Challenging Amendment 1

February 15, 2012

GREENSBORO, N.C.--On February 7, the Greensboro City Council voted to support a resolution opposing an anti-LGBT amendment that Republicans and Democrats agreed to put on the May primary ballot.

While same-sex marriage is already illegal in North Carolina, state legislators wanted to take the level of discrimination experienced by LGBT people to another level by passing an amendment to the state constitution declaring that the only legally recognized relationship is that of marriage between one man and one woman.

The measure would strip same-sex couples (and also heterosexual couples who are not married) of their right to receive benefits from state and city employers. Many cities in North Carolina, including Greensboro, extend employee benefits to domestic partners in a long-term relationship, but legal scholars agree that Amendment 1 would become a basis for ending this extension.

This and the other devastating effects of the law have fueled a large opposition to the amendment.

Grassroots coalitions that have been organizing to have North Carolinians vote against the bigoted measure won a victory on February 7 with the passage of the Greensboro City Council resolution--the first such resolution passed in a city in North Carolina. Activists hope the success of the effort in Greensboro will encourage other cities to pass similar resolutions.

Perhaps even more important than the political effect of the resolution was the confidence activists gained building for and participating in the City Council meeting. We outnumbered the homophobic Amendment 1 supporters--who during the meeting referred to LGBT people as "perverted" and "sinful"--by a margin of 15 to 1, packing the meeting with a multiracial coalition that more accurately represented the city. Approximately 50 people spoke in favor of the resolution opposing Amendment 1. Only a handful spoke against.

Of the nine-member council, seven voted in favor of the resolution opposing Amendment 1, one abstained (though because of City Council rules, her vote was counted as an automatic "yes") and another voted to support Amendment 1 (the same council member also tried to postpone the vote on the resolution to prevent activists from taking over the public hearing).

Actions are continuing to build opposition to the amendment. On Valentine's Day, All of Us NC and the We Are Campaign are hosting community events. The Greensboro International Socialist Organization is hosting a meeting on February 23 called "LGBT Rights are Human Rights" that will trace the radical legacy of LGBT activism. Major panel meetings are planned in Winston-Salem and Greensboro.

Activists feel we can win this fight--that we can make this North Carolina's "Mississippi moment," and that we can then take this fight on the offensive.

Further Reading

From the archives