Election results Tuesday in North Carolina were disappointing for LGBT residents there and across the U.S., as voters overwhelmingly supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Sixty-one percent of voters came out in favor of Amendment One, while 39 percent opposed the ban.
While there was a strong campaign leading up to Election Day urging voters not to support the amendment — a campaign that even included former President Bill Clinton — what’s interesting in the aftermath is the resounding call to re-educate voters.
Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, told MSNBC reporter Thomas Roberts that the defeat will “propel” a discussion of who gay families are in North Carolina. Furthermore, he expects there will be a “bump in support for freedom to marry” as a result of conversations that will begin today.
The biggest bump in support came today from President Obama, who publicly said in an ABC News interview that he supports same-sex marriage. During his “evolving” on the issue Obama said he realized that the steps his administration had taken to ensure “broader equality” for LGBT citizens and existing civil unions were not sufficient. It’s the realization so many of us have waited a long time to hear, but it didn’t come until after gay rights activists called him out following the disappointing vote in North Carolina.
This let’s-wait-and-see-what-happens approach is very similiar to what happened in California.
After voters approved Proposition 8, this state’s ban on same-sex marriage, in 2008, gay rights activists and strategists rallied troops to go into neighborhoods and organizations that supported the ban to talk about who gay families are and show them in matters of love and commitment that LGBT folks are more like the gay-marriage foes than not.
It’s great and necessary to have these discussions, and to live out and proud every day. However, it’s unfortunate it takes a major defeat at the polls to prompt it. For all of the great campaigning that took place in North Carolina, it would seem same-sex marriage supporters didn’t learn any of California’s difficult lessons.
Or perhaps they did.
Maybe they learned that a grass-roots re-education approach is the best way to rebound from a major loss and help the undecided and nonbelievers evolve. As George Zander of Equality California in Palm Springs said earlier this week, “Most of the country is evolving, so evolving is a good thing.”
It also seems to work. Recent polls show a majority of Californians now support same-sex marriage. And now, the most powerful man in the world says he supports it too.