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The color of change

Flashes of yellow could be seen among the overwhelming sea of blue faces at this year's Duke-UNC basketball game showing Duke students’ opposition to North Carolina’s controversial marriage amendment.

As the long-awaited basketball rivalry took place March 3, many Crazies took a minute to wave 1000 yellow bandanas in the air. They did this to display their distaste with Amendment One, a measure that would define marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman in the North Carolina constitution.

It would be the only recognized domestic partnership possible in the state, said junior Elena Botella, a member of Duke Together Against Constitutional Discrimination and columnist for The Chronicle. Duke Together teamed up with Durham People’s Alliance to organize this “yellow flash mob” by distributing the bandanas before the game, she added. The cloud of yellow protest was visible on ESPN after the first television time out.

“The goal was to demonstrate to the 3.5 million viewers of the game—many of whom are North Carolinians—that Duke is united in opposition to Amendment One,” Botella said.

The enthusiastic protest was effective because of its simplicity and straightforwardness, noted junior Mitu Yilma, one of the Crazies that wore and waved the bandana during the Tobacco Road rivalry.

“Simple, unified moves seem to get the most attention,” she said. “Nearly every student in the student section waved the yellow bandana…to show the huge audience watching the Duke-UNC game that Duke is not having it with this Amendment One nonsense.”

Injustices to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community as well as to unmarried couples are why Crazies and the wider Duke community reject Amendment One, said Ubong Akpaninyie, a senior who participated in the protest.

“The rights of a minority population should never be contested in a format of a vote,” he said. “Upholding the ‘one man and one woman’ marriage as the only domestic legal union recognized in North Carolina affects more North Carolinians than just LGBT-identified people. I believe that yellow bandanas advocated this statement and showed a broad coalition of support on campus.”

Botella said some students refused bandanas because they did not care to make a political statement at the University’s most cherished sporting event.

Both Yilma and she added that they see this as a human rights issue, not a political issue.

“I think lots of Duke students believe though that opposing Amendment One isn't about a ‘political statement,’” Botella said. “Amendment One is about the basic rights and dignity of LGBT individuals and unmarried individuals in the state of North Carolina. The UNC game was a good venue because it is a moment of unity and solidarity, and Duke Together is also about unity and solidarity.”

Update: Elena Botella is also a columnist for The Chronicle. 

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