Equality NC visits Boone to mobilize LGBT supporters
by Anna Oakes
A town hall meeting was held at Boone Unitarian Universalist Fellowship as part of Equality NC's “What's Next?” tour.
Held from June 4 to June 28, the tour made stops in Boone, Raleigh, Siler City, Kitty Hawk, Durham, Wilmington, Asheville, Morehead City, Greensboro, Rocky Mount, Sandhills, Winston-Salem, Hickory, Bakersville and Charlotte.
Equality NC is a North Carolina organization dedicated to securing equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Jen Jones, communications director for Equality NC, visited Boone in February as part of a tour and public awareness campaign urging the defeat of the amendment.
Jones said she returned to Watauga County because it was one of only eight counties to defeat the constitutional amendment, making the county important for the movement going forward.
“We ran through your town; you were amazing then and now we're back,” she said.
Jones outlined three goals for Equality NC and its partners in the near future.
First, the organization will work to defeat each of the legislators who voted to place the amendment on the May 8 primary ballot, she said. Equality NC is currently issuing a survey to candidates asking about their support for a repeal of the amendment and other issues.
“We're going to try to knock out every person who put Amendment 1 on the ballot,” said Jones.
Second, the organization will work for passage of legislation prohibiting workplace discrimination against LGBT employees. Jones said the organization encountered many people who were afraid to speak out prior to the amendment.
Third, Equality NC supports the lawsuit filed June 13 by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation on behalf of six same-sex couples and their children seeking the right to obtain second parent adoptions for their children.
A second parent adoption occurs when one partner in an unmarried couple adopts the other partner's biological or adoptive child. This can occur in both gay and straight relationships. In December 2010, the North Carolina Supreme Court banned second parent adoptions for same-sex couples, a release from ACLU-NC stated.
Chris Brook, legal director for ACLU-NC, said polling and focus groups found 80 percent support for second parent adoption rights.
Brook also said ACLU-NC believes domestic partner benefits afforded to same-sex couples would not be affected by the amendment's passage. He pointed to the city of Charlotte, which on Tuesday became the 10th city in North Carolina to offer domestic partner benefits for same-sex partners of city employees.