United, they pledged to vote in opposition.

Elon University students and community members registered and pledged to vote against Amendment One during Race to the Ballot, an event dedicated to educating voters about a controversial state legislation, Feb. 15 in McKinnon Hall. Nine campus organizations, including SPECTRUM, the LGBTQ office and Better Together, welcomed a team of activists from the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families committed to informing North Carolinians about the consequences of the proposed amendment, which, if passed, would recognize only the legal union of one man and one woman as constitutional within the state. The amendment will appear on the state ballot May 8.

The coalition is comprised of more than 75 statewide organizations united against the amendment, which would invalidate all unmarried partnerships and civil unions, both heterosexual and homosexual.

All four of Elon’s a cappella groups performed while individuals circulated around the room, collecting information about the amendment. More than 140 people registered to vote and signed pledges to “Vote Against.”

[box] Video by Katie Blunt, photography by Merissa Blitz. [/box]

“Better Together wanted to sponsor Race to the Ballot because we are an interfaith organization at Elon, but that does not limit us to just religious backgrounds and philosophical backgrounds,” said Mason Sklut, co-president of Better Together. “One of the key things that we like people to focus on is having mutually respectful relationships between different groups.”

Voter registration began in Moseley Center the morning of Feb. 15 and remained open throughout the evening of information and entertainment. Representatives of university organizations that sponsored the event promoted awareness and social equality while the Race to the Ballot team members continued to register voters and collect pledges to vote against the amendment.

In an on-stage presentation at the start of the event, Jen Jones, communications director of the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families, explained that Amendment One would directly affect not only the rights of gays, but the rights of women, families and senior citizens as well. The passage of the amendment could complicate the legality and enforcement of child custody rulings, domestic violence claims and the wills and trusts of the deceased, Jones said.

“The issue that we’re trying to tackle is one of the most important things facing our state in modern times,” said Cameron Williams, member of Quality North Carolina, a Greensboro-based advocacy group for gay rights. “If we pass this amendment, it will be darn near impossible to reverse. I don’t think we should take that kind of risk.”

The Race to the Ballot team began its journey across North Carolina in January and will continue traveling until early March. The group has scheduled events at 26 college campuses, towns and cities, from Asheville to Wilmington

The Race to the Ballot movement is part one of a three-part effort to raise awareness and ultimately foster solidarity against the passage of Amendment One. The second part of the movement will commence next month by providing college students with information to share with friends and family over spring break and the effort will culminate in a collective march to the polls on April 19, when the early voting period begins.

Jones encouraged students to vote early because the voting period in May coincides with finals and graduation.

“We really believe that early voting is going to be pivotal to defeating this discriminatory measure come May 8,” Jones said. “(The march to the polls) is a huge part of Race to the Ballot. The first people who get there win.”