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.

Read the whole statement at GetEqual NC’s blog.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

2 replies on “GetEqual NC responds to Equality North Carolina”

  1. Give me a break. Their assumption that Equality NC has “failed” is quite premature.

    For years Equality NC has kept the amendment at bay. However, after the 2010 election the Republicans have swept both the NC House and Senate. No matter how strong a lobbying group Equality NC is, or any group in the world for that matter, the amendment was bound to be introduced and pursued.
    But that doesn’t mean they failed. It still could have been quietly dropped in the final days of the session, as many bills often are. But after the outburst of those three in the House chamber…you can forget that. Thanks!

  2. I have attempted to post a response on GetEQUAL’s web site, but my comment has been held in moderation for over 24 hours. My second comment attempt has also been blocked, so I will post a response to this letter here.

    Angel,

    It is clear that you are uninformed, willfully ignorant and deliberately mischaracterizing Equality NC’s history, current work and the situation in our state. For those inaccurate statements arising from this letter, you must be corrected.

    I was at the rally on June 2 because I heard about it through several channels including Equality NC’s e-newsletter.

    I was approached by folks to sign ENC’s postcards, but also other petitions or lists that did not appear to be related to ENC. I didn’t recognize anyone as staff members of any organizations. Some were volunteers in the local community that I know; others I did not know.

    What needs the most correction though is your complete lack of understanding of the NC General Assembly. If you don’t know that Equality NC has been working for years with Rep. Joe Hackney (before and after he became Speaker of the House) then you simply haven’t been paying attention to Equality NC’s communications. Even the most cursory reading of their emails over the years would have given you this knowledge. If you had done any actual research on their web site, you could have found a wealth of information.

    Equality NC has widely publicized awards their annual Legislative Champion awards to Rep. Rick Glazier, Rep. Paul Luebke, former Senator Julia Boseman, and Rep. Joe Hackney. As anyone remotely paying attention to the LGBT political landscape in North Carolina knows, ENC also has a PAC that endorses candidates for legislature (among other offices). These are the most obvious examples of ENC’s “naming names” of supporters and opponents over the years.

    Lists of sponsors of the amendment have been on the NC General Assembly’s web site ever since it was introduced. It’s been on Equality NC’s web site too. And it’s been that way every year.

    Equality NC’s most recent e-newsletter actually laid out very well what they were and are doing this session to stop the amendment. This included a door-to-door canvass in a targeted legislative district — it’s hard to get more grassroots than that. I’m sure you’ve also seen much of the same information posted on their Facebook page as you’ve supported (or “Liked”) criticisms of ENC on their own page.

    Also, the amendment hasn’t been heard in committee yet. It has been referred to a committee as is done with every other bill and as was done with the amendment every other year it was introduced — and failed to arrive on the ballot. On June 1, the amendment was no further down the legislative path than it ever has been in the history of the state. Your accusation that Equality NC hadn’t kept the amendment “at bay” is wholly inaccurate. In fact, it’s just a flat out lie.

    Every word I’ve typed about the legislature is not some secret knowledge. It’s publicly available information — all of it on the web for you to check out right now or anytime in the past. Often, it’s actually sent out by email in ENC’s e-newsletters, but you have to take the time to read and educate yourself.

    Lastly, your claim that Equality NC’s statements keep you from working together are only true if you and Equality NC let them become true.

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