The presidential election could turn on North Carolina. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are pouring millions into the state and surrogates are blanketing the state with rallies.
But could Lennie Gerber and Pearl Berlin be the Democrats’ secret weapon?
The Human Rights Campaign is pulling out the elderly lesbian couple, in hopes their heartwarming story of love in Dixie will tip the balance.
“We are in love, and we tell each other that every day,” Gerber said in one ad, as the camera focused in on the couple in their living room. “We have a lot to worry about in this election,” she continued, with a call to defend gay rights and turn out for Hillary Clinton and Democrats.
“Who am I voting for? Why would you even ask?” Berlin says incredulously, as viewers catch glimpses of the couple’s wedding announcement (with its Hebrew calendar date noted), photo albums, and kitchen table. “It’s well past time for America to have a woman president. If Hillary’s sitting in the White House, I shall be very happy.”
Appearing in two spots for the queer advocacy group, Gerber and Berlin have a long history as trailblazers for equality. Going on a half century together, they were plaintiffs to a federal lawsuit that overturned North Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban before the Supreme Court granted marriage equality nationwide. The two have lived openly since they met, and moved to the state in the early ‘70’s.
Much rides on the November elections in North Carolina. Aside from the presidential contest, the state’s residents will cast ballots in tight races for governor and senator. Also up for a vote is a controversial bill passed earlier in the year that prohibited cities from instituting anti-discrimination measures protecting queer people and forbade transgender people from using bathrooms matching their gender identity.
In another HRC spot, the couple urged North Carolinians to strike the law through referendum.
“The prejudice that still exists is very sad to me,” Gerber said. “Every single vote counts… You have to make the effort to go to the polls and vote.”
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.