Bicentennial Mall is the space between the Capitol and the General Assembly building, flanked by the state Museum of History and the state Museum of Natural Sciences. In other words, it's a good place to visit on any given Saturday.
Tomorrow, from 11-3, it will be especially good as (at last count) 19 progressive organizations set up shop — tables — to let the public know what they're doing to make North Carolina a better place to live.
The ON TRAC N.C. Community Engagement Fair has a Facebook page, of course.
The Raleigh Action Collective (TRAC) is among the organizers, along with the core group of folks who kept Occupy Raleigh going all those many winter months. Consider this Occupy Raleigh 2.0.
This probably won't appeal to you if you're part of the 1% — or want to be — or you think Mitt Romney is a helluva candidate. (Does anybody really think that?) For the rest of us, there are a variety of rooting interests to get with.
Also important: Stacie Borrello, one of the Occupy Raleigh organizers, will speak on behalf of a coalition of progressive groups Tuesday night at the Raleigh City Council meeting. She'd like your support if you can make it. (7 pm at City Hall.)
She's asking the Raleigh Council to get behind efforts to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which allows multinational corporations and rich individuals to spend unlimited sums of money — anonymously, if they want — to influence election campaigns.
This cause, too, has a Facebook page. It contains the resolution the group would like the Raleigh City Council to adopt:
RESOLUTION OF THE RALEIGH CITY COUNCIL TO SUPPORT ACTION TO OVERTURN THE “CITIZENS UNITED” SUPREME COURT DECISION, AND TO RESTORE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND FAIR ELECTIONS TO THE PEOPLE.
(1) Whereas, transparent and fair elections are essential to democracy and effective self-governance;
(2) Whereas, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. FEC broke with long-settled legal precedents that acknowledged the power of citizens through their elected representatives to limit the influence of private interests in elections;
(3) Whereas, polls show that 79 percent of American voters support repeal of Citizens United, along with 66 percent of the nation’s small business owners;
(4) Whereas, so far in the current election cycle, spending by super PACs, corporations, unions and others exceeds $90 million, more than double the amount spent in any previous election;
(5) Whereas, unregulated and excessive expenditures by any organization allows the election process to be corrupted, encouraging elected officials to vote against their constituents in order to compete for financial campaign support; and
(6) Whereas, it is anti-democratic to allow private interests to outweigh the rights of ordinary citizens by using concentrated wealth to disproportionately influence candidate selection, election outcomes, elected officials’ votes, and, ultimately, public policy decisions.
Therefore, be it resolved, that the City Council of Raleigh, NC encourages federal and state legislative action to defend democracy by calling for a stop to anonymous, unlimited political donations and supporting a Constitutional amendment establishing that:
Only human beings are endowed with constitutional rights, not corporations or any other type of organization, and
Since the Constitution is meant to protect the rights of all individuals equally regardless of wealth, regulating excessive and/or anonymous spending in political campaigns is not equivalent to limiting political speech, and is necessary to preserve equitable and transparent democracy.
This Resolution is supported by The Raleigh Action Collective and Coalition Organizations OnTRACNC@gmail.com
Interesting story in the Charlotte Observer about the Queen City's new budget. Check it out: Money for infrastructure investments in underdeveloped parts of Charlotte. (Is there a Southeast Raleigh analogue?) And a plan to offer insurance benefits to same-sex partners of city employees. (Raleigh, so far, has ducked this one.)
Thus, in Charlotte:
The city would spend $119 million to continue building a streetcar line through uptown. The first 1.5 miles is expected to open mid-decade. This project would extend both ends of that starter line past Presbyterian Hospital and to Johnson C. Smith University.
How about a streetcar line out New Bern Avenue, serving St. Aug's and WakeMed?
Also, in Charlotte:
And for the first time, the city has proposed offering health benefits to same-sex partners. City Attorney Bob Hagemann said the city was exploring whether that would be legal after N.C. voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday defining marriage between a man and a woman as the only civil union recognized in the state.
Regardless of Amendment 1, it's my understanding that public employers can continue to offer benefits to same-sex partners by simply making such benefits available to all unmarried employees and any other person they designate. That designated person would pay for the benefits, by the way, so there would be no additional expense to the city by offering them.
This is my understanding of what Amendment 1 allows, I should add, because House Majority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, the author of Amendment 1, said that's how it could be done while he was campaigning for passage.
This little film by Mimi Schiffman is a gem. It's about Isak. 12, and his "big happy family." A sister, a dog and two moms. It's also, of course, about Amendment 1. "Love is just when you know you want to be with someone, and a world where everything's right," Isak says.
One of the moms, Tanja Atkins, was our general manager at the Indy for years and is much-missed. I loved this piece a little more when I first saw it on Huffington Post for knowing Tanja and Connie and who they are. But see if you don't love it too.
Great work by Schiffman and, with a credit for art direction, Isak Atkins-Pearcy.
[Update, Thursday, 2:30 p.m. Running around today, I missed the march but caught some of the preparations at the Bell Tower and the end of the rally at Halifax Mall. Not thousands, but several hundred marched and/or came to the Mall for the speeches. "We cheered extra loud as we went by the Civitas building," Lee Sartain told me. Sartain is running in the Democratic primary for a newly created seat — District 38, there's no incumbent — in the N.C. House of Representatives.
[I've posted some pictures:
What follows is the original post from Tuesday, 3/13:
The ides of Love march organizers predict that thousands will gather in Raleigh on the Ides of March to take a stand against the proposed anti-gay Amendment One. The ides, as we know from our Julius Caesar, fall on March 15. Start point for the march is the Bell Tower at NC State, at 11 a.m. The route is down Hillsborough Street to the Capitol, then over to Halifax Mall, behind the General Assembly building on West Jones Street, where a rally is planned starting at 12 noon.
HonestNC is the event's home office. "Thirty other states have added discrimination to their constitutions," says HonestNC's David Hook. "Show the world that it stops here."
Below, I've posted a short video starring Hook. The image above is taken from the video, fyi.
Here's the latest from the organizers about the march:
HonestNC, a group of community organizers from N.C. State, will march from the Bell Tower to the State Legislature on Thursday, March 15th at 11 AM to protest the proposed amendment to limit marriage in North Carolina. With expected attendance of several thousand, the city of Raleigh will close down Hillsborough and Morgan Streets to allow the group safe passage to express their view that adding discrimination to the state's founding documents hits right at the heart of our idea of civil unity, and threatens the core legitimacy of our social mores.
The group will gather for a rally at Halifax Mall to show our representatives in the state legislature that citizens of the populace will not stand idly by while civil rights are cut off from a portion of our group. The Grains of Time, an a cappella ensemble from N.C. State will be performing the national anthem and several speakers will take the podium to speak against exclusion and discrimination. As younger members of the community, HonestNC strive to show state voters that we will not engage in generational withholding of civil rights, and that the legislature should provide better leadership in public policy. As citizens, this amendment will not pass.
And the video:
The Coalition to Protect N.C. Families is out with a statement about the new Elon University Poll, which shows a majority of voters in North Carolina opposed to Amendment One, the anti-LGBT amendment to the state constitution on the May 8 primary ballot.
Amendment One would prohibit the state from recognizing gay marriages, civil unions or any other domestic partnership arrangements, whether between gay or straight couples. Only a one-man, one-woman marriage would count.
Oddly, the Elon Poll results are roughly the opposite of the poll taken less than two weeks ago for the J.W. Pope Citivas Institute, the Art Pope-funded conservative organization. Civitas hired a New Jersey polling firm that reported strong support for Amendment One.
The Elon Poll is nonpartisan and unaffiliated with any political group.
(One update/observation: Look at the way Elon asked the question. First, they ask about attitudes toward same-sex marriage and civil unions. Then they ask about the amendment. It's a unbiased question, but it's preceded by a question that causes people to stop and think. If you just ask, as the Civitas poll did, whether people support an amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, a majority seem reflexively to say yes.)
From the Coalition:
NEW POLL SHOWS INCREASING OPPOSITION TO AMENDMENT ONE
Majority of North Carolinians Oppose Constitutional Amendment on May
8, 2012 Ballot
Elon, N.C. — A new Elon University Poll released today shows that a
majority of North Carolinians oppose Amendment One, a constitutional
amendment on the May 8, 2012, North Carolina primary ballot that bans
relationship recognitions and threatens protections for the state’s
The nonpartisan poll revealed that 54.2% of North Carolinians surveyed
either oppose or strongly oppose “an amendment to the constitution
that would ban same-sex marriage.” Only 37.8% polled were in any way
supportive of Amendment One. The poll also illustrates a dramatic
increase in the category of “strong opposition” to this type of
amendment from only one year ago, with 34% now voicing strong
opposition versus 21.8% in February 2011.
Overall opposition to Amendment One increased even further when North
Carolinians polled were asked whether they opposed an amendment to the
North Carolina constitution “that would prevent civil unions and
domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.” Nearly 57% of North
Carolinians (56.9%) polled opposed or strongly opposed an amendment on
“The Elon University poll is a clear sign that North Carolina is
AGAINST Amendment One,” said Jeremy Kennedy, campaign manager for
Protect All NC Families, the coalition effort to defeat Amendment One.
“The more people learn about this poorly-written amendment and its
unintended consequences, the more they realize it will harm our
children, their families, unmarried women, and seniors.”
The Elon poll did not inquire about Amendment One support or
opposition based on unintended harms to all unmarried couples in North
Carolina, including a permanent ban on domestic partner benefits for
public employees, as well as how it could negatively affect
enforcement of domestic violence laws, child custody agreements and
end-of-life directives. A recent state panel tasked with explaining
Amendment One to voters found that there is significant debate among
legal experts about how the amendment might impact various legal
protections for public and private employee benefits as well as other
harms. The panel ultimately concluded that the state’s court system
would need to determine Amendment One’s lasting consequences.
“While the Elon Poll does not touch on the vast array of known and
potential harms of this type of overreaching legislation—harms that
were a reality in other states—it does mirror the momentum we’ve seen
in our work on the ground throughout the state,” said Kennedy. The
more North Carolinians know about Amendment One, the more support for
If it's Thursday, it must be time (6-9 p.m.) for the anti-Amendment One phone bank at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh. Bring your cell phone and, if you have one, your laptop.
From Tracy Hollister, whom you may remember from this story:
Phone Bank at UUFR for Coalition to Protect NC Families
Thu., March 8, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Use your cell phone to simply identify how voters will vote on Amendment One and recruit more volunteers. Hosted by UUFR's Task Force to Protect All NC Families and local chapters of PFLAG and HRC as well as the Triangle Freethought Society. A few people can also help by doing data entry on their laptops. Be sure to RSVP on the web site listed below.
@ Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, 3313 Wade Avenue
Here's a Facebook link.
Starting March 26, phone banks will be held at the UUFR on Mondays and Thursdays. And on April 24, as the May 8 primary election date comes close, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. So don't say you didn't have time(s).
And this Saturday night, February 18, there's a benefit concert at the same UUFR location, organized by our friend Beth Padgett. It starts at 8, but suggest you get there early. The recommended donation is $7, but c'mon ...
Here's a bit about it from the UUFR website:
Join us from 8 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, February 18 in UUFR’s Sanctuary for what is guaranteed to be two hours of good music with friends in the cause for equality and dignity. Donations go to the Coalition to Protect NC Families, a group of organizations working to protect NC’s unmarried couples and their families from the many harms of Amendment One.
UUFR's own Interim Minister Don Rollins will open and act as the MC for other musicians, who include Someone’s Sister, the Triangle Gay Men’s Chorus, Rhythmicity, and more, as well as speakers Rev. Jimmy Creech and organizers from Race to the Ballot, the Coalition to Protect NC Families and UUFR’s Task Force to Protect All NC Families.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision applies only in California, according to its terms. But by striking down California's Proposition 8, the voter-approved anti-gay marriage initiative, the court put the issue of gay marriage bans squarely before the U.S. Supreme Court.
North Carolina has an anti-gay marriage statute, and we'll vote in May on an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriages and also civil unions between same-sex partners.
However, a state — even in its constitution — can't discriminate against citizens in a way the U.S. Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment to the federal constitution. That's what the Civil War was all about: States can't violate fundamental rights.
Some day, we'll think about these gay marriage bans the same way we think about the Dred Scott decision.
Talking Points Memo posted a handy map of states and their status re: gay marriage, civil unions & equal rights.