Politics & Government
6:00 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Opponent of Marriage Amendment Says It's Discrimination

Yesterday we heard from a volunteer who belongs to the main advocacy group working to pass a constitutional amendment barring gay marriage and civil unions on the May 8th ballot. Yesterday’s profile focused on one man’s belief that the state constitution should follow the Bible when it comes to same-sex marriage. Today’s profile features a middle-aged mother of two who says she opposes the measure because she understands how discrimination feels.

Jessica Jones: It’s just after lunchtime, and Marna Foss is flipping through a thick list of registered voters in the state. She places one hand just below a typed name and with the other hand whips out a prepaid cell phone.

Marna Foss: Let’s see Mr. Weaver, if you’re home.

As Foss dials, she pulls out a script she follows for every phone call.

Foss: Good afternoon, is Mr. Weaver in please? Oh hi, my name is Marna and I’m a volunteer for Protect All North Carolina Families, and I’m calling to ask if Mr. Weaver knows about Amendment One.

Foss volunteers several times a week in this office space that’s used by Protect All North Carolina Families, the main group that’s fighting against the proposed amendment. She’s a fifty-something industrial designer who’s in between jobs right now. Foss says she’s volunteering because she believes the proposed amendment would legalize discrimination in North Carolina’s constitution.

Foss: I think it’s bad for the economy, I think it’s bad for families, I think it’s a bad precedent to set overall. And since I don’t have money to give, I have the time, and it’s very important for me to put my money where my mouth is.

Foss is divorced with two grown children. She says they’re used to seeing her volunteer for political campaigns. But Foss says her kids aren’t exactly on the same page about her passion for this issue.

Foss: The oldest one in Chicago he thinks it’s awesome, and my younger one who’s 23 thinks I’m stark raving mad. He doesn’t understand the passion behind being for something and having the ability to make changes. Someday he’ll understand passion but he’s never been discriminated against, so he hasn’t been forced to recognize the discrimination that many of us face.

Foss says she’s faced discrimination as a woman from the time she was a student in industrial design back in the seventies. She was one of only three women in her graduating class. And although she’s had a successful career working for companies including JC Penney and Estee Lauder, Foss says she had to fight discrimination often.

Foss: I’ve faced it many times. My boss wasn’t going to give me a raise cause I was going to go out and get pregnant again. One time I went on a job interview. Well you know a man has to raise his family oh and I don’t have to raise mine? And this was five years ago!

Foss says it’s the mother in her that makes her fight against the proposed marriage amendment. She doesn’t understand why state lawmakers are trying to pass a measure to ban same-sex marriage when it’s already not legal here anyway. Foss chose to move to North Carolina from Connecticut about five years ago. She thinks if measures like this get passed, North Carolina will scare off some very talented people.

Foss: Nobody’s going to want to move here, if all of a sudden their family is not going to be recognized as a family, just because they’re a gay family. What happens to the children who have been adopted by either spouse. Grandparents can contest that those are no longer valid. It’s bad for business, we’re going backwards.

And so from now until May, Marna Foss says she’ll work as hard as she can to try to defeat the amendment. She’ll keep calling prospective voters and plans to use her artistic skills to design some bumper stickers. Foss is telling everyone she knows to vote against the amendment.

Foss: What we’re dealing with is rights of people- the right to be protected under the same laws everybody else is. So that keeps me going.

Foss says all the campaign needs to do is get one more vote than the other side. And she intends to get every vote she can.