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A race to rally against Amendment One

Mayor Kleinschmidt, Jen Jones and Town Council member Penny Rich wait in the Pit for the Amendment One Musical's Flash Mob.

Jen Jones continued her 322-mile campaign against N.C. Amendment One on Thursday, leading students and local politicians in a flash mob through campus.

Members of the UNC Coalition Against Amendment One kicked off the all-day rally against the state’s proposed gay marriage ban in the Pit, encouraging students to participate in the “Vote Against” photoshoot and to register to vote.

Since Jan. 27, Jones has logged more than 100 miles and visited 15 cities as part of the Race to the Ballot initiative.

Jones, communications director for the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families, and her team hope to mobilize N.C. voters against a same-sex referendum on the May primary ballot. Jones estimated the campaign has registered more than 2,000 voters, most of them college students.

Jones said early voting beginning April 19 will be important because most students will have left campus before the May 8 primary. Students will also be able to vote at a new early voting site on the second floor of Rams Head Dining Hall.

At noon, Jones, followed by Chapel Hill Town Council member Penny Rich and about 20 students, raced from South Building to the Pit and was greeted by a large cheering crowd, including Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt.

A performance of UNC sophomore Rachel Kaplan’s “N.C. Amendment One: The Musical,” inspired by the Prop 8 musical in California, followed the runners’ entrance.

The California State Legislature passed a similar amendment in 2008. It was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court last week.

“I hope it helps provide some clarification as to what the amendment truly means,” Kaplan said about her musical.

Many opposed to the amendment believe recruiting student voters will swing the vote in their favor. Jones said she’s been amazed by student support.

“This is the first time I’ve seen 18- to 24-year-old students taking the lead in a movement to push back overreaching legislation,” she said.

But a January poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning think tank in Raleigh, reported that Amendment One has support among a majority of voters in the state with 56 percent favoring it.

While more Democrats are expected to vote in the primary following Gov. Bev Perdue’s decision not to seek re-election, 46 percent of Democrats in the poll said they would vote for the amendment, compared to 44 percent against.

N.C. Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, said in a statement that he supports the amendment because heterosexual marriage needs to be protected from activist judges.

“There is a real threat to the institution of marriage,” he said. “(Courts are) using the state constitution to reverse the very pro-marriage policies that were in effect when the state constitution was adopted.”

N.C. Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, said the difference will be made by voters in the middle, a group more likely to understand the amendment’s downfalls.

“That’s where it’s decided, not in those passionate groups that already have their minds made up.”

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