I started to doubt that bipartisan efforts still existed, in government in general and North Carolina specifically, but I was pleasantly surprised to find two former North Carolina mayors joining together for an unlikely cause: defeating a constitutional ban on gay marriage. The North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage Amendment, also called Amendment 1, would amend North Carolina’s constitution to ban gay marriage, civil unions and domestic unions. Two Charlotte mayors, Republican Richard Vinroot and Democrat Harvey Gantt, recorded a new internet video, encouraging North Carolina citizens to vote against Amendment 1 in the May 8 primary.
The video, created by the Coalition to Protect All N.C. Families, uses the distinctive standpoints of the two former elected officials to make what is currently a very partisan and divisive issue appear to be a seemingly universal one. Gantt (D) indicates how the amendment would impact women, children, and families as well as minorities by saying “this [measure] writes discrimination in to our constitution.” Vinroot (R), however, points to the potential economic effects of the amendment by detailing how it would hurt NC’s ability to attract job and business opportunities to the state. By using alternate messages to promote the same policy, the Mayors aim to appeal to multiple audiences and expand the narrow definition of Amendment 1, as is currently defined as a “gay rights” issue.
This bipartisan effort, as exciting and promising as it may be, calls to mind three questions: 1) Will a bipartisan partnership reap bipartisan opposition to the amendment at the polls? 2) Will this bipartisan union between Gantt and Vinroot spur more bipartisan efforts in the NC General Assembly? and 3) Is it easier to embrace bipartisan efforts when you no longer officially hold office? If the answer to all three questions is yes—then we should encourage more former elected officials to lead the charge towards bipartisanship and compromise.