The North Carolina Republican Party has put their official stamp of approval on anti-LGBT mailer sent to voters in and around Fayetteville, N.C., just days before the general election. The mailers decry the “Homosexual Agenda” and accuse LGBT groups of seeking “special rights for homosexuals.”
The GOP’s mailer target Democratic state Senate candidate Billy Richardson, who is running against incumbent Republican Sen. Wesley Meredith (Cumberland).
In the mailer, state Republicans say Richardson “doesn’t have a moral compass” and points out his support for LGBT marriage equality. They also single out Richardson’s endorsement from “activist pro-gay groups like Equality NC Action Fund that support special rights for homosexuals,” the mailer reads, complete with an image of a campaign button emblazoned with Equality NC’s logo.
On the reverse, the mailer says Meredith “supports Traditional Christian Marriage between one man and one woman,” and includes a snippet from a news report on an anti-gay magistrate who resigned his position rather than perform legal same-sex marriages.
The GOP mailer adds: “Now the ACLU, their Trial Lawyers and Pro-Gay activists are pushing the next step in the Homosexual Agenda — getting magistrates who have religious objections to same-sex marriages fired for declining to marry gay couples.”
The mailer indicates that it was paid for by the North Carolina Republican Party.
But locals aren’t happy, including Peter McClelland, president of the Log Cabin Republicans of North Carolina, the local chapter of a national organization for LGBT Republicans.
“I am very disappointed in this mail piece, and I will echo the words of Governor McCrory in my hope to move forward on a more productive path now that the issue of marriage equality has finally been settled by our courts,” McClelland said in an emailed statement. “We actively oppose demonizing the LGBTQ Community, but we are focused on a positive, conservative message that can move our party and our state forward.
“Whether on the issue of teen homelessness and suicide, school bullying, or helping the less fortunate, we believe that there is more to be gained from the Community and Conservatives working together than being pitted against one another.”
McClelland added: “It should be a time for healing in our state and our country, and it will take both sides letting go of old wounds to make that a reality.”
Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, the state’s LGBT advocacy group, called the mailer a “last-ditch effort to mislead North Carolina voters.”
“Extreme forces in our state have steeped to new lows by attacking Equality NC and the pro-equality candidates we endorse,” Sgro said in a statement. “Amid the scare tactics and outright lies, these propaganda pieces circulated in targeted districts question the very morality of any candidate who supports the freedom to marry in the state we call home.”
Sgro added: “This isn’t just politics. It’s personal. And fair-minded North Carolinians won’t fall for it.”
Sgro said his group will double-down on their efforts to educate voters on fair-minded candidates for office and “ensure that our state elects candidates with dignity and respect for the values we hold most dear, including supporting all North Carolina families, fighting for our fellow citizens, and promoting fairness for all.”
The mailer from state party officials is relatively surprising, given the party’s mostly silent responses to recent advancements on LGBT marriage equality and other issues. Earlier this year, the party dropped support for a federal anti-LGBT marriage amendment and softened its opposition to adoption by gay couples.
Republican state legislative leaders, meanwhile, have been particularly outspoken on recent marriage developments. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and state House Speaker Thom Tillis have said they’ll continue to defend an anti-LGBT marriage amendment overturned by two federal judges this month. Last week, Berger joined with more than two dozen other state senators in a statement calling on state court officials to allow magistrates to refuse to perform legal same-sex marriages.
qnotes reached out to state Republican communications director Will Allison, but was unable to receive comment or a statement.