Even before the Coalition to Protect All North Carolina Families was formed, members of the Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist were aroused to work against it. It was soon clear that someone would need to organize our energies into an effective effort, and Melva Okun stepped forward to do just that. She kept 50 activists informed, updated and encouraged through an e-mail network, she took charge of getting hundreds of yard signs distributed, engaged volunteers beyond our church community, coached us on bringing our message everywhere, and at the close of our efforts, hosted a Victory party on Election night, reminding us of the many victories our work had won, that could not be diminished, in spite of the fact that the amendment passed.
As Melva stepped up to lead our Amendment One Opposition Task Force, Kathy Jooss offered to contact Protect All NC Families, to set up a phone bank at Community Church, operating one night a week from the end of February until the days just before the election, when the phone bank ran from morning till night. Kathy coordinated space use with church staff, set up training sessions and learned how to conduct ongoing training, coordinated volunteer recruitment for the phone banking and several other Task Force activities, and solicited donations of food from local businesses, so that phone bank volunteers who skipped dinner to make calls would have something to eat. Seeing a need for more phone bank hours, Laurie McDonald came forward and offered to host another phone bank in her home. For 10 weeks, every Thursday, every corner of her house, even her children’s bedrooms, was full of phone bankers.
All in all, there were 87 phone bank volunteers from within and beyond our church, many of whom came every week, in part because of the hospitality and encouragement Kathy and Laurie provided.
A critical factor in strengthening the opposition to the amendment is the conversations through which misinformation was corrected and understanding of the implications for civil rights was promoted. Thousands of such conversations rose out of Melva’s leadership and the phone banks Kathy and Laurie organized. While the Amendment did pass, many of these conversations will remain, like seeds, in the minds and hearts of people who will grow stronger in their support for marriage equality.