Hundreds of people gathered in Pack Square Sept. 12 to protest a state constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage in North Carolina that passed the House earlier that day.
Scroll below for photos from the event and remarks delivered by Asheville City Council member Gordon Smith.
The amendment passed the state Senate Sept. 12 and will go before voters across the state in May, 2012.
Slideshow of photos by Max Cooper.
Here’s a transcript of remarks delivered to the crowd by Smith, originally published on the Scrutiny Hooligans blog:
Thank you all for coming together tonight to stand up for the principles upon which our nation was founded. On the eve of historic steps in Raleigh that seek to dismiss and condemn the committed relationships of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered North Carolinians, we stand with a united voice for equality.
We stand in opposition to any referendum that will restrict the freedom to pursue happiness.
We stand in opposition to attempts on the part of our elected leaders to dismiss and disrespect the relationships of their constituents.
We stand together — straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered — married and single — Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Atheists. We say with one voice that making bigotry the law of North Carolina is wrong.
On so many levels, we have been moving closer to recognition of equal rights for all our citizens.
Asheville is moving to protect the rights of all our citizens by implementing Same-Sex Domestic Partner Benefits, a domestic-partner registry, a strengthened non-discrimination policy, an Anti-bullying law.
Here in Asheville, CarePartners, one of Buncombe County’s biggest employers has begun offering SSDPB. Over half of the Fortune 500 offer these benefits as well.
The anti-gay marriage amendment threatens all of these advances.
The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP has come out against the referendum, saying to our legislators, “We strongly urge you to reject the so-called same sex amendment and any other present or future proposals of constitutional amendments that would permanently deprive any person in our great state of his or her inalienable rights.”
Thanks to President Obama’s Executive Order, hospitals across the nation will recognize the visitation rights of same-sex couples. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been sent to the scrap heap of history.
In New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire marriage is respected in all its forms.
Those legislators promoting a referendum on discrimination are fighting against a turning tide.
They are ignoring the direction of history, and they are doing it with the full understanding of what it means for the safety and welfare of the people they are elected to protect and serve.
When a privileged majority votes on the rights of an oppressed minority — the results will always favor the oppressors.
Further: It is never the job of government to prefer one sectarian religious belief over another.
That being said, the path forward is broad and clear. It is peace, freedom, respect, and love.
It is in forgiving Sen. Forrester when he calls Asheville a cesspool of sin that we rise above and drive home our overarching message of peace, freedom, respect, and love.
We will keep loving you, Senator Forrester. We will keep loving anyone who stands against equality.
We will fight every day armed with an eternal truth put forth in our nation’s founding document, that all people are created equal. We will fight armed with this truth and with the love that drives us all to be here tonight. We will fight to make America the beacon of freedom for all.
Let us send a message to all of North Carolina tonight. We will march forward with the knowledge that we are armed with truth, driven by justice, and our destination is freedom. Let those legislators hear you – call them, visit them, email them, write letters to the editors of every newspaper from Murphy to Manteo.
And tonight let them hear your voices. Let them hear you say:
[Call and response]
LOVE LOVE LOVE