RALEIGH, N.C. — It was a dark day on May 8 for the LGBT community when over 60 percent of those who voted across the state said yes to Amendment One, a piece of anti-gay legislation that now recognizes only marriage as between one man and one woman.
Reactions have been mixed throughout the Tar Heel State and the nation.
The day before the election, Vice President Joe Biden gave a thumbs-up to gay marriage. The day afterward, the first-ever sitting leader of the U.S., President Barak Obama, also came out in support of gay marriage.
Since then, outcries from Hollywood and beyond have come in lamenting the passage of Amendment One.
Native son, Clay Aiken, runner-up on both “American Idol” and “The Celebrity Apprentice,” told Entertainment Weekly that coming out is not as big a deal as it was in 2003. He also stated that being gay openly has had more of a positive impact than negative. Aiken added that he felt that Obama’s announcement would not damage his re-election efforts in North Carolina.“I think that we’d like to see politicians speak out on principle a little bit more and not just make a political calculation.” Aiken appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” with anti-gay Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Ted Olsen, an attorney who is leading the charge on the federal case to strike down California’s Proposition 8, Mark McKinnon, a G.O.P strategist, Evan Wolfson, a same-sex marriage activist, and others. Aiken appeared to be polished and conducted himself in a statesman-like manner.
Meanwhile New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was present at the commencement exercises at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on May 13. He was vocal about post-Amendment One voting, telling AP that it set back civil rights.
Over at the capital, Gov. Beverly Purdue expressed her disappointment after the vote was counted. She apologized to Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and his state for saying that the ban on gay marriage made North Carolina “look like Mississippi,” Medialite reported.
To the north on May 9 in Washington, D.C., the House of Representatives voted on three anti-gay amendments: two, offered in the House Armed Services Committee, amended the National Defense Authorization Act and the other was an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Act. They all passed.
Freedom to Marry’s Che Ruddell-Tabisola said that the latter would bar the use of funds for anything in contravention of the Defense of Marriage Act. The actions relative to the first two have to do with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 and the prohibition of the Defense Department’s facilities being used for private marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, even if state laws permit it. Additionally, the second item would be used to discriminate against LGB service members with regard to religion. This goes contrary to the provisions brought forth in the First Amendment and the Military Equal Opportunity program. The amendment purports to ensure that DADT repeal and open service does not infringe upon the free exercise of religion by, and rights of conscience of, members of the Armed Forces, including chaplains, Ruddell-Tabisola added. She said that Freedom to Marry looked forward to working with members of the Respect for Marriage Coalition to rid the three amendments during conference.
The Charlotte City Council has put the brakes on its plans for providing domestic partner benefits in view of the statewide vote. They have referred the matter to the state attorney general “as to whether that would be legal after the passage of Amendment One,” The Charlotte Observer reported. A similar situation took place in Winston-Salem, the Winston-Salem Journal said.
The Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality (CRANE) hung a banner on the Hawthorne Ln. bridge on May 17 in protest of Amendment One’s passage. It read: “Equality Will Prevail.” The group plans on more actions to “raise awareness and agitate toward positive, LGBTQI-inclusive change in Charlotte and North Carolina.”
The Huffington Post reported that musician Ben Folds (“America’s Best Dance Crew” judge), another North Carolina native, was embarrassed his home state passed the amendment. Huffington also said that comedians Seth Rogen and Ellen DeGeneres, model Brooklyn Decker, Scissor Sisters’ Jake Sears, actor Neil Patrick Harris, actress Tori Spelling, actor Russell Brand, legendary actress Mia Farrow, Rev. Al Sharpton, comedian Kathy Griffin, actor Alan Cumming, RuPaul, actor Zach Braff, actress and comedian Sandra Bernhard, and others were disappointed. It seems that it’s not illegal to marry one’s cousin in the state, but it is if they are of the same sex, some commented. Roseanne Barr, an actress and activist, tweeted that there should be a boycott against the North Carolina counties that “voted for bigotry.” She has a gay brother and a lesbian sister.
Now, the NAACP has voiced their support for gay marriage in the wake of President Obama’s announcement, having passed a resolution to the same. Politico 44 reported, “‘Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law,’ NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said in the statement. ‘The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people.’”
Meanwhile, couples have protested the marriage ban and headed out to obtain marriage licenses as part of the Campaign for Southern Equality’s “We Do” campaign. They went to eight towns and cities across North Carolina from May 8-15 which included Wilson, Durham, Winston-Salem, Bakersville, Marshall, Asheville, Asheboro and Charlotte. AP reported that Brent Morin and Gerald Morin tried to get one in Winston-Salem and were denied. However, they were married in Washington, D.C., where the union is recognized. All told, nine couples attempted but were refused licenses at the Register of Deeds office in Winston-Salem when they presented completed forms and identification. Mary Jamis of Mocksville was arrested when she blocked the entrance to the marriage license office and refused to leave when the offices closed. She said she would not leave until she could obtain a license for her and her partner Starr Johnson. Other arrests were made across the state, including eight in Asheville.
The Daily Tar Heel added that the courts would probably hear cases on the issue. Things like dependent partner benefits and other issues relative to companies could come under question and would have to be interpreted. The language of the amendment has long been questioned.
Meanwhile, since passage of Amendment One and Obama’s declaration, the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling reported that there is an uptick of black voters in North Carolina who are now supportive of gay marriage, TPM Media said. It says that 55 percent of black voters in the state “believe same-sex couples should either be allowed to marry or form civil unions.”
On June 5 in Charlotte, attorney and activist Connie J.Vetter will lead a free legal presentation at 7 p.m. at the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, 820 Hamilton St., Suite B11. “Leading up to the vote there was a lot of talk about what would happen if it passed. Many people are now confused and scared about what is going to happen now. I want people to know what Amendment One really means and how they can protect themselves,” Vetter said.
So, for now, LGBT and allied Carolinians may be mourning the loss to Amendment One, but we will rise from the ashes to continue the fight for equality. : :
[Ed. Note: News continues to pour in regularly in the post-Amendment One world. Check back here for updates as we follow the events and conditions that are taking place in the Tar Heel State.]