A few weeks ago, Kathy and I helped set up and run the Human Rights Campaign booth at Triad Pride in Greensboro, NC. Amidst the overall activity of the Pride event from the time it officially started right through the time we had to leave four hours later, hundreds of people came through with most stopping to sign petitions against the marriage inequality amendment being considered in North Carolina. In fact, so many people signed the petitions that we ran out of forms and had to use older forms supporting marriage equality in general.
Amidst the constant traffic at the table with people signing petition forms, registering membership with HRC, and taking free bumper stickers and temporary equality tattoos, it was clear that there were a lot of straight allies, friends, and family members who came to support equality. And among the straight allies were religious leaders, community volunteers, and a few elected officials. The slowly growing trend I see is more and more straight allies are going from being quietly supportive of equality, or at least privately against inequality, to actually going to events and showing support. They are signing petitions that support the equal rights that they already have.
As the North Carolina legislature debates whether or not to put an anti-marriage amendment on the ballot for 2012, the proponents of this measure should probably take stock of the actual mood of the state and its citizens and not just the people who support them financially in their campaigns. North Carolina has long been a state that outlaws marriage for anyone other than one man and one woman based on statutes that go way back. However, it has been a lone holdout in the Deep South as not having a constitutional provision to the same effect, and so North Carolina has been a more welcoming state to LGBT couples and individuals that hasn’t gotten enough support to overturn the ban on same-gender marriage. But now the proponents of the anti-marriage amendment want to “update the hate” in North Carolina and not just sit on the marriage inequality already on the books. If the response we’ve seen in Greensboro at Triad Pride is any indication of the voter’s mood, then they may be in for a surprise.