NC NAACP President to present open letter against anti-LGBT constitutional amendment at Equality NC’s Conference Keynote Panel
A vote on the same sex marriage amendment has nothing to do with your personal and religious opinion on same sex marriage but everything to do with whether or not you believe discrimination should be codified and legalized constitutionally. We should never seek to codify discrimination into the very heart and framework of our Constitution.”
– Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP
The above is a message that is crystal clear and should resonate with anyone with a shred of common sense; alas, the state of North Carolina has a way-too-generous number of elected officials in our legislature who lack it. And that is why our state is facing a vote on the civil rights of a group of tax-paying residents on the May 8, 2012 ballot.
That said, I will have the pleasure of participating in the keynote panel discussion with Rev. Barber as he delivers the North Carolina NAACP’s open letter against discrimination at the 2011 Equality NC Foundation Conference & Gala on November 12 in Greensboro. The letter, released in September, was a powerful, nuanced statement that addressed the fundamental differences between church and state, and affirmed that:
[T]he NAACP 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.”
Rev. Barber’s letter came just as the NC General Assembly forced this bigoted legislation through without public hearings and little debate. It was a shameful, sorry example of democracy by the Republican-led House and Senate. Our tax dollars hard at work.
This process was so careless that what legislators were asked to vote on in September is different from what voters will see on their May 8, 2012 ballots. While the amendment’s language is untested and its full array of harms is unclear, legal experts agree that, if passed, the measure would lead to a constitutional ban on same-gender marriages and civil unions, as well as strip domestic partners of benefits.
In terms of the keynote panel at the conference, the letter is part of a broader response and discussion about how North Carolina’s social justice and human rights movements can strengthen the fight against the constitutional amendment referendum. ENC:
The 2011 Equality NC Foundation Conference keynote panel includes four other human rights leaders: Rev. Nancy Petty of Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church; Rev. T. Anthony Spearman of Clinton Tabernacle AME Zion Church in Hickory and Chair of the NAACP’s Religious Affairs Committee; Pam Spaulding, called “the most important lesbian blogger in America” and granddaughter of the late Asa T. Spaulding, a national leader of civil rights from Durham; and Caitlin Breedlove, a leader of Southerners On a New Ground (S.O.N.G.), an organization with an inclusive human rights and anti-racism agenda guiding its southern organizing work.
“Equality NC is excited to have Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, a nationally-recognized leader of the human rights movement, lead a discussion with Conference participants on how to fight against this type of divisive, distracting and discriminatory measure,” said Stuart Campbell, Executive Director of Equality NC Foundation.
Oy; I don’t know about being “the most important” anything, but I will be in stellar company on November 12 to discuss the issues we face as a coalition of communities that oppose this ballot initiative. The Equality NC Foundation event will also serve as the official kick-off of the statewide LGBT advocacy organization’s part in a coalition campaign to defeat the amendment — and turn the tide against LGBT discrimination in the South.