Opponents of gay marriage amendment march in North Carolina

The (Raleigh) News & ObserverMarch 16, 2012 

RALEIGH — Several hundred opponents of the proposed amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions tried to win more “No” votes with a march to the state government complex Thursday.

Participants said they hoped their message about the harm that would come with the amendment’s passage would make voters think about how unmarried couples and their children should be treated.

The crowd included toddlers, teenagers, workers in their 50s, gay people, straight people and a few Libertarians.

Speakers at a rally behind the Legislative Building said it was important for opponents to talk to their neighbors and family members about defeating the amendment.

“It changes their minds as soon as you realize your daughter or your best friend or your roommate in college is gay,” said Cory Livengood of Raleigh. “It’s a lot harder to pull that lever.” The question will be on the May 8 primary ballot.

Campaigns for and against the amendment are picking up, with rallies, debates and government resolutions picking a side.

The Vote Against Project, organized by Raleigh photographer Curtis Brown, has traveled the state taking portraits of opponents they can post to their Facebook pages.

The campaign supporting the amendment, Vote for Marriage NC, hitched a ride on the “Values Bus” tour of cities and towns this month to build support. Campaign spokeswoman Rachel Lee said pro-amendment events are scheduled every day, and 10,000 pastors have information about voter registration drives.

The Libertarian Party this week announced it opposed the amendment. Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Barbara Howe and a few supporters of GOP presidential primary candidate Ron Paul attended the rally.

There’s no reason for the government to meddle in people’s personal relationships, said Jason Voluntaryist, an N.C. State junior who sported a Ron Paul T-shirt. He believes legislators’ decision to put the question on the primary ballot was a ploy to increase turnout of religious, conservative voters.

“I don’t have anything good to say about it,” he said.

The march turnout of about 300 fell far short of the 1,000 people organizers expected. Opponents face a challenge defeating an amendment that has passed in every state where it has appeared on the ballot.

Thirty states have passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast without one. The state has a law that makes same-sex marriage illegal.

A recent poll by the Civitas Institute, a conservative-leaning organization, shows voters approve of the amendment by a large margin. The poll, conducted Feb. 27 and 28, showed 64 percent of registered voters support the amendment and 30 percent oppose it. A poll earlier this year by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic leaning firm, also found the amendment winning by a wide margin, but also showed that support had ticked down over previous polls.

“We strongly believe we have the support base to win,” Lee said.

Vote for Marriage NC used the event to help raise money for its campaign.

“These activists have an agenda, and we must act now in order to put a stop to it,” Lee wrote in a Thursday fundraising email. “Will you stand by while activists seek to redefine marriage in our state, or will you join our efforts to protect marriage?”

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