qnotes sees no need in perpetuating division among our community, but we are posting, in interest of fairness, important snippets of GetEqual NC’s open letter to Ian Palmquist and Equality North Carolina, which you can read in full at GetEqual NC’s blog. You can also read Equality North Carolina’s earlier statement and our editor’s June 11, 2011, editorial, “Direct action must be smart, strategic.”
GetEqual NC on their relationship with Equality North Carolina…
At GetEQUAL NC, we believe in working with every organization towards the goal of equality, despite differences in beliefs regarding tactics. Working in a way that doesn’t insult other organizations is important to our community and helps to build a stronger coalition. Insults, blame, and shame will only have one result: division and conflict. Unity between organizations, regardless of differences in tactics and direction, will make our community stronger and the movement more efficient. Unfortunately, Equality NC did not choose a path that represented professionalism and unity.
I understand from your statements to the press that Equality NC disagrees with our action. I only wish that as a leader of a state-wide LGBT rights organization, you had reached out to me, also a leader of a state-wide organization, before the rally or at least before your damning statements.
The statement released by Equality NC spoke of the willingness to partner with other groups. I have reached out to Equality NC many times, but have never received the “partnership” that you mentioned. I have emailed and spoken to members of EQNC staff, asking to sit down and talk about how our organizations could work together for the good of equality in North Carolina, was promised meetings, but never saw a result. Maybe if we had been able to sit down and discuss the issues at hand, you would have a better understanding of our goals, mission, and tactics and vice-versa.
Unfortunately, instead of offering the partnership so passionately mentioned in your statement, Equality NC has impeded our efforts on multiple occasions, which not only serves to strengthen the opposition and weaken our community, it emboldens our legislators to codify our second-class status.
On GetEqual NC’s mission and purpose…
GetEQUAL has one mission: equality. Our mission is not to spend many years building relationships with legislators at a cost of millions of dollars. Our mission is very similar to civil rights movements of the past. We very much believe in the necessity of civil disobedience and nonviolent direct action to affect change. There have been no oppressed groups in the history of our country that gained equality through a petition or postcard campaign. Petitions and postcards are an effective tool, but they cannot be successful alone. Dr. King stated it best when he stated, “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored”. Until we see full equality in North Carolina, GetEQUAL NC will work to create that tension, that crisis, that state of emergency that will force our elected representatives to confront the issue.
On GetEqual NC’s perceptions of failure by Equality North Carolina…
Many of us, including myself, in North Carolina have not expected legislators to pass marriage equality, or for that matter much other pro-equality legislation. However, we also didn’t expect to be attacked in the way that we have. If Equality NC had been successful in keeping the anti-marriage amendment at bay we may not have had the need for direct action in North Carolina, instead choosing to focus on a federal level. For whatever reason you were unsuccessful in keeping the amendment from being brought to committee, it created an environment where our rights are now under attack in a way we have not seen in North Carolina. For this reason, we can no longer rely on your organization to represent us, lobby, set up petitions, make friends in Raleigh, etc. We have to do more now that you have failed to prevent the measure from coming to committee. Unfortunately, all those years you spent building relationships, in the end, did not work. How I wish it had. It is time for more than the masses only relying on staff and lobbyists working for an organization with huge overhead; it is time for all North Carolinians to own our own equality. You tried it your way. Many years and millions of dollars later, we are facing a crisis that threatens the livelihood, safety, and basic rights of LGBT citizens of this state. In this state of emergency, we must act. We can act together, in unison for the same goal, or we can diverge down our own paths being at odds. Your choice. But if you choose to continue alienating us, and in doing so many others in North Carolina, you choose a path that splits the community, and is harmful for equality.