Fitzsimon File

The shrinking support for discrimination

A sense of panic appears to be setting in among the forces who want to write discrimination into the North Carolina constitution. And for good reason.

Almost every day brings more signs of the growing momentum against the marriage discrimination amendment that is on the ballot May 8.

Prominent business people, Republican and Democratic political figures, clergy members, civil rights activists, and community leaders are joining the growing chorus of voices opposing the amendment.

Powerful commercials with real people talking about the impact on their lives of the broad and ambiguous language in the amendment are now reaching voters across the state.

Families and children will lose health care. Domestic violence protections may be threatened. Wills and trusts and visitation rights could be affected.

News reports are reinforcing that frightening reality, that this amendment does far more than ban same-sex marriage in North Carolina. That’s already illegal.

This amendment would ban civil unions too, forever. No legislature could change that even if they wanted to.

The polls that used to be so confusing are starting to make sense. Surveys have long shown that while the majority of people in North Carolina still oppose same sex marriage, well more than half of voters in the state support either same sex marriage or civil unions for same sex couples.

The amendment bans both and that word is getting out too, just like its affect on families and workers is being more widely understood.

Polls that used to show the amendment passing easily now have it not much above 50 percent and falling.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way for the pro-amendment crusaders. They were confident that once they convinced the Republican General Assembly to put the discrimination on the ballot that its passage was all but assured.

After all, every other Southern state has such an amendment and polls have long showed that people in North Carolina oppose same sex marriage.

But a funny thing happened on the way to constitutional discrimination. The pro-discrimination forces went too far and people in North Carolina are standing up and saying no.

A recent documentary about the amendment on WRAL-TV featured business leaders against the amendment, worried that it makes North Carolina less attractive for economic development.

The documentary producers asked the amendment supporters for CEOs who would speak out in favor of the amendment but they could not come up with a single one.

Even leading Republican politicians would rather not talk about it. House Speaker Thom Tillis has admitted it will be repealed in 10 to 20 years if it passes because younger generations don’t support it.

Gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory never brings up the amendment on the stump and when pressed sheepishly says he will vote it. His heart is not in it either.

The pro-discrimination forces sent out an email asking for money this week and the plea seemed far more urgent than the usual fundraising appeal in the last weeks of the campaign. There was a sense of crisis and panic in the plea.

And they ought to be worried, those who want to demonize a group of people and write discrimination into a document that is supposed to expand rights, not take them away.

They are losing support every day. And they are on the wrong side of history.