Civil Liberties

Perhaps because of the large number of outspoken and thoughtful people in our community, we have often found ourselves at ground zero in battles over civil liberties. In the 1980's Chapel Hill elected the first openly-gay elected official in the state, but Carrboro bested that by electing North Carolina’s first out mayor a decade later.

More recently, Chapel Hill grappled with free speech issues in the wake of 9/11, approved and then dismantled red light cameras in 2003-4, and was challenged by fundamentalists over support for gay marriage in 2005.

Chapel Hill stands up for gay rights

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday, March 12, 2005

If you were in the Town Council chambers last Monday night, you probably felt as Bill Strom did. "I am constantly moved and blown away by Chapel Hill citizens who stand before us and share their life experiences," he said. He referred to the dozens of citizens who came out that night to speak on behalf of the rights of gays and lesbians in the face of not only denial but further restriction of those rights under a right-wing assault.

The council's proposed legislative agenda has three items that speak to the rights of same-sex couples. It asks our state legislators to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, to oppose the proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman and to include sexual orientation as a protected category under the hate crimes law.

A handful of local fundamentalists brought in a busload of their con-freres from Wake County to preach intolerance to the Town Council. They soon learned they'd come to the wrong place. Their position received not a word of support from Chapel Hillians outside their small group.

Live from Town Hall - gay rights edition

Tonight the Chapel Hill Town Council's regular meeting will include the Town's legislative agenda, which contains support for gay marriage, and protecting GLBT people from hate crimes. "Christian" activists will be coming in from out of town to speak against this agenda.

The Wilson Assemblage is also on tonight's agenda, stick around to see if the Council buys the developer's giant drive-through proposal.

Anyone who is at Town Hall, watching the meeting on TV, or would like to be here is welcome to post their comments here.

I'll Kiss Ed Harrison

at Monday night's Town Council meeting if that's what it takes to demonstrate Chapel Hill's commitment to gay and lesbian rights.

My intro is glib but the issue is serious, especially in the aftermath of the recent attack on a gay UNC student. The Herald reports today that "A Christian activist group plans to bring 200 to 500 people to Monday night's Town Council meeting to protest the council's stance on same-sex marriage." Groups like this live off and in turn breed the intolerance that leads to hate crimes.

As I discussed in my Chapel Hill Herald column of 4/3/2004, there are over 1000 automatic federal protections, benefits, and responsibilities that come with a marriage license, many more at the state level. All Americans, and all North Carolinians, should have an equal right to these privileges and responsibilities.

Here is Equality NC's action alert:

Stand up and be counted Wednesday 3/2

Here's an important message:


Please join us – Democracy North Carolina, NC Fair Share, Raleigh NOW, Planned Parenthood, & NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina – in standing up for voter's rights!

On Wednesday, March 2nd the Wake County Superior Court will decide the fate of more than 11,000 provisional ballots cast by North Carolinians on Election Day. In the still-undecided election for Superintendent of Public Instruction, the court is considering throwing out 11,310 provisional ballots, despite a provisional ballot law passed in NC two years ago to protect against this kind of voter disenfranchisement. More than 11,000 North Carolinians could lose their voice in matters that directly affect them as tax-paying citizens in North Carolina – representation in our state government! We must act now!

Show your support by participating in any or all of the following activities on March 2nd:

Gay Rights - Triumph and Trial

This from the Common Sense Foundation:

On Wednesday at noon, history was made in North Carolina. The General Assembly began its 2005-06 session with an out lesbian as one of its elected members for the first time.

Julia Boseman defeated a Republican incumbent in a conservative Wilmington district to earn her seat in the state Senate. She survived slurs against her sexual orientation during the campaign to win the seat.

Yet while the whole state has reason to celebrate the diversity and equality symbolized by Boseman's election, not all is well for the GLBT community in North Carolina.

Just minutes after Boseman and the rest of the legislature were sworn in, a new constitutional amendment was filed to attack gay marriage and even gay relationships.

The events of this week show both profound encouragement in the struggle for GLBT equality, as well as how many difficulties that struggle still faces.

People in our community should celebrate Boseman's victory as an outgrowth of landmark events in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, the election of Joe Herzenberg to the Town Council and of Mike Nelson as Mayor.



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