NC JUSTICE NEWS: Amendment One + Defenders of Justice Awards + Unemployment and Poverty in NC

AMENDMENT ONE: Election Day is around the corner

There’s only one week to go until North Carolinians choose whether or not to write discrimination into our state’s constitution and every day seems to bring more signs of the growing momentum against Amendment One, which will appear on the ballot May 8. Individuals from all walks of life across the state are rejecting the amendment that would write "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state" into our state constitution.

These individuals are political figures from both sides of the aisle and community leaders who reject writing hate into our state laws. When WRAL produced a documentary on Amendment One, the host reported that the program couldn’t find a single pro-Amendment CEO that would be willing to be interviewed. Others are members of the clergy, civil rights leaders, and everyday citizens are speaking out against legislation that would harm all North Carolinians.

These people know that same-sex marriage is already illegal in the state, and that the amendment isn’t merely a same-sex marriage issue. Amendment One would ban civil unions. It would strip rights for domestic partnerships and unmarried couples – regardless of their sexual orientation. If it passes, families could lose access to health care, and domestic violence protections for unmarried couples could be invalidated. North Carolina’s anti-domestic violence statute ensures certain protections for victims of domestic violence who have had a “personal relationship” with their abuser, yet if the amendment passes, courts may no longer recognize unmarried couples as having what would qualify as a “personal relationship.” Such an event already took place in states such as Ohio and Virginia that pushed through similar amendments.

It's not too late for North Carolina to reject hate and protect all of its citizens, as the state constitution was designed to do.

DEFENDERS OF JUSTICE AWARDS: Only one week left!

Join the NC Justice Center in a celebration of some of North Carolina's most committed and effective progressive advocates. The Defenders of Justice Awards will be held on Thursday, May 10, 2012 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Bay 7 in the American Tobacco Campus, Durham. Purchase your ticket today!

The Justice Center presents its Defender of Justice Awards to honor individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions in the fight against poverty in four areas that reflect the scope of the Justice Center’s work. The 2012 honorees are:

LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY

  • State Representative Deborah Ross of Wake County for her dedication to increasing access to affordable housing and public transportation, protecting civil rights, and improving conditions for North Carolina's workers.
  • State Representative Larry Hall of Durham County for his commitment to protecting vulnerable families and members of the military from predatory lenders, safeguarding voting rights, and expanding opportunities for low-income individuals and communities throughout the state.

POLICY RESEARCH AND ADVOCACY

  • Disability Rights North Carolina for their research and advocacy efforts to uphold the fundamental rights of people with disabilities to live free from harm in the communities of their choice and with the opportunity to participate fully and equally in society.

LITIGATION

  • Mary Lee Hall of Legal Aid of NC’s Farmworker Unit for fighting to protect the rights and improve the well-being of the tens of thousands of migrant and seasonal farmworkers who work in North Carolina’s fields.

COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT

  • Reuben Blackwell of Rocky Mount for his tenacity in opening doors to opportunity, breaking down barriers, and standing up for the rights and well-being of the people of Rocky Mount and the state.

TRUTH & HOPE TOUR OF POVERTY: Tour goes west on April 30

Data released last Friday showed that unemployment dropped across 98 out of North Carolina’s 100 counties in March, with 85 counties witnessing a general drop in unemployment over the last year. Yet the numbers also show that most of the long-term improvements in joblessness are in the state’s most populous regions, including the Piedmont Triad, Research Triangle, the Greater Charlotte Region, and Western North Carolina. The metro areas in these regions account for more than 90 percent of the total job growth in North Carolina’s metro areas since March 2011.

The numbers don’t tell the whole story, including the rural areas across these counties that are still struggling with unemployment, homelessness, and other life-threatening challenges. Even in some of the largest cities in North Carolina, residents are still suffering, as evidenced by the Truth & Hope Tour of Poverty, a state-wide tour of rural counties and inner city neighborhoods where North Carolinians have struggled to find work, decent housing, transportation, and sufficient food for their families, which is traveling travel across western North Carolina from April 30 to May 1.

Yesterday, the tour made stops in Guilford, Rockingham, Surry, and Rowan Counties, where hundreds gathered to tell their stories. Residents of these cities and towns described struggling with employment, due to a sparse job market and counties that have struggled to retain businesses and industries that can employ their residents. In Mt. Airy, thousands of jobs have been lost over the past decade. The tour stopped in Rowan County, where unemployment has hovered over 10 percent. In 2010, more than 20 percent of the county lived in poverty.

Follow the Truth & Hope Tour on Facebook and Twitter today as they make stops in Catawba, Henderson, Mecklenburg and Union Counties. See photos of the tour here.

 

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