Equality NC kicked off its efforts to defeat Amendment One — which would ban legal recognition of same-sex relationships — with staffer Jen Jones running through downtown as part of the statewide Race to the Ballot campaign. The newly opened Asheville office will be the organization’s headquarters for organizing in the Western part of the state.
Jones is running to Wilmington — a total of 322 miles — with events in each place she stops.
“I’m not a runner,” Jones tells Xpress. “But I really wanted to do something, since so many people are doing the impossible to try to beat this amendment. For me, running 322 miles is next to impossible. People are saying it can’t be done — like defeating the amendment — and we’re here to show them it can be, together.”
As Jones continues her run over the next five weeks, Equality NC organizers say they will hold “2,000 miles of events” throughout the state.
“We’re going to every corner of the state in the next few weeks,” she says.
In WNC, Equality NC is focusing its efforts on Buncombe, Watauga and Jackson counties. Part of the kick-off was the opening of the organization’s Asheville office, located at 29 N. Market St.
“Students are really mobilized to vote against on May 8,” Jones notes. “They also have an alcohol referendum — it’s a dry county — and we think there’s going to be stellar voter turnout during the May primary. We know eight out of 10 students are with us, so we’re getting them mobilized.”
“Same thing with Watauga and Asheville,” Jones continues. “Active students, progressive community, people committed in the faith and business fields to vote against, so we want to get them to come out on May 8. Asheville’s going to be a big focus.”
Equality NC will also head to Mitchell County for a town hall event on Jan. 30 in conjunction with the newly-formed Gay Straight Alliance.
One focus of the campaign, Jones says, will be on “how the harms of this amendment are so far-reaching: it hits everything from domestic violence protections to who you can visit in the hospital. People want to call this a marriage amendment or a gay marriage ban, but it’s so much bigger than that.”
Photo by Bill Rhodes