Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

A Ballot Blunder? North Carolina Remaining the Only Southern State without a Constitutional Marriage Ban Depends on Whether a Republican Strategy Backfires

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

A Ballot Blunder? North Carolina Remaining the Only Southern State without a Constitutional Marriage Ban Depends on Whether a Republican Strategy Backfires

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

WHEN REPUBLICANS TRYING TO pass a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in North Carolina moved the referendum from the November 2012 election to May, five months earlier, they may have initially counted the shift as a win. But gay rights activists have since come to see the maneuver as a mistake, which they hope will ensure the proposal's failure.

Equality North Carolina's recent interim executive director, Alex Miller, concedes he had a sinking feeling when GOP lawmakers revised the proposed marriage equality ban so the vote would no longer coincide with a presidential election. Instead it will happen the same day as the Republican presidential primary--a surefire way to attract conservatives.

But not only has Miller memorized a list of local Democratic races that will also be on the ballot, drawing voters to offset the number of conservatives going to polls that day, he's bullish about the campaign's new dynamic.

This is now a turnout election. Instead of battling for votes from undecideds and independents, both sides must focus on getting those who already agree with them to the polls.

"At the minimum, for every dollar we spend on media we will be spending two on getting out the vote," says Miller, grateful to have clear priorities on investing his group's cash.

"In the primary, you are of course going to get the die-hard Democrats and the die-hard Republicans. And I'm not sure that's a pluralistic view of the state of North Carolina," laments Marcus Brandon, the state's only openly gay lawmaker, who says statewide polling shows voters on his side. …

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