It’s nice to have so many allies from around the country coming out in support of the effort to defeat Amendment One. One such partner is Democracy for America (DFA), a nationwide grassroots PAC with one million members strong.
“Equality is not a privilege, it is a right,” said Jim Dean (@TheJimDean), Chair of DFA. “We cannot ask our gay and lesbian community members and their families to accept anything less than true equality – Amendment One is an attack on all families regardless of their make-up and should be voted down on May 8th.”
“It is time that bigotry take a backseat to true equality,” said Arshad Hasan, Executive Director of DFA. “We are a country whose greatest strength is our ability to cherish all people, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. Amendment One moves our country – and North Carolina in the wrong direction.”
I asked Jim Dean to expand on DFA’s interest in what is happening North Carolina and why people outside of NC should get involved; here’s what he had to say.
PS: What does DFA see as the most pressing concern that people need to know about Amendment One that represents harms to the LGBT community and those in domestic partnerships? Does DFA see this effort in NC to defeat it a critical political touchstone – and if so, why?
JD: It’s really simple. We believe in equal rights for everyone. That principle is the basis of our constitution and is an undercurrent that flows through all aspects of our great country. Amendment One represents an attempt to discriminate against people who are not married to a member of the opposite gender, but as written would ban legal recognition for all unmarried couples and would strip many protections and benefits from many families in North Carolina. This amendment is wrong – plain and simple because any attempt to discriminate against one segment of the population is an attempt to discriminate against everyone.
It is crucial that North Carolinians send a message to the rest of the country that we are bigger than this. Our members in North Carolina have made it clear that they want to fight against this intolerance. When voters go to the polls on May 8th I believe that North Carolina will send a very positive message to the country – That this type of discrimination will not be tolerated. Amendment One will be the turning point for gay and lesbian couples that hope to get married and I believe we will see a sea change for marriage equality continue across the country especially since a recent PPP poll shows that 53% of voters support allowing gay and lesbian couples having the right to marry or a right to civil unions.
PS: Proponents of the amendment in NC and in other similar ballot initiatives feel that putting this matter before voters represents democracy; explain how DFA’s view of this notion?
JD: Our constitution specifically states that all Americans are created equal and equality is not something that should be subjected to popular vote. This election in North Carolina represents a campaign by a few to legitimize and legalize discrimination against many North Carolinians including gay, straight, unmarried, elderly and a slew of others. Arguing that one class of people has more equality than another is not an American value and continues to promote an ‘us vs. them’ mentality we see cropping in state legislatures across the country. DFA has joined the coalition fighting Amendment One because we believe that North Carolinians see through this bogus attempt to legitimize discrimination – just as we defeated all of the other “electoral” attempts to legitimize discrimination against African Americans, Irish Catholics, Jews, Italians, Muslims and – yes- Mormons, throughout our country’s history. A ”vote against” on Amendment One in North Carolina is the right thing to do and I believe will prevail on May 8th.
PS: In terms of educating voters, amendment one is about discrimination, not equality, since marriage equality is not on the ballot — and will likely never be in NC (we’ll have to wait for a SCOTUS here). Its goal is not just “protecting marriage” but also the elimination of locally sanctioned domestic partnerships and any future consideration of civil unions or marriage for lesbian and gay couples. We’ve seen political leaders across the political spectrum in NC come out against this amendment, how does DFA view this trend?
Discrimination and marriage equality will go hand in hand until DOMA is repealed. It’s one thing to be against discrimination and another to be for marriage equality. We’ve seen this argument take shape in state legislatures for many years by people who fight discrimination on multiple fronts but cannot find it in their hearts to support their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters. The work of the spiritual community to come out against Amendment One has really struck a chord with members of that community in North Carolina. The amount of work that has gone into educating voters and political leaders have been incredible and I think that will be the difference in this election. Starting early with communities whose support is crucial to defeat an amendment that directly discriminates will be a tactic that will be used time and again. I think more organizations and activists in this fight will start turning to the Democratic Party to take leadership on supporting marriage equality initiatives and at the same time standing up and defeating any efforts to actively discriminate against LGBT people. I admire and commend the courage of many who have stood up against this amendment. I am especially respectful of those whose own personal or religious beliefs do not support LGBT rights and who are standing up against Amendment one anyway because them advocating for discrimination is wrong. Many of these folks are sacrificing important personal, public, religious and professional relationships to stand up for America and it’s values. That’s the stuff of greatness and that is a key reason we are going to defeat Amendment One on May 8th.
As the chair of Democracy for America, Jim Dean is committed to carrying on the legacy of his brother, Governor Howard Dean. As DFA’s key spokesperson and fundraiser, Jim keeps DFA in the national spotlight, and brings DFA’s mission across the country to all 50 states. He meets with candidates, organizers, party leaders and activists, inspiring everyone to get involved and take back our country. Jim has been involved with DFA since its founding in 2004.
What you can do to help on Amendment One:
1. Contribute to the campaign on ActBlue so they have the resources they need to get our message out.
2. Sign up for a Courageous Conversation about Amendment One with someone you know in NC.
4. Download social media tools and yard signs to show your opposition to Amendment 1.
5. Volunteer to Call for Equality – a GOTV phone banking effort against Amendment 1.