Anti-gay lobbyist says Asheville activists 'setting up state for lawsuit'
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A new YouTube video posted by the Coalition for Southern Equality documents their two-week “We Do” Campaign to raise awareness on the issue of marriage discrimination in North Carolina.
Since Oct. 3, the group has organized more than a dozen same-sex couples who have attempted to obtain marriage licenses from the Buncombe County Register of Deeds. Each have been denied licenses.
The campaign ends on Friday, with a public blessing, direct action and civil disobedience.
In one scene, an older lesbian couple is told they cannot receive a license.
“We’ve been together for 25 years,” one of the partners responds. “We’re in our mid-60s. Can you tell us what steps we might take to become full and equal citizens under the law before we die? Can you help us with that?”
The attending registrar, who says their office respects equality, commended the couple for their courage.
Last week, Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger said on his Facebook page that he was torn between upholding the law and treating his friends equally.
“…[T]oday when I was asked to give a friend of mine, who happens to be gay, a marriage license, I had to deny her and her partner of 30 years the joy of marriage and it broke my heart,” he wrote. “In order to create change and be a part of a world that equally recognizes all people, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation, we need to work hard to elect leaders who will stand up for equality.”
See the “We Do” Campaign video below.
The Asheville campaign has received mixed reviews from both gay and anti-gay organizers. In particular, anti-gay lobbyist Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the pro-amendment group North Carolina Values Coalition, has called the campaign a “strategic mistake.” On Wednesday, she wrote to the Jacksonville Daily News, saying the Asheville couples are “setting up our state for a lawsuit.”
She added, “Only an amendment to the state constitution will keep marriage from being redefined, and our legislature acted proactively to allow the people of our state to protect marriage from being redefined.”
In related news, a new poll by Durham firm Public Policy Polling shows the amendment starting out with a 61-34 percent lead. The newest results contradict earlier polls, which asked voters about general relationship recognition for same-sex couples.
“Voters are against ‘prohibiting’ recognition for gay couples. But if you word it in such a way that all you’re doing is defining marriage as between one man and one woman, voters are ok with that,” the firm says. “You’re asking about the same thing in both cases, but the semantics make a huge difference and Republicans clearly know what they’re doing with the language that’s on the ballot.”
The anti-LGBT constitutional amendment would ban recognition of marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples and could deny recognition of some benefits to unmarried opposite-sex couples, as well. It will appear on North Carolina’s May 8, 2012, ballot.