Yesterday afternoon SB 106, the anti-LGBT constitutional amendment, was introduced in the North Carolina Senate. We asked you to take action in anticipation of this terrible bill, and it has already made a real difference.
Over 3,500 people emailed their senators in opposition to the bill in the last week, in addition to the nearly 200 people who met with legislators at Equality NC's Day of Action and hundreds of others who made phone calls. Although 23 senators sponsored the bill, a majority of senators (8 Republicans and all 19 Democrats) refused to sponsor this harmful legislation. That is a powerful signal that we can fight this thing and we can win.
You probably have some questions about the bill and what it means, and I'll try to answer some of those below.
First, I want you to know that Equality NC's top priority this year is to defeat this amendment in the legislature. It's a tall order in a tough political climate, but we've beaten the odds before. Our lobbyist, Dean Plunkett, and I are working hard every day to bring legislators on both sides of the aisle to our cause. We are mobilizing and expanding our base of activists across the state and engaging the public to stand up for fairness like never before.
I'll be calling on you to take action frequently in the coming weeks. I hope you can make a commitment right now to send those emails, make those phone calls, and volunteer your time at those critical moments. And I hope you'll enlist your friends, family, and colleagues in protecting all North Carolina families.
To learn more about the anti-gay amendment and what it means, check out the Frequently Asked Questions below.
Anti-Gay Amendment FAQWhat does the anti-gay* amendment say?
The bill would amend the state constition to include a new section that reads "Marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State." Click here to see the full text on the legislature's website.
What would the anti-gay amendment do?
The language proposed is the most extreme version of an anti-gay amendment. In addition to limiting marriage to oppositie sex couples, as state statute already does, it would prohibit any other form of relationship recognition, such as civil union or domestic partnership. This kind of language has been used in other states to take away private benefits such as health insurance for LGBT couples, unmarried opposite-sex couples, and their children. This is a not a hypothetical issue but a very real one. These amendments have also been used to challenge other private contracts between couples.
The amendment would not only write the current discriminatory marriage law into the constitution, it would actually take away rights and responsibilities that are currently available to some couples.
Who sponsored the anti-gay amendment?
(Click here to look up who your senator is if you don't know.)
What is the process to amend the constitution?
The bill must pass both the House and Senate by a 3/5ths margin (that's 30 of 50 votes in the Senate and 72 of 120 votes in the House). It would then be placed on the ballot in November 2012 where it would need a simple majority of voters to become part of the constitution. The governor does not have veto authority on constitutional amendments.
Call SB 106 what it is: "the anti-gay amendment." It's not about "defending" anyone's marriage. It's an attack on LGBT North Carolinians.
What are our key arguments against the amendment?
1. The anti-gay amendment causes real harm. It harms couples who will be denied even the most basic protections and it harms vulnerable LGBT young people by sending a terrible message that their state and their neighbors consider them second-class citizens unworthy of basic dignity and fair treatment, a message which exacerbates the epidemic of LGBT young people committing suicide.
2. The anti-gay amendment is bad for business. It intrudes on businesses' right to provide competetive benefits to their employees and it signals to major employers that our state is not welcoming of the diverse, creative workforce that is needed to compete in the global economy.
3. The anti-gay amendment is a discraction from the voters' priorities. The legislature was sent to Raleigh to tackle jobs, the economy, and the state budget, not to advance a divisive social agenda.
4. Marriage is already denied same-sex couples by state law. The amendment doesn't change marriage in any way. It simply attacks LGBT North Carolinians and puts their basic rights up for a vote.
5. Amending the constitution is an extreme act, not a conservative one. Constitutions are designed to protect rights and not to take them away. The rights of a minority should never be put to a majority vote.What can I do right now to make a difference?
· Call you state senator (if you haven't already done so in the last week) and your state representative today and let them know you oppose Senate Bill 106, the anti-gay amendment. (You can find their phone numbers here.)
· Make a contribution to Equality NC to fund our lobbying and community organizing to stop the anti-gay amendment.
· Help us send a message to the legislature by volunteering to get people in your community to complete postcards to their legislators in opposition to the anti-gay amendment. We'll make it easy and send you a kit with everything you need. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to sign up to help!
· Talk to your friends, family, and co-workers about the anti-gay amendment and why it must not pass. Tell them a story about how anti-LGBT discrimination has affected you or someone you love. Copy and post the following link on Facebook and Twitter, or email it to you friends to share this FAQ with them: http://bit.ly/eDG2Vv* We sometimes use "gay" in our public messaging when we mean LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) because not enough people know what LGBT means. We're starting with what's familiar to most North Carolinians so we reach as many folks as possible.
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