by Bob Geary
Fayetteville Street in Raleigh Saturday was out in force — OutRaleigh drew an estimated 10,000 folks, all of whom, it seemed, were loving the idea that Amendment 1 might be defeated on Tuesday, putting North Carolina in the forefront of what is undeniably a movement toward equal rights for the LGBT community. (See: Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday.)
OutRaleigh, a project of the LGBT Center of Raleigh, is great evidence of the movement, come to think of it. It hasn't been so many years since a celebration of gay rights on Fayetteville Street in the conservative Cap City would've been unthinkable ... and then controversial ... and now it's fun, and those who don't think so are mostly keeping it to themselves.
Unfortunately, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and the Triangle are not representative of the North Carolina electorate, apparently. Public Policy Polling is out with a final survey today, and it shows Amendment 1 passing rather easily. This is from PPP's Tom Jensen:
Our final marriage amendment poll finds it leading by a 55-39 margin, little change from a week ago when it was ahead 55-41. The final yes percentage will likely be somewhere in the 57-59% range depending on how the undecideds break. Opponents of the amendment had an uphill battle in convincing voters that it was anything other than a referendum on gay marriage, even though it does go a lot further than that. 57% of voters in the state think gay marriage should be illegal (to only 34% who think it should be legal) and it's not a coincidence that number correlates so closely with the 55% planning to support the amendment.
In some sense North Carolinians are voting against their own beliefs. 53% of voters in the state support either gay marriage or civil unions, yet a majority also support the amendment that would ban both. The reason for that disconnect is even with just 24 hours until election day only 46% of voters realize the proposal bans both gay marriage and civil unions. Those informed voters oppose the amendment by a 61-37 margin but there may not be enough time left to get the rest of the electorate up to speed.
On a conference call last night, the campaign manager for the anti-Amendment 1 Coalition to Protect All NC Families continued to express hope that PPP and the other polls showing a wide margin in favor of the amendment will be wrong. "I think we really have a chance for an upset Tuesday night, quite frankly," Jeremy Kennedy said.
That hope hinges on turnout — the idea that large numbers of "unlikely voters" will be drawn to the polls by their desire to vote Amendment 1 down. Pollsters must make some assumptions about who's likely to vote in a primary election, and generally they look for people who've voted in recent primaries. And generally that's a good polling method, producing numbers that are good predictors of the actual result. But if enough people show up to vote in this primary who've never voted in a primary before, it could change the results.
The coalition also released what it called its closing argument, a video mashup of statements against Amendment 1 by, among others, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, Gov. Bev Perdue, former Charlotte Mayors Harvey Gantt and Richard Vinroot, NAACP President Ben Jealous and NC President the Rev. William Barber, Chelsea Clinton, Clay Aiken and some non-celebritie as well. It's a reminder that, win or lose, the campaign has broken new ground in North Carolina, giving political shape to what was previously an almost inchoate hope for change on the LGBT front.
There's nothing inchoate about it now. The coalition has raised more than $2.5 million from 11,000 donors, most of them in the state, Kennedy said. "Win or lose," he added, the movement will go on for justice for all minority and disadvantaged people in the state, with the NAACP and the LGBT leadership in coalition from now on.
Early voting is over. If you're registered to vote, the polls are open tomorrow, Tuesday, from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Remember that you can vote in one of the three party primaries (Dem, Repub, Libertarian) or simply ask for a ballot that has Amendment 1 on it by itself — without party candidates.