Gay Rights Groups Regroup as Amendment Passes

The constitutional amendment passed Tuesday with 61 percent of the vote, but in Wake only 43 percent of voters approved the amendment.

As the news that Amendment One had passed began to spread around downtown Raleigh a little after 9 p.m., so did a mixed wave of emotions.

While some tears were shed, and plenty of hugs were passed around the LGBT Center on Hillsborough Street, the overall atmosphere was one of encouragement and resolution.

Lorraine Johnson is a board member for Equality NC, but chose to spend her election night at the community center, win or lose, rather than at the party held by Equality NC.

"I am here because this is my family," Johnson said. "In the end, all the politics, all they're about is community."

She said the LGBT community knew they would have a tough time fighting the amendment as soon as they found out it would go onto the ballot.

She pointed out that every state that has fought similar legislation has faced an uphill battle — and those states had 12 months to prepare. North Carolina only had six months.

"So from the beginning we had to have a coalition," Johnson said. She said the coalition that emerged is the silver lining to the whole vote: Most states who have faced this sort of legislation lost by at least 75 percent of the vote. The amendment was opposed in NC by almost 40 percent of voters.

A few blocks away, at the Amendment One opposition party held at The Stockroom, Deputy Finance Director for the Coalition Jon Broyhill echoed this sentiment.

"What the opposition doesn't know is that all they have done is awoken a sleeping giant," Broyhill said. "We have such a strong coalition now, and we're not going anywhere."

On the other side of town, at the North Raleigh Hilton on Wake Forest Road, the party looked a little different. At 9:21, when the announcement was made that the results had been called in favor of the amendment, a sustained cheer spread throughout the crowd of almost 200 people and slices of wedding cake were served.

Victory Peterson, center, applauds win for the marriage amendment. (Karen Tam)

"Through God's great Mercy we have won an overwhelming victory," said Tami Fitzgerald, chair of Vote for Marriage NC. “We have wanted one thing only: to protect marriage as a union between one man and one woman. We are not anti-gay. We are pro-marriage. You do not rewrite God’s law.”

Skip Stam, the house Republican leader, said he isn't too concerned about the amendment being repealed later.

"The younger people who didn’t support the amendment haven’t married and had children," Stam said. "When they do that, then they’ll understand the importance of marriage.”

But civil rights groups, including the ALCU and Equality NC are already looking toward that next step. Communications Manager of the American Civil Liberties Union Mike Meno said they will hold a press conference Wednesday at the LGBT Center on Hillsborough Street to talk about what happens next.

"Even if we had won tonight, the fight still isn't over," Meno said. "There are a lot of other ways in which LGBT citizens are second class."

Executive Director of Equality NC Stuart Campbell has been involved in the fight for LGBT rights for more than 20 years, and made it his career a couple of years ago after the upsurge in teen LGBT suicides.

He called the passing of the amendment a temporary setback, also referencing the LGBT community in the state as an awakened giant.

"We now have a progressive infrastructure that will help us move to the next stage in LGBT equality in North Carolina," Campbell said.

Will Huntsberry contributed to this report.

8 thoughts on “Gay Rights Groups Regroup as Amendment Passes

  1. “You do not rewrite God’s law.” — But North Carolina’s Constitution is not God’s law, correct?

  2. Hundreds of unmarried heterosexuals are now going to lose employment benefits, but in the name of religion this is a good thing right? Hahaha, you got what you wanted.

  3. I can’t help but crack up laughing when that Tami Fitzgerald has the gall to say she’s not anti-gay. That’s the biggest lie I’ve heard all week. She and her group are nothing but vehement bigots. Put lipstick on the pig all you want Tami—-we ain’t buying it.

  4. I have found most of those supporting the amendment had no idea what it said, nor what the repercussions might be. One of my co-workers (and friends) is gay and we have others who work with us who adore him, but voted for the amendment. They never connected the dots that this amendment might harm someone they know and care about. It will be interesting to see what the fall-out from this is. I am ashamed to have to claim NC as home right now, but I pray things will get better.

  5. Candace Smith, sorry but I’m a gay person and 90% those people who voted for the amendment knew exactly what they were doing. Just imagine if your gay co-worker voted to take away your chance to marry.

  6. LOOK PEOPLE THIS ISSUE IS STRAIGHT FORWARD AND VERY SIMPLE, READ THE KING JAMES VERSION OF THE HOLY BIBLE. IN BIBLICAL TIMES, MEN AND WOMEN WERE DOING THE SAME NASTY ACTS WITH EACH OTHER THEY ARE DOING TODAY, MAM ON MAM AND WOMAN ON WOMAN, GOD SENT HIS ANGELS ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION TO TELL THEM TO STOP THEIR NASTY SINFUL WAYS. THEY DIDN’T SO GOD BURNED THE WHOLE CITY DOWN AND KILLED EVERY BODY IN IT. THAT WAS A WONDERFUL DAY IN HISTORY,OBEY GOD OR SUFFER THE CONQUENCES. HE HAS ALREADY PUT AIDS AND HERPIES ON YOU WHEN IS ENOUGH GOING TO BE ENOUGH?. THE AMENDMENT PASSED BY A LANDSLIDE, THANK GOD THERES STILL ENOUGH CHRISTIANS TO STAND UP FOR WHATS RIGHT. AND NOT ENOUGH OF YOU EVIL DEVIL WORSHIPERS, QUEERS AND LESBOS.

  7. Junior, your all caps screaming aside, I must disagree with you. First, I have read the Old Testament and studied it in depth and there are few instances, besides Sodom and Gomorrah, where licentiousness was an issue. God seemed far more concerned with His chosen people worshiping false Gods, such as money and idols. Thankfully, God made a new covenant with all believers when he sent Christ, whose message is love, acceptance, service and tolerance. You will never convert anyone with your hate. Hopefully someone will convict you, with their love and generosity, of your intolerance and hatred.

    The only time Christ was angry in the Bible was when vendors were selling sacrificial animals to the poor at unfair prices and changing their coins for temple coins at a profit, taking advantage of the least of God’s people. All of us Christians can all be thankful we do not live under the old covenant, but under the new. I pray for you and the judgmental like you.

  8. Jasonb84, I hope you didn’t misinterpret my post. I voted against the amendment and was attempting to express my incredulity that others voted for the amendment when they knew it would hurt people they know and love. I certainly do not agree with the amendment and will do whatever I can to get it overturned. It is shocking to me that our forefathers fought so hard to separate church and state, yet so many now believe there should be no separation. If we had ever had to suffer under a government that dictated what we must believe, I’m sure we would not take this separation for granted much less try to dismantle it.