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Topics In the News
Protect All North Carolina Families Ad Campaign Emphasizes Generalized Harm
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 04/17/12
Last updated on: 05/03/12
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Governor Bev Perdue speaks out against Amendment One.

Protect All North Carolina Families, the group spearheading the attempt to defeat North Carolina's ugly Amendment One, which would write discrimination into the state's constitution by banning same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships, is attempting to defeat the initiative by describing the harm the amendment does to all North Carolina families. Rather than focusing on the impact Amendment One will have on glbtq families, it stresses the harm it will cause all unmarried families and the state generally.

In his Live from Hell's Kitchen blog, David Mixner lauds the organization's approach, seeing it as a major departure from approaches used in other states, particularly ads that focus on the wholesomeness of gay people and their relatives, that in effect attempt to convince voters that gay people merit their approval. Mixner contends that "Many voters, if they feel that it is a vote about approval, will not vote for the rights of the LGBT community. The key is have those who might not fully approve of the LGBT community find a way to overcome their discomfort and give them a 'hook' to vote for full equality."

"A political campaign," Mixner writes, "is not about convincing people we are just like them or that a family loves their LGBT children. A campaign is about finding every single vote possible and making it easy for even those who disagree with our sexuality to vote the right way."

This approach has yielded a number of ads in which glbtq people are barely mentioned. The emphasis in these ads is on the mischief Amendment One may cause other people, particularly unmarried (heterosexual) parents, women, and business owners.

One of Protect All North Carolina Families' signature ads is the video below in which "The Facts About Amendment One" are spelled out. The impetus for this ad is the belief that the more voters know about the Amendment the less likely they are to support it.

In a video made by Governor Bev Perdue, she similarly stresses the damages that Amendment One will do to North Carolinians generally rather than to the glbtq families that its sponsors have targeted.

A video featuring former Charlotte Mayors Harvey Gantt and Richard Vinroot also points out the generalized harm that the amendment may cause North Carolinians.

More videos may be seen here.

Polls in the state concerning Amendment One have yielded perplexing results. Some have shown almost 60% of the voters in favor of the amendment, even though other polls have shown that almost 60% of the residents of the state are in favor of either marriage equality or civil unions for same-sex couples, which the amendment bans.

Protect All North Carolina Families believes that the amendment can be defeated if North Carolinians can be made to understand exactly what the amendment will do. To do so, the group must have resources to air their videos throughout the state. And to do that, it needs resources.

Straight allies Todd and Diana Stiefel have recently announced that they will match donations to Protect All North Carolina Families up to $100,000. Donations may be made here.

Early voting begins on April 19, with election day on May 8.

The results will tell us not only whether North Carolinians have decided to write discrimination into their constitution, but also whether Protect All North Carolina Families' strategy is one that should be emulated elsewhere.

However, it is unclear how the referenda that are focused exclusively on banning or repealing marriage equality, as in Minnesota, Maryland, and Washington, can be opposed without talking about glbtq families. In Maine, where the question will be whether marriage equality should be adopted by referendum, it would seem that gay and lesbian couples must necessarily be at the forefront. Still, ads stressing the harm to a state's business climate when people are not afforded equal rights may be effective even there.

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