Why the Democratic National Convention Needs to Stay in North Carolina‏

by Jessica Luther, aka scATX, a liberal, a feminist, a wife, a mother, a professional historian, and an optimist.

Last night, there was sad news out of North Carolina. From Pam's House Blend:
I'm sitting here thinking about all of the blood, sweat and tears poured into this battle to defeat Amendment One here in NC. It looks like is NC had the highest turnout for a primary here in a quarter century — 34.37 % (2,164,074 ballots cast out of 6,296,759 voters). Only 18% were expected to vote.

But the forces of bigotry won this round.
The bigotry she is referring to is an amendment to the state's constitution that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and bans same-sex marriage and civil unions, an amendment which, according to Kristin Rawls, does collateral damage in addition to the harm targeted at same-sex couples:
In fact, its scope is extremely broad and could have many devastating consequences. Two of the most likely are also the most troubling. First, the Amendment could prevent employers from providing health insurance benefits to the children of unmarried parents. According to the Coalition to Protect All NC Families, that's the children of nearly 90,000 couples, the sum total of all unmarried couples with children in the State. There is simply no religious justification for harming children.

Not only this, but the Amendment could also invalidate existing domestic violence protections for all unmarried women in the state. It would almost certainly weaken the State's already minimal domestic violence statutes. When it comes to domestic violence, Ohio's similar amendment to ban gay marriage is very instructive. When Ohio's amendment became law, 27 domestic violence convictions were overturned or dismissed.
In response to this amendment passing, the liberals began making poor choices. From Think Progress: "14K SIGN PETITION URGING DEMOCRATS TO MOVE CONVENTION OUT OF NORTH CAROLINA". The reason for this petition:
On May 8th, the people of North Carolina voted in support of Amendment One, a constitutional amendment that discriminates against LGBT people, couples & their families. In protest, the Democratic National Convention Committee should MOVE its convention (September 2012) to a state that upholds values of equality & liberty, and which treats ALL citizens equally.
Good luck. The 32 states that have put gay marriage on ballots since 1998 have all had voters vote against gay marriage (or, rather, often in favor of hetero marriage). Looking at these amazing Guardian graphics (h/t to Jon Hanna), the DNC could basically only be held somewhere in the northeast (other than Pennsylvania, Maine, and Delaware—and take Rhode Island and New Jersey off the list unless civil unions are treating "all citizens equally"). Really, other than the northeast, we only have Iowa and Washington. And maybe most liberals are cool with limiting their support to the 9 states with the right to marriage equality secured under law. I'm not.

Beyond that, moving the convention out of North Carolina is cowardly and passive and ineffectual. How does boycotting do anything but show the GOP and North Carolina voters (many of whom did show up to vote against amendment 1) that liberals don't actually care about them? [Note: As Dub Pool pointed out to me, "Worth noting: There were votes against Amendment 1 in every single NC county."]

Boycotting, in these moments, is tantamount to us turning our backs and closing our eyes. And let's be honest: there are only certain states most of us would put on the "IMMEDIATELY BOYCOTT" list over voting outcomes that we don't like.

Instead of running, better to put pressure on the DNC to go to North Carolina and go out into the LBGQT community, meet activists, give them a space to talk and have a conversation with them. Better to use the national media attention of the convention to give North Carolina couples, both gay and straight, a platform to share their personal stories. Better to show up to North Carolina and say, "Fuck Amendment 1. This ain't over. We are the moral majority and we aren't going anywhere. We will not give up." [Of course, one wishes that the DNC or the Obama administration cared enough to say something before the vote actually happened, this post being written in the shadow of Obama's historic announcement that he, the sitting president of the United States of America supports marriage equality...the day after the NC vote.]

I, personally, am sick of this passive "oh, well, we sorta tried" bullshit from the left. No. You know who tried? Liberals living in North Carolina. We non-North Carolina liberals show up for a week, a day, and then declare North Carolina a lost cause and call for a boycott of the state? NO. The assholes of the GOP make me livid. But nothing frustrates me more than the fickleness of liberals. And I say this as a proud progressive. Who lives in Texas.

As Liss tweeted at me, "The thing about state boycotts is people will be boycotting gay-owned businesses, too. Great—withhold $ from folks denied benefits." This isn't a practical idea that will actually affect change. So what is the point?

When the going gets tough, we just have to get tougher.

Dan Solomon pointed out to me today: "It seems much easier to get a lot of people on the same page to say ‘no' to everything than ‘yes' to different things." The GOP doesn't have to do anything and they win. When we pull out of North Carolina, hanging our heads in defeat, they win. They win by default. As Mark Sample wrote, "Don't you know the people who voted for Amendment 1 would LOVE to have Democrats pull out of the state."

Most importantly, as Samson, a North Carolinian wrote, if the DNC pulls out and liberals as a group shun North Carolina, "We still live here." And North Carolinians still matter. People who live in red states still matter (North Carolina only counts as a sometimes red state as it is).

Final thought: now that the president has said "I think same sex couples should be able to get married," get that man on a plane and get him to North Carolina and get some cameras on him. Show North Carolinians, members of the LGBTQI community, Democrats, the nation, and the whole fucking world (not mutually exclusive groups) that we aren't going anywhere. That despite this loss, liberals will continue to fight even in places where the fight is hard. ESPECIALLY when the fight is hard.

To North Carolina we go!

If you want to contact the DNC and let them know you like the idea of the convention staying in North Carolina (I stole this info from the anti-NC convention petition):

Democratic National Convention Committee
400 S. Tryon Street
Suite 1300
Charlotte, NC 28285
(704) 373-2012


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