Twenty-four hours – that’s just about the amount of time it took Republican leadership in the North Carolina General Assembly to push through a drastic and draconian revision to our state’s constitution. Their hasty consideration of the anti-LGBT constitutional amendment circumvented a true public hearing on the bill and betrayed Republicans’ utter disrespect for their hallowed chambers, the law and the people of this great state.
The amendment, which will ban recognition of marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples and even many opposite-sex couples, had been assigned a Senate committee hearing though no one would have known it by the body’s public calendar. Capitol reporters caught wind of the amendment’s placement in a stripped out version of another unrelated bill and alerted the public. Only formally announced the night before its hearing, House and Senate leaders sought to play a game of bait-and-switch with citizens. Upon returning to work the next day, they abruptly moved the bill’s hearing from the Senate to the House and in less than hour passed it and sent it to the floor.
No public comment was allowed. There was no input from citizens and no analysis from legal and constitutional scholars. “We don’t have time,” Republican leaders said, though a more accurate statement would have been, “We can’t allow public discussion; it will reveal the true motivation for and horrid consequences of this legislation.”
The amendment passed the House. Less than a full day later, it gained the slim three-fifths majority approval it needed in the Senate. It will appear on the ballot on May 8, 2012.
As intriguing and utterly disgusting as the legislative process might have been, there are more important matters to which we should now turn our attention. At the forefront sits concerns over an impending ballot initiative that will pit anti-LGBT hate groups against North Carolina’s voting and taxpaying LGBT citizens, their families and friends and others for whom this amendment will spell disaster.
The North Carolina Values Coalition will lead the fight to enshrine discrimination into our state constitution. A thorough examination of the group, its leadership, supporters and donors will be necessary as the campaigns advance. Citizens would do well to learn more about the people who are willing to push all other legitimate concerns and considerations aside in their quest to constitutionally guarantee permanent second-class citizenship for LGBT Tar Heels.
The coalition’s executive director, Tami Fitzgerald, is well-known in Raleigh. She’s worked primarily as a lobbyist for the state’s most radical anti-gay advocacy group, the North Carolina Family Policy Council. Based in Raleigh, the council is a state affiliate of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council, named a hate group in November 2010 by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Prior to founding the coalition, Fitzgerald headed up NC4Marriage, a group founded by the council. The connections between Fitzgerald, her coalition, the council and its D.C. parent organization are telling. Why have North Carolina Republicans aligned themselves with known hate groups?
Whether Amendment One passes or fails in May is totally dependent upon North Carolina voters. We hope our fellow Tar Heels are able to see through the smoke-and-mirrors show so successfully presented by hate extremists — some of whom have aligned themselves with white supremacists — and vote down this amendment. North Carolina does not need the hate these jesters are pushing. : :