Rev. Dr. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, arrived early to the fight to defeat Amendment One, the proposed state constitutional ban on marriage equality. He worked hard back in Sept. 2011 to avert its passage out of the legislature to the ballot.
He arrived early and he has stayed with the fight every step of the way. He has used his actual and bully pulpit to speak out on many occasions. He has stood with Amendment One opponents at rallies and events many times. Last week he taped a very powerful video message, seen above.
Thursday, the NAACP announced a statewide media campaign to "expose the truth" about Amendment One. Rev. Barber ties amendment proponents to the "same regressive, ultra-conservative Tea Party type folks" that have sought to roll back every progressive advance in education, voting and worker's rights, and attempts to repeal the Racial Justice Act. These are, of course, progressive advances we all collectively cherish, but also ones of particular concern for communities of color.
Rev. Barber references the revelation of National Organization for Marriage's abhorrent plan to drive a wedge between two key Democratic constituencies and says they "now somehow think the sons and daughters of the Civil Rights Movement cannot see through their Trojan Horse trick."
The NC NAACP will be running radio spots, robocalls, newspaper ads, and using their grassroots network in 50 county branches to work to defeat Amendment One.
This is really and extraordinary investment by the organization and its leader, and very much appreciated. Press release after the fold.
Emphasis from Protect ALL NC Families' original release:
I was aware of NAACP's active involvement early on, and it was a component of my early optimism on this battle, as I wrote back in early March. Sure, we lost 31 out of 32, but the breadth of our coalition is growing.
NC NAACP Rolls Out Statewide Media Campaign to
Expose the Truth About the Discriminatory Amendment One
This week, in the face of an extreme rightwing attack on minorities and the poor, the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP is rolling out a major media campaign to make clear the facts and constitutional dangers facing all North Carolinians through the discriminatory Amendment One.
Through ads in African-American newspapers, radio spots across the state, mailers, and robocalls to tens of thousands North Carolina voters, and brochures distributed to over fifty counties through grassroots NAACP branch leadership, the public education campaign is already resonating with everyday North Carolinians.
"The polls and the politicians are asking the wrong questions on this discriminatory amendment, hatched in the backrooms of the extremist, rightwing think-tanks," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. "Our message is consistent: 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 or vote discrimination into the very heart and framework of our Constitution."
Dr. Barber continued, "The real insult to the Civil Rights Movement is that the same regressive, ultra-conservative Tea Party type folks suing to overturn the 1965 Voting Rights Act, re-segregating and robbing our public schools of valuable resources, blocking workers' rights to organize, trying to force us all to get photo ID's to exercise our right to vote and cut back on the time and opportunities to vote, and attempting to repeal the Racial Justice Act, now somehow think the sons and daughters of the Civil Rights Movement cannot see through their Trojan Horse trick."
Secret documents from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), recently unsealed by the courts, revealed the real strategy behind this amendment. Their 2009 report reads:'The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks -- two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of his party. Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the costs of pushing gay marriage to its advocates ... find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally.'"Dr. Barber said, "On the grassroots level we get a very different response when we cut through the Trojan Horse trick of the Tea Party backed forces and ask 'Do you think we should tamper with the protections of the 14th Amendment and the Equal Protection Under the Law clause, or Section One of the North Carolina Constitution?' When we ask 'Do you believe, especially in the South, we should create a precedent whereby the majority votes on the rights of a minority?' the sinister divide and conquer rhetoric is torn asunder. When people find out that groups leading the pro-Amendment efforts, like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, are affiliated with national organizations identified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, they are horrified by the deceitful Amendment One. When people find out that the amendment could also negatively impact heterosexual couples, take away domestic violence protections for women, strip legal recognition and protection from unmarried couples and leave families and children with no basic access to healthcare and prescription drug coverage, people overwhelmingly see through the distractions and tricks and say, 'We won't be fooled. Not on our watch!'"
The NAACP's position on any constitutional amendment that limits rights has been consistent for over 20 years, when other campaigns of this kind were proposed. For 103 years the NAACP's mission has always been to "ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons." The NC NAACP has always opposed any custom, tradition, practice, law or constitutional amendment that denies any rights, privileges, or opportunities to any person which can legally be extended to others.
The radio spots, already running across the state, will be available at www.naacpnc.org later this afternoon.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.
Tom Jensen at Public Policy Polling reporting on the sinking polling for Amendment One made this comment: "A big part of that is a shift among black voters. They still support it by a 51/39 margin, but that's well down from 61/30 on our a poll a month ago."
If this amendment is defeated, we'll owe a debt of gratitude to Rev. Barber's leadership. And he can call me on that. We gays are loyal friends and will watch your back for decades. Ask Cher or Madonna.
What you can do to help defeat Amendment One:
- Sign up for a Courageous Conversation about Amendment One with someone you know in North Carolina.
- Follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.
- Download social media tools and yard signs to show your opposition to Amendment One.
- Volunteer to Call for Equality—a national, virtual GOTV phone banking effort against Amendment One.