CHARLOTTE — More than a dozen community members gathered at the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte Monday night to discuss and brainstorm strategies to oppose North Carolina’s anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment on marriage, civil unions and domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples.
Scott Bishop, a volunteer Equality North Carolina and Human Rights Campaign organizer, had called the meeting in an effort to network local grassroots activists. He said he hoped to organize weekly meetings where organizers could touch base and keep each other updated.
Approved by the legislature on Sept. 13, the amendment will be placed on a May 2012 primary ballot. Organizers say the primary ballot date could hold positive benefits for a potential amendment defeat.
Bishop stressed voter registration and turnout.
“This will be a get-out-the-vote campaign,” Bishop told the group. “We need to mobilize as many people as possible and get them to the polls on [May 8].”
Bishop said initial estimates indicate that any campaign to defeat the amendment will have to reach a large number of voters. He said students will be key to stopping the measure’s approval.
Community members have been working to organize an Oct. 15 rally in Uptown Charlotte. Several leaders, including Mecklenburg County Commission Chairman Jennifer Roberts, are scheduled to speak. Some 300 people have said they are attending the rally at the event’s Facebook page.
Activists recognize that many in North Carolina’s LGBT community are angry, but are cautioning community members to speak out with love.
“Love has a lot more power than anger,” said rally organizer Noelle DeAtley. “We can’t afford to be angry. True love — you can’t beat it with hate and fear.”
Jay Leach, pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte, said he was hopeful that the amendment could be defeated, describing the potential victory as a “when,” not an “if.”
Bishop told the crowd that the next eight months of the campaign will prove successful if community members can attract large numbers of volunteers. Equality North Carolina will be looking for phone-bankers, canvassers and other volunteers throughout the campaign season.
info: Learn more about the amendment and Equality North Carolina at equalitync.org.