Here’s the note, from an activist working to defeat North Carolina’s proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage in the state as between one man and one woman. Asheville City Council plans to consider a resolution official opposing Amendment One, as it is known:
A Message to Asheville on the Eve of a Resolution.
“Why did you fight so hard when you knew you could not win?”
This was the first question I was asked when I walked offstage from an anti-amendment rally on that fateful September day when Amendment One went from bill to ballot referendum—a day our side fell one vote short of defeating in our state’s General Assembly a constitutional rewrite that would threaten protections for all unmarried couples in the state, straight and gay.
At that point I had been awake three, straight days formulating public comments that were not ultimately allowed, spreading facts and figures that were largely ignored, and preparing our state for a history-making legislative victory I would never see.
At that moment, it was the last question I expected or wanted to hear.
I think about that inquiry a lot when talking to folks—mostly in large, progressive hubs all across the state—who have been wronged or hurt one too many times, sought refuge in safer places, and who therefore feel there’s no reason to vote on May 8. The odds are against us. We live in the south. Or the west. Or the east. We’re just not there yet. It’s only a matter of time.
To that last point I say this: yes, it is only a matter of time before one state defeats one of these terrible measures. And I don’t think I’m jaded, or naïve, or too personally invested to think that time is now. I saw it in every mile during our recent RACE TO THE BALLOT to educate voters about the harms of Amendment One, when we began our journey—and rightly so—in Asheville and ran all across this still-great state, mostly to tiny towns where hope of victory vanquished fear of defeat every, single, time. Because it just had to. Because in that moveable middle you still have to fight everyday to “just be” and “let be” in the place you call home. And so now they fight for us.
I’m proud of Asheville every day for the work that happens here to turn the tide of discrimination in the region and beyond. You are, above all else, a Mecca for like-minds willing to come together for causes greater than oneself. I would give anything to pick up and move to a big place so wrapped in beauty, inside and out.
But tomorrow, when your great city votes on a resolution opposing Amendment One, I need for you to be a little town again. A tiny town like Bakersville, or Cullowhee, Shelby or Hickory, and many of the western stops on the RACE tour that reminded us that while there is hard work to be done, not an ounce of complacency nor apathy can get in the way of it.
Because every progressive in those places will be voting on May 8.
I ask that you join them.
Be small again not because the arc of history won’t eventually bend towards justice; not because a change ain’t gon come; and certainly not because Asheville won’t be otherwise leading the way in our continuing fight to keep our state on the right side of history, even as we paint our uncertain future.
But rather because there are older couples out there who can ill-afford to wait years for medical decision-making power; there are single parents throughout North Carolina who don’t want to lose their children as we decide what kind of state we’re going to be; and there are children who can’t wait for new ways to get life-saving health care in the process of a decade-long repeal of something we could have prevented now.
Because only a grassroots effort, that started as a hum, and is now a momentum-building chorus, can stop what a legislature could not. And what better place to sing that song but here?
It is Asheville that must not simply pass a resolution opposing Amendment One, as is, and should be, expected of any city that stands to be stripped of its domestic partner benefits by this constitutional amendment; it is Asheville that must lead the state with 100% voter participation on the May 8th primary (if not with a wave of early voting before) to defeat Amendment One.
Not because victory is assured.
But because victory never was nor will be without you, Asheville.
In short, Ashevillians, we need your one vote to win by one vote.
And that will be enough for me, and the families we pledged to protect.
Please, #voteagainst #May8
Communications Director, Equality NC, Protect All NC Families
Non-runner, Race to the Ballot