Early voting in the weeks before the May 8 primary election in North Carolina in which voters will decide the fate of the anti-gay Amendment One is off to a strong start, with turnout expected to set a record for any primary election since the state instituted same-day registration and voting in 2000. As the Raleigh-Durham News and Observer reports, the first week of early voting this year was even stronger than the first week of the 2008 presidential primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, with almost 12,000 more votes cast this year than 2008. Including mail-in ballots, almost 122,000 ballots have been cast since early voting began on April 19.
While this promising head-start is significant, it only marks the beginning of what will certainly be a race to the finish line. The early voting turnout so far represents only two percent of registered voters, and early voting will no doubt pick up as May 8 approaches: in 2008, 70 percent of early votes were cast in the final six days. That means that this week is absolutely crucial: with that six-day period beginning on Thursday, our allies fighting Amendment One have about three days to effect what may be the most important voter education of the campaign. And once those final six days begin, it’ll take an aggressive push on the ground to get voters to polls either before or on election day.
In an editorial published yesterday, the New York Times came out against Amendment One, highlighting the negative consequences it could have for gay and straight couples alike:
North Carolina already has a law barring same-sex marriage, but the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature is not satisfied. It devised a measure to enshrine this obvious discrimination in the State Constitution and placed it on the ballot of the state’s May 8 primary election — a test of tolerance versus bigotry that ought to be watched closely nationwide.
In their zeal, lawmakers got careless with the wording of the measure, known as Amendment One. It would constitutionally prohibit recognition not just of same-sex marriages, but of other legal arrangements like civil unions and domestic partnerships. That could harm all unmarried couples, imperiling some children’s health insurance benefits, along with child custody arrangements and safeguards against domestic violence.
With a little over a week to go before the election, the No on Amendment One side has our work cut out for us. But as these early voting numbers show, although we may still face an uphill battle, we are going to make this election as competitive as possible.
Today, we are joining a one-day Twitter fund raiser to help defeat Amendment 1 in North Carolina. Over 20 activists, writers, bloggers and other folks are participating in this attempt to beat back this odious amendment. There are LGBT activists participating alongside straight allies. Pam Spaulding writes:
We are still in the heat of the fight, airing ads to educate voters about Amendment One’s harms. Today some of my online buddies are joining in as the clock ticks down to the May 8 vote. Early voting is under way and runs through May 5; on Twitter today we are doing a mini-fundraiser, offering to donate to Protect All NC Families from this morning until midnight for each new follower (my counter started at 10,115).
Today, I’m proud to be joining a handful of awesome bloggers and activist in a one-day, Twitter driven mini-fundraiser/awareness campaign to help GOTV. You may recognize many of them, like Pam Spaulding, Courage Campaign’s Rick Jacobs, MoveOn’s Julia Rosen, AmericaBlog’s Joe Sudbay, the hilarious Lizz Winstead and our own [and P8TT's own] Scottie Thomaston.
Here’s Adam’s tweet:
Will give $1 to @protectNC to defeat #Amendment1 4 each new follower b4 midnight EST, up to $25. I start at 1887.
Today the new TV ad from Protect ALL NC Families, the campaign to defeat the anti-gay Amendment 1 in North Carolina, makes its debut. The ad features Assistant District Attorney of Wake County, NC, Amily McCool. Weeks ago, McCool noted in stark terms what would happen if the amendment were to pass:
Amily McCool, Asst DA of Wake Co: #Amendment1 would mean victims of domestic violence would have to marry their attacker for protection
McCool has experience prosecuting domestic violence crimes:
McCool currently prosecutes both felony and misdemeanor domestic violence crimes and solely prosecuted these types of cases in Wake County’s specialized domestic violence courtroom. She has a Masters of Social Work and has practiced in the domestic violence field for over 10 years, working with both victims and batterers.
In the ad, McCool says, “Amendment One could take away protections for domestic violence victims.”
The ad, entitled “Amily,” features the domestic violence litigator pulling from piles of files and photos of domestic violence cases of unmarried victims—victims, according to experts from every major law school in the state who could lose their domestic violence protections because of the broad wording of Amendment One.
“This is just a handful of the many, many, many victims that could be affected,” says McCool as she pulls from the stacks of cases of unmarried, abused women.
We have written before about the escalating War on Women and children. This attempt to reach far beyond defining marriage as between a man and a woman, stretching the amendment’s language into a confusing and broad legal phrase that is unprecedented in North Carolina law, will significantly affect women; and it will create another front in the never-ending war to end protections for women’s health, for violence against women, and for health care and legal protections for unmarried women in relationships. Creating confusing legal situations for vulnerable people in need of real help is not something North Carolinians can afford to do.
That is a theme the governor of North Carolina, Bev Perdue, focused on in videos and in a speech to a women’s conference earlier this month. It’s why groups fighting domestic violence oppose the amendment.
And at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee’s executive committee, one member warned that if the amendment passes, gay and lesbian convention delegates may “keep our money in our pockets” at the national convention in Charlotte.
On May 8, North Carolinians will vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Opponents and supporters say it also could affect health insurance and other benefits for unmarried heterosexual couples.
“(The amendment) would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples,” party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told the meeting at the Westin Hotel.
Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/04/28/3205807/democratic-party-chair-speaks.html#storylink=cpy
With only a week or so to go before the election on May 8, voters need to be made aware of the unintended consequences this amendment will have, as well as the true intent behind the proponents’ efforts to push the amendment.
What you may have missed over the past week at Prop8TrialTracker.com…
On Monday, April 23, Adam began the week by covering the first TV ads released by the Campaign to Protect All NC Families urging North Carolinians to vote no on the anti-gay and discriminatory Amendment One. I wrote about the White House’s endorsement of two anti-bullying bills in Congress, the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. Scottie reported on a “Don’t Say Gay” bill being considered in Minnesota, as well as NOM’s new partnership with the Christian Civil League of Maine to combat marriage equality efforts in the state. In his weekly video update, AFER’s Matt Baume spoke about a civil union bill being considered in the Colorado state Senate, where it was expected to pass but to face an uphill climb in the state House for lack of an official sponsor.
On Tuesday, I began the day by covering a potentially watershed opinion by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that held gender identity-based discrimination illegal under Title VII, which prohibits sex discrimination. Scottie analyzed a new PPP poll showing record low support for Amendment One in North Carolina, and also covered the first ad released by the pro-amendment forces in the state. Scottie also posted an equality news round-up for the day.
On Wednesday, I wrote about a bill being introduced in the California legislature that would protect patients from ex-gay therapy and ban the use of the practice on minors below the age of 18. Scottie covered a video statement by North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan urging voters to vote no on Amendment One, and also wrote about a statement by the state attorney general vowing to vote no on the amendment. In addition, Scottie posted a round-up of DOMA news, and looked at why arguments against DOMA just don’t hold water.
On Thursday, our coverage began with my post on a new Pew research poll showing that 47 percent of Americans support marriage equality, with strong support matching strong opposition (at 22 percent) for the first time ever. Scottie wrote about the consequences that Amendment One would have for women, as well as the decision by North Carolina Rep. Jim Crawford, who sponsored a bill supporting the amendment in the legislature, to vote against the amendment next Tuesday. He also looked at the religious arguments in support of Amendment One in North Carolina and exposed some selective quoting in a pro-amendment ad that misrepresented research on domestic violence.
On Friday, I reported that the Colorado Senate had passed a civil union bill, which will go to the House, where it could face a quick demise. Scottie wrote about the Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network’s amicus brief in an anti-DOMA military trial, and covered the quickly shifting momentum in North Carolina, where a win against Amendment One could be within reach.
Finally, Adam wrote yesterday about the second phase of Courage Campaign’s get out the vote efforts in North Carolina. Readers and supporters can sign up here to head to North Carolina next weekend during the critical 72 hour period before the rest of the state votes on May 8. We at Courage, in partnership with the Coalition to Protect All NC Families, will help take care of housing and travel arrangements, and travel reimbursement is available. Whether you’re coming from as far as Seattle or as close as Virginia, we can make it work. Adam and I will both be in North Carolina next week along with several other Courage staff members–come join us and help us make history next Tuesday!
As always, remember that Quick Hits can always be found to the right of the main blog posts (and if someone’s interested in rounding up Quick Hits for the week like this, drop us a line!). And don’t forget to follow Equality on Trial on Facebook and on Twitter for more coverage and updates! All P8TT posts are published on Twitter immediately after they go up, so you can get word that way too. We’re tweaking the e-mail subscriptions tool, so that’ll be in better shape this week as well. And of course, if you like the coverage we do here, consider tossing a few bucks in the hat to help us do it.
As you’ve noticed here at Prop8TrialTracker.com, we’ve been spending a lot of time lately writing about anti-gay Amendment 1 in North Carolina. There are reasons for that — one, because like Prop 8, it’s a constitutional amendment, only it goes further by banning all forms of partnership recognition including civil unions and domestic partnerships for people of any gender. Two, because there is so much interest in defeating it — evidenced by the hundreds of Courage and P8TT folks making phone calls against Amendment 1, the over 650 people who have donated on our ActBlue page to defeat Amendment 1 (a large percentage from this blog), and discussion in the comments. And last, because we have a real shot at an upset.
Here’s why this is so important: as Scottie noted yesterday, early voting totals are ahead of where the Obama/Clinton primary totals were in 2008 (about 121,000 ballots have been cast in a week compared to 102,000 in the same period in 2008), and much of that is driven by opposition to Amendment 1. College campuses are turning out the vote — over half of registered students at Duke University have voted, and there is also a same-day registration program. But the majority of the rest of the state votes on Election Day, and the campaign needs people on the ground to put cards on voters’ doorknobs, drive people to the polls, and more. We wouldn’t be asking if we didn’t truly feel we could win this thing with all the momentum we’ve got. And none of us want to wake up the morning after Election Day if we lose narrowly and realize there is something more we could have done.
I’ll be in the Raleigh/Durham area along with Jacob Combs (Scottie will be holding down the fort here with all the latest), as well as other Courage staff, super volunteers and members. You can come next weekend or any other date that works for you, and there are four staging locations across the state, so you can pick what works for you. You can stay for the weekend, or all the way through Election Day. And again, we’ll help with supporter housing, travel and all the details to get out the vote.
The campaign to defeat the anti-gay Amendment 1 in North Carolina has been working hard for many months, and the signs are there that the amendment could go down, making it only the second time a statewide anti-gay amendment has been rejected by the voters. Arizona rejected a ballot measure in 2006 but managed to pass it later. Polling on the amendment has shifted rapidly toward opposition among many demographics. Last month, a PPP poll showed that the only constituencies opposed were independents and young voters. Democrats were narrowly supportive, Republicans strongly supportive, and African American voters were also very much in support. The poll suggested that a lot of voters didn’t know what the amendment would do, and when they were informed of its effects, they actually opposed it narrowly.
This week, there was a new poll that told quite a different story. Support was at its lowest in any poll on the measure so far, and opposition was at its highest. Democrats, once narrowly supportive, are more strongly opposed. Now, more people are aware of what the amendment does, though some people are still confused. African American voters, while still in support, lost ten points or so of support over the course of a few weeks. This poll was taken before any ads were released, before any campaigning was done aside from grassroots action. That means numbers shifted at least six points in a few weeks based on the campaign’s message alone, a message that no one had gotten to see in ads before the poll.
“The against side has an advantage in terms of tv air time and grassroots momentum and for the first time this week I really believe there’s a chance the amendment could fail,” Tom Jensen, director of PPP, told TPM in an email. “I never would have thought that until now.”
He added: “I think opponents of the amendment should be very encouraged and if they do every little thing they can in the final days to make sure voters are informed the potential for a seismic upset is there.”
Then the campaign’s ads, co-produced by Chad Griffin from AFER (and incoming president of the Human Rights Campaign), came out, telling the stories of a woman who’s children would lose health insurance if she loses domestic partnership benefits, and another woman who would lose protections against domestic violence. The focus has been on the broad wording of the amendment – saying that the “only domestic legal union” would be a marriage between a man and a woman. This means it affects gay and straight couples in domestic partnerships and civil unions, and depending on how courts read this new language that is unprecedented in North Carolina law, could reach to eliminate children’s health insurance, domestic violence protections, and a whole host of legal protections granted to those in legal unions that would be abolished.
The War on Women (and children) has escalated over the past year or so, and Amendment 1 would only make things worse for women who are seeking health care and protections from domestic violence. The governor of North Carolina, Bev Perdue, has stressed this point repeatedly. Families and children would face uncertainty and loss of legal protections if this were to pass. She recently recorded a video, partly based on footage from her speech at a women’s convention she attended, urging voters to get out to the polls and vote no. She has posted the message, “When a measure as divisive as Amendment One appears on the ballot, none of us should remain silent.”
The proponents of the amendment are suggesting that these effects will never come to pass:
Many believe that it would simply outlaw same-sex marriage, unaware that it would also deny legal recognition to all civil unions and domestic partnerships. Kennedy said the campaign has emphasized that gay marriage — already illegal under North Carolina law — will be unaffected by either outcome.
“What the other side says is that it’s just about marriage and protecting marriage, but what we’ve been saying all along is that it’s about much more than marriage,” [Jeremy] Kennedy [campaign manager for the Coalition to Protect NC Families, the campaign opposing Amendment 1] said. “Why would we be so irresponsible to amend our constitution in a way that would strip families of benefits and domestic violence protections?”
The pro-Amendment 1 campaign got their ads up – they are religious in nature, about the Bible’s nonexistent command that marriage should be protected as between a man and a woman. They need to move independents, who strongly oppose the amendment, as well as other constituencies who are moving toward opposition, and it seems like a real stretch to believe that ads focusing on the Bible would get those constituencies fired up enough to turn out to vote in a primary election where the nominees for both parties are already pretty much chosen. I’m not even sure the ads, which use the standard one-liners about “protecting” the “institution” of marriage and repeat the “man and a woman” line over and over are going to be enough to get the base out. How long has the base been hearing those same lines?
But their side has even more problems to contend with: they recently paid to produce a new ad that is incredibly defensive. It is a response to the opposition’s contentions that the amendment will have unintended consequences in health care and domestic violence – backed up by doctors and lawyers. So, the pro-Amendment 1 side is now forced to spend time and money combating actual verifiable truths and legitimate worries because the campaign opposing the amendment told their stories first and loudly and often. Losing control of the message is a sure sign of a faltering campaign, and it’s clear the supporters of the amendment are not going to be able to define their campaign in a positive way. The ad, which swears that “the only thing” the amendment does is define marriage as between a man and a woman, that it doesn’t take away legal protections, cites research admitting that the amendment will indeed ban civil unions and domestic partnerships. So it is not only a costly, time-consuming defensive ad but an easily debunked false ad that distorts research – a favorite pastime of anti-LGBT groups.
And the opposition to this odious and regressive amendment is sending its message to every constituency. They are ramping up efforts across the state in the final two weeks before the primary date of May 8. The campaign has worked hard to build a coalition with a lot of diversity, and this week the state NAACP is rolling out its media campaign to expose the harms of Amendment 1:
This week, in the face of an extreme rightwing attack on minorities and the poor, the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP is rolling out a major media campaign to make clear the facts and constitutional dangers facing all North Carolinians through the discriminatory Amendment One.
Through ads in African-American newspapers, radio spots across the state, mailers, and robocalls to tens of thousands North Carolina voters, and brochures distributed to over fifty counties through grassroots NAACP branch leadership, the public education campaign is already resonating with everyday North Carolinians.
The National Organization for Marriage, it was revealed recently, has fought to split the black and gay communities through race-baiting, homophobic tactics. This is while both communities are struggling on so many different fronts and while both desperately need allies. The right wing has been trying to exacerbate racial tensions for decades but the NOM memos exposed a deliberate strategy. With so many fronts in the war against minorities, and all of them stemming from right-wing thought, we know who the opposition really is.
“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.” [...] Dr. Barber said, “On the grassroots level we get a very different response when we cut through the Trojan Horse trick of the Tea Party backed forces and ask ‘Do you think we should tamper with the protections of the 14th Amendment and the Equal Protection Under the Law clause, or Section One of the North Carolina Constitution?’ When we ask ‘Do you believe, especially in the South, we should create a precedent whereby the majority votes on the rights of a minority?’ the sinister divide and conquer rhetoric is torn asunder. When people find out that groups leading the pro-Amendment efforts, like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, are affiliated with national organizations identified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, they are horrified by the deceitful Amendment One. When people find out that the amendment could also negatively impact heterosexual couples, take away domestic violence protections for women, strip legal recognition and protection from unmarried couples and leave families and children with no basic access to healthcare and prescription drug coverage, people overwhelmingly see through the distractions and tricks and say, ‘We won’t be fooled. Not on our watch!’”
With those in favor of the amendment scrambling to defend the irrationality of banning something in the constitution already prohibited by state law, working to combat truths about the broadness of the amendment’s language and its far-reaching unintended consequences through distortions and lies, and to stop the rapid shifting of voter opinions from support to increasingly strong opposition through ads that remind voters the campaign is based on its reading of the Bible, we’ll see how quickly support continues to decline. There’s less than two weeks left and the signs point to a possible defeat of this thing.
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