Hero of the Week: May 4, Dr. William Barber II

4 May

Hero of the Week

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.

12 Responses to “Hero of the Week: May 4, Dr. William Barber II”

  1. nevercontrary May 4, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    Oh these are the days of our lives. Marriage between two people who love each other is illegal here too.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt May 4, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

      I was very happy to see Dr. Barber preaching equality instead of hate though. He really understands civil rights!

      • nevercontrary May 4, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

        I am too. I just am so overwhelmed by all the hate coming out the state at the moment.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt May 4, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

        It is overwhelming! It is also exceedingly difficult to be the target of such hate!

      • nevercontrary May 4, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

        It chips away at your soul every day. I don’t think anyone can truly understand unless they have experienced similar discrimination.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt May 4, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

        Sadly true and even more sad when elected officials discriminate against us!

  2. newsofthetimes May 5, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    This is great. Thanks for posting. It is inspiring to see an organization pushing back against the calculated attempts to divide oppressed groups. It is easy to stay in siloes and wait for the hate to be squarely aimed at one’s particular group. It takes a lot of power away from people who are preaching hatred for us all to stand together and say no more!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt May 5, 2012 at 7:40 am #

      Can you imagine the power we might have if all marginalized groups united for civil rights for all? Of course, this would mean women, blacks, LGBT folks, etc, would have to stop voting against their best interest–which means stop voting Republican.

      • newsofthetimes May 5, 2012 at 8:18 am #

        Exactly! That’s why tthey work so hard to divide us and pit groups against each other. Which is very complicated forr people who fit into a number of the siloes that they try to place us in. Maybe we need to start a third party! Although that could lead to taking votes from Democrats and getting a tea party darling as President, which is a frightening prospect. Love your post. It gives me some hope.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt May 5, 2012 at 8:31 am #

        I’m glad it gives you some hope. I hope one day soon we will see several political parties, including a socialist party and a green party.

  3. newsofthetimes May 5, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    And tea party aand libertarian. With publicly financed campaigns. Now THAT might make a difference!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt May 5, 2012 at 9:25 am #

      Yes, we certainly have to address how campaigns are financed. It is clear that the “SuperPacs” have more money than Obama will ever find–difficult to compete with corporate greed.

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