Originally published: Sept. 30, 2011, 9:17 a.m.
Last updated: Oct. 3, 2011, 10:16 a.m.
CHARLOTTE — After days of hot attention from LGBT media and blogs, North Carolina state Sen. James Forrester (R-Gaston) has opened up and responded to accusations that he falsified some medical credentials and affiliations on his résumé.
“What has happened is the gay community — the homosexuals don’t like the bill that I pushed through the General Assembly,” Forrester told qnotes via phone. “They don’t like the bill. They are trying to kill the messenger. They are working to discredit me but they can’t.”
Forrester added, “If I put anything on my résumé that is false, I’ll certainly change it.”
Any mistakes, Forrester said, were “inadvertent.”
“I don’t need to make up credentials; I have enough of them already,” he said. “The gay community is just trying to dig up anything bad about me to discredit me and discredit the bill. I wish they’d quit sending such hate mail and the terrible phone calls I’m getting from them.”
Forrester also said he had already changed his résumé to list “former” affiliations with groups like the American College of Preventive Medicine, though mentions of the groups remain unedited on his résumé at his personal campaign site and at a web page on the Gaston County Republican Party’s website. In each instance, Forrester’s citations seem to indicate a current and active affiliation with various groups.
Pam’s House Blend blog contributor Scott Rose broke the news of Forrester’s alleged falsifications on Sept. 29 when he published communications with the ACPM Executive Director Michael Barry and other staff. Barry said that Forrester is not a member or fellow.
qnotes traveled to Forrester’s medical practice on Sept. 30 and did find a May 30, 1984, certificate naming Forrester a fellow of the ACPM.
Barry said Friday that his group’s records didn’t show Forrester’s 25-year-old fellowship and that their records don’t go back that far.
“At one time he might have been a member or a fellow but he’s certainly not a fellow now,” Barry said.
Barry declined to comment on Forrester’s claims about gays’ and lesbians’ lifespans.
“From our standpoint, he’s not a member and hasn’t been for a longtime,” he said. “If he was an active member we might be concerned, but he’s not.”
The ACPM’s code of ethics encourages physicians to “maintain an honest and forthright relationship with patients and communities” and provide “information that reflect[s] the best available level of scientific evidence.”
WRAL’s Laura Leslie reports that officials with the Aerospace Medical Association confirmed a past associate fellow status for Forrester, though it lapsed in 2005.
“Dr. James Forrester was a member but his membership lapsed in 2005 for non-payment of the required annual dues,” AsMA Membership Coordinator Gloria Carter told Leslie. “Dr. Forrester was an Associate Fellow only at that time.”
Forrester said he thought he had lifetime membership in the group.
Questions had also surfaced regarding Forrester’s membership status with the Christian Medical and Dental Associations (CMDA). Searches of the Christian medical group’s membership database returned no results for the family physician and 10-term state senator. The group’s database includes practicing members who have opted to be listed. A search of doctors within a 100-mile radius of Forrester’s work address yielded no results for Forrester.
Forrester said he’s been a member of the organization for 25 or 30 years and has even worked mission trips with the group.
CMDA Vice President for Communications Margie Shealy confirmed Forrester’s membership.
“Senator James Forrester has been a CMDA member since 1980 and became a lifetime member in 2000,” Shealy told qnotes via email. “Not all of our members are listed on the doctor’s search on our website.”
On Sept. 29, Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt issued a call for Forrester to resign. Equality North Carolina Interim Executive Director Alex Miller said it should come as no surprise the lawmaker misrepresented personal credentials just as he routinely misrepresents facts about the lives of gay and lesbian people.
Forrester made waves on Sept. 27 after appearing on Sirius/XM’s “Michelangelo Signorile Show,” in which he repeatedly refused to answer simple questions about claims he made on the lifespan of gay and lesbian people. The claims had originally been made at a town hall in Gaston County. The claims were later reported without refutation or fact-checking by Gaston Gazette reporter Wade Allen.
Forrester was the lead sponsor of the anti-LGBT constitutional amendment that would ban marriage, civil unions and domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples. The measure was approved by the legislature on Sept. 13 and placed on the May 2012 ballot.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned for more updates as they become available.