is vital because too many North Carolinians don’t know what they’re actually voting for (7% actually thought the amendment would legalize same-sex marriage). All this led up to the main event and what an event it was.
The last to speak was Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the N.C. chapter of the NAACP. Rev. Barber spoke out about the discrimination inherent in Amendment One, saying “A vote on this so-called same-sex marriage amendment has nothing to do with your personal religious opinion on same-sex marriage. But, it has everything to do with whether or not you believe that discrimination should be codified and legalized constitutionally. It has everything to do with whether you believe hate and division should be legalized constitutionally. And, I believe, along with the entire NAACP and our more than 130 members of the historic Thousand on Jones Street coalition that we should never seek to codify division, hate and discrimination into the very heart and framework of our constitution.” It took him a while to warmed up, but once he did the man was a powerful speaker and his address was a fitting end the rally.
Today, I’ve given you a brief overview of the messages and ideas I heard Monday night. Over the next few days, I planned to get more in depth on each one and do my best to help educate my fellow North Carolinians about this disgusting piece of discrimination masquerading as actual legislation. People gotta know.