RALEIGH — LGBT community members here and across North Carolina are gearing up to counter a scheduled stop on a national anti-gay organization’s tour against marriage equality for same-sex couples.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which has played instrumental roles in several anti-gay initiatives, plans to hold a rally at the State Capitol at noon on Tuesday, Aug. 10. Pro-equality groups Freedom to Marry and the Courage Campaign have been tracking the anti-gay “Summer for Marriage” tour since it began in Augusta, Maine, on July 14. Most stops on NOM’s tour have drawn little support and overwhelming pro-LGBT protesters.
Grassroots activists have planned several actions around the same time on Tuesday, according to four Facebook event postings. They include three protests and an Interfaith Prayer Day. One of the protests, organized by the Triangle Atheist, Agnostic, Freethinker, and Humanist Meetup and Triangle Freethought Society, promises to “greet [NOM] peacefully with a strong show of solidarity in support of marriage equality.”
In addition, statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality North Carolina plans on having “truth squads” present to speak to media and counter the often false assertions of NOM organizers.
Freedom to Marry communications director Sean Eldridge told qnotes Friday his group might not have staff on the ground in Raleigh. Instead, his group is working closely with local organizers, he said in an article in qnotes‘ July 24 print edition.
“Freedom to Marry is working very closely with every state organization and local partner to figure out what makes the most sense in every area,” Eldridge said, noting what works in New York or Iowa won’t work in other places.
Equality North Carolina executive director Ian Palmquist has previously noted any counter-events would be “North Carolina-led.” He’s said such locally-planned and -led events will work best for North Carolina’s interests. For the past seven years, North Carolina’s state legislature has declined to debate a state constitutional amendment on marriage.
NOM’s stop in Raleigh comes on the heels of a federal court’s decision ruling California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in San Francisco on Aug. 4 that the ballot initiative violated gay and lesbian Americans’ constitutional guarantees of Equal Protection and Due Process.
Eldridge said he doesn’t expect the ruling will gave NOM any boost in attendance at their Raleigh rally.
“We’ve seen pretty unsurprisingly small numbers at their events across the country so far,” he said. “I don’t think the Prop 8 decision is going to dramatically inflate their numbers. We’ll find out, of course. I think their empty message of discrimination is losing traction and more and more people are realizing there is no good reason to exclude same-sex couples from marriage. That trend is only going to continue.”
Get more information on planned counter-protests via Facebook: