Art Pope-backed conservative group targets N.C. LGBT leaders in ‘vast left-wing network’

'Wait, is this the Onion? No just a press release by the Civitas Institute'

A right-wing think tank funded by conservative business owner and politico Art Pope is targeting LGBT community leaders in its new “Mapping the Left” website, providing a glimpse, they say, into a “vast, shadowy network” of groups and leaders that “make up the radical liberal left in North Carolina.”

The project comes from the Civitas Institute, funded and created by the Pope family and once named after Art Pope’s father, John William Pope.

The group has included several LGBT community groups, their staffers, board members and other volunteers, as well as documenting their funding sources and supporters. Individuals’ names also include other organization affiliations, some of which aren’t currently listed in the main database.

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Civitas says it will unveil “new revelations” about their so-called left-wing network throughout the spring. The site, they say, is meant to expose a “well-organized progressive movement has built a network of groups that work together to push an extreme, liberal/progressive agenda that the media has failed to report upon.”

Among the groups and leaders targeted are Equality North Carolina and its related foundation. The site lists some current and former staffers and board members, including Chris Sgro, Jen Jones, Rod Goins, Ken Wittenauer, Mary Jamis and Crystal Richardson. Even folks like Dan Gurley, a died-in-the-wool Republican supporter of Equality NC, doesn’t get a pass.

Other groups include the Asheville-based Campaign for Southern Equality and its executive director the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, LGBT-affirming Binkley Baptist Church in Chapel Hill, Yadkin Valley’s immigrant and LGBT rights group El Cambio and the NC AIDS Action Network.

The site also includes the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, a group they note is based in New Hampshire but has six member congregations in North Carolina.

The groups are collectively categorized under one of two categories: “homosexual rights” and “lesbian gay bisexual and transgender.”

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Immigrant groups are listed, too, including Charlotte’s Latin American Coalition. That listing includes openly LGBT staffers Lacey Williams and Jaime Villeges.

Durham’s altnewsweekly, The Indy, doesn’t seem to be taking the new Civitas project all that seriously.

“Wait, is this the Onion? No just a press release by the Civitas Institute,” Indy begins its article on the project.

Here at qnotes, we’re just a tad bit disappointed and sad we weren’t included in such an illustrious group of change makers and courageous advocates for equality.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

7 Replies to “Art Pope-backed conservative group targets N.C. LGBT leaders in ‘vast left-wing network’”

  1. How do I find out if I made the cut, or if I need to raise my profile? I could probably benefit from the exposure…

  2. I am so happy we are being recognized in N.C.. Shows someone is getting a little scared of us for some reason. I have attended two Gay and Lesbian weddings this past month in my church Caldwell Presbyterian in Charlotte. I am so proud they were able to marry after 30&35 years together. Much longer than many marriages.

  3. Well I am offended I didn’t make the cut. I got to an open and affirming church, belong to the Open and Affirming Task Force at my church and am a board member of PFLAG Triangle. What else do I need to do to make the list?

    1. Sorry for the typo. Should say “go to”

  4. Jose L. Alegria January 22, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    As the Associated Director for NCPride and LGBTQ Programs Coordinator at El Centro Hispano sad that I did not make the cut ether. Well in the mean time we all will keep up with the work that we all are doing.

  5. Jake Gellar-Goad January 26, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    I don’t object to the term vast, our side has always been about the people power over the money power. But I do object to the word shadowy. I’m pretty openly for equality & justice. Guess that’s why I’m on the list.

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