Pro-equality rally seeks to bring attention to anti-gay amendment
by Matt Comer
RALEIGH, N.C. — Grassroots activists across North Carolina are planning to converge in the state capital in June to rally against an anti-gay constitutional amendment that could ban marriage and other public and private relationships for same-sex couples.
The North Carolina chapter of GetEqual, a national LGBT grassroots activism group, and Boone, N.C.-based Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), a student organization at Appalachian State University, are taking the lead on the June 2 event, slated for Halifax Mall at the North Carolina Legislative Building.
On May 17, anti-gay activists and representatives from national right-wing organizations, including one Southern Poverty Law Center-named hate group,gathered in Raleigh with 3,500 supporters of the amendment. Two versions of the legislation are being considered in the legislature. The Senate version could ban both public and private relationships like marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships offered by private companies. The House version seeks to ban only marriage.
Organizers of the June 2 rally, organized in response to the May 17 event, call the attempt to amend the constitution “the North Carolina anti-gay super-DOMA,” referring to the state’s already extant Defense of Marriage Act, a statute banning recognition of same-sex relationships and passed by the legislature in 1996. They say citizens should be outraged that lawmakers are again attempting to make LGBT equality a wedge issue in the upcoming 2012 election year, when the amendment would appear on the ballot if passed by the legislature this session.
“You’ve heard the saying ‘If you are not outraged you’re not paying attention’, but outrage is easy, action is hard,” organizer Angel Chandler of GetEqual said in a press release. “We have to be willing to do more than sign a petition or send in an email to our representatives. We have to be willing to take action. On June 2nd we will take a stand to let our North Carolina lawmakers know that we refuse to be even further alienated from and discriminated by our government. We are all equal, and it is time our government started treating us as such.”
Pro-gay rallies in Raleigh have been few, but there have been previous successes. Following the passage of California’s anti-gay constitutional amendment, some 1,400 LGBT and allied North Carolinians marched on Halifax Mall and downtown Raleigh. Organizers of the June 2 rally hope to bring just as many people this go around.
Speakers so far confirmed for the rally include Democratic Buncombe County Reps. Susan Fischer and Patsy Keever.