Race to the Ballot visits Chapel Hill to encourage votes against Amendment One

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Rachel Kaplan, Julie Saracino, John Michael Watkins and Ben Elling rehearse “Amendment One: The Musical.”

On main campus around noon today, students might find themselves surrounded by a cheering crowd, singing and dancing students and a group of runners that includes Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt.

The planned flash mob is part of the statewide Race to the Ballot campaign to encourage people to vote against N.C. Amendment One, which would constitutionally define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The campaign was created by Jen Jones, the communications director for Protect N.C. Families, a LGBT rights group organized in response to Amendment One.

Jones began running across the state with a media team in January to raise awareness about the harms the group says the amendment would cause. By the time they complete their trip from Asheville to Wilmington in March, they will have traveled 322 miles and visited more than 20 cities.

Today’s flash mob plans to create a path from South Building to the Pit for Jones, Kleinschmidt and others to run down.

Stephen Bishop, a member of the UNC Coalition Against Amendment One, said he thinks the flash mob will draw attention.

“We’re just trying to be as loud and obnoxious as we can,” he said. “It’s going to gain a large crowd of people just staring and watching trying to figure out what’s going on.”

Then “Amendment One: The Musical,” written and produced by UNC sophomore Rachel Kaplan, will be performed for students in the Pit around 12:20 p.m.

“I’m hoping they’ll like it or at least just watch it even if they don’t agree with it and learn more about the amendment,” she said.

Bishop said it is important for students to be aware of the negative implications this amendment could have for LGBT families.

“Most people don’t even know what Amendment One is or what the impact will be.”

Supporters of the amendment, including the N.C. Values Coalition, say because Amendment One is a referendum it will allow residents to choose how the state defines marriage.

UNC sophomore Brendan Madigan said he supports the amendment because it will protect traditional marriage, and he thinks it will easily pass.

“On campus the general consensus is that students oppose it, but in North Carolina as a whole, I think most people support it.”

The UNC Coalition Against Amendment One, which includes Young Democrats and other students, will also hold a voter registration drive in the Pit from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The group will be distributing pledge cards for voters to commit to vote against the amendment.

“It’s our way to get a commitment from voters that this isn’t something they’re just going to forget about tomorrow,” said Peter Vogel, Young Democrats Amendment One chairman.

Students can participate in the Vote Against photo shoot, modeled after California’s NoH8 Campaign, in Union room 2518 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Photographers will take free photographs of students wearing Vote Against T-shirts.

Bishop said they will send the photos to students so they can share them on social media sites.

The day’s events will conclude with a phone bank at the Young Democrats office from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“This will be one of many opportunities for students to volunteer” Kaplan said.

Contact the City Editor at city@dailytarheel.com.

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