Anti-gay GOP seeks to overtake civil rights message of equality, justice
Originally published: Sept. 6, 2011, 9:11 a.m.
Updated: Sept. 6, 2011, 11:50 a.m.
RALEIGH, N.C. — Democratic members of the North Carolina General Assembly held a press conference today announcing their opposition to a proposed, anti-LGBT constitutional amendment that would ban marriage and other relationship recognition for same-sex couples.
The presser was hosted by House Minority Leader Rep. Joe Hackney (D-Orange) and Rep. Larry Hall (D-Durham). They outlined several reasons why they will stand in opposition to the amendment if it is brought up for debate and a vote when the legislature returns to Raleigh next week for a special session devoted primarily to constitutional amendments. Republican House and Senate leadership have indicated they will hear the amendment; on Aug. 30, House Speaker Pro Tem Rep. Dale Folwell (R-Forsyth) and House Majority Leader Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) held a press conference in which they declared “it was time” for North Carolinians to debate the measure.
Both Hackney and Hall said the amendment was a threat to job creation and said it was the “wrong issue at the wrong time,” pointing to continued economic difficulties, recent hurricane damage and other challenges facing state lawmakers and government.
Hall said the amendment ran counter to lawmakers’ promises to create more business-friendly environments in the state and said it put up a “you are not welcome” sign on the state’s doors.
Rep. Grier Martin (D-Wake) also came out in opposition to the amendment. Invoking the impending repeal of the U.S. military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, Martin said the amendment would send the wrong message to and hurt LGBT-led military families, who will be able to serve openly and honestly after the policy’s full repeal is certified and goes into effect on Sept. 20. Martin also asserted that his constituents had sent him to Raleigh focus on jobs, not “divisive” social issues. Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland) added that the amendment could affect family law in unexpected ways, including negative impacts on adoption, medical treatment and other areas where laws on what constitutes a “relationship” or “domestic legal union” are ambiguous.
Folwell was scheduled to hold another anti-gay press conference following the Democrats’ media event. Folwell’s presser, slated for 12:30 p.m., will feature prominent African-American leaders who have come out in favor of the amendment. Statewide advocacy group Equality North Carolina has already responded, highlighting previous comments from African-American leaders in opposition to anti-LGBT comments made by North Carolina Values Coalition Executive Director Tami Fitzgerald in Greensboro’s News & Record (see, “Gay rights are civil rights, advocates say”).
“Tami Fitzgerald does not speak for the civil rights movement, it’s advocates or it’s organizations,” Rep. Hall, a member of the Durham County NAACP Executive Committee, said in a release redistributed today. “She and the groups for which she’s worked for have consistently fought against human and civil rights issues that disproportionately affect poor minority citizens, who even now endure greater suffering due to her efforts. This so-called ‘marriage amendment’ is just such a discriminatory attack on a minority of our fellow citizens. I oppose this amendment because it is morally wrong, totally unnecessary and damaging to our economy at the worst possible time.”
Today’s pro- and anti-LGBT press events follow the release by Equality North Carolina of a new publication outlining the harms and potential, negative effects of the amendment. Read our story on the group’s publication, “Advocates leak ‘the truth’ about anti-LGBT amendment.”