In a world where oppressed populations are often pitted against one another — and too often allow self-interest to permit such actions — it is wonderful to see someone stand up and loudly say, “Enough!” This week’s HWA goes to Dr. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP. Responding to the cynical and loathsome tactics of NOM and its allies to split the African-American and LGBTQ communities, he has issued a strong statement.
Barber is responding to Amendment One, a proposed amendment to the NC constitution that would create a one-man-one-woman definition of marriage. Like a number of other, similar amendments in other states — all of which have passed — it also broadly prohibits anything that remotely resembles marriage equality. This would block civil unions and domestic partnerships and wreak havoc with LGBT couples’ wills and other legal arrangements.
In a strongly-worded Open Letter to All North Carolinians, he makes his case clearly and eloquently.
The NAACP has always opposed any custom, tradition, practice, law or constitutional amendment that denies any right to any person [and] has a long history of opposing any proposal that would alter the federal or state constitutions for the purpose of excluding any group or individuals from guarantees of equal protection under the law. Our opposition is based on our mission statement which calls for the “equality of rights of all persons.” … The North Carolina legislature is not the modern day Council of Nicaea — and we should not want it to be. How should the government address the public policy challenges of abject poverty, unemployment, poor education, economic justice, caring for those without health care, and equal protection under law? These are the questions that the legislature should be addressing. We should not allow my tax dollars, and my beloved state of North Carolina, to put their beliefs into our state’s most important document, to dictate to the consciences of other people here.
Well said, Rev. Barber! The vote on Amendment One is next Tuesday and the polling is very tight. Let us hope that the work of the NC NAACP and other equality-minded groups makes it clear what this amendment does and pushes North Carolina to be the first state to vote down such a bigoted amendment.
Honorable mention this week goes to the eleven state Democratic Party chairs who have joined the chorus pushing the DNC to include full marriage equality in the party platform this fall. Calling for the inclusion are John Burton of California, Joan Wagnon of Kansas, John Walsh of Massachusetts, Ken Martin of Minnesota, Jon Wisniewski of New Jersey, Jay Jacobs of New York, Meredith Wood Smith of Oregon, Boyd Richie of Texas, Jake Perkinson of Vermont, Dwight Pelz of Washington, and Mike Tate of Wisconsin. Nice to see our home state of Oregon on this list.