Today, 600 students are expected to wear identical yellow shirts in protest of Amendment One.
The amendment, which would change the North Carolina constitution to recognize only marriage between a man and a woman as a legal union, has mobilized a coalition of diverse groups of students and faculty leading up to the May 8 primary.
The movement’s leaders said they are focused on opposing the legislation through educating voters about its ramifications.
Sophomore Josh Orol, head of the t-shirt initiative for the UNC Coalition Against Amendment One, has distributed 600 shirts protesting the amendment.
Students all wear the shirts on specific days to raise awareness, he said.
“I wanted to create a visible icon to show people that a vote on the amendment is approaching,” he said.
Jackie Overton, chairwoman of the Employee Forum, said that while the forum cannot officially take a stand against the amendment, it has outlined its possible consequences to faculty and staff.
“We want to raise the point that this affects many people, not just gay couples,” she said.
In a letter to Chancellor Holden Thorp, Overton outlined the forum’s concerns about the amendment. These include vague legislation, the amendment’s discriminatory nature and the negative impacts it would have on UNC faculty and staff — such as the loss of benefits for many North Carolina families, not solely those with same-sex partnerships.
The UNC Coalition Against Amendment One is a student group focused on educating students about the amendment and registering voters, said group member Stephen Bishop.
“Ideally, we like to let people make the decision for themselves, as long as they are educated about the issue,” he said.
Bishop said that many people decide to vote against the amendment when they learn that there is more to it than just gay marriage. Some conservatives who oppose gay marriage also oppose this amendment.
“This is one of the harshest, broadest amendments out there,” he said.
The coalition includes campus groups such as Project Dinah, Feminist Students United, Young Democrats, Students for a Democratic Society and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight Alliance. Their aim is to persuade the community to oppose the amendment, he said.
The UNC Roosevelt Institute is taking a different approach to oppose the amendment. Francis Wong, co-president of UNC’s chapter, said that while most groups look at the issue from a moral or humanities standpoint, they wanted to provide an alternative narrative.
The institute compiled statements about why to oppose the amendment from each of their departments — such as foreign policy and economics, he said.
“We thought it would be unique to come at it from a policy angle,” Wong said.
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