Charlotte-area Republican Thom Tillis, who represents Cornelius, was chosen by fellow GOP House members Saturday to become the next speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives.

New GOP House leadership (l-r): Thom Tillis, speaker; Skip Stam, majority leader; Dale Folwell, speaker pro tem.

Meeting in Raleigh, the GOP caucus considered several candidates including Tillis and Wake County’s Skip Stam. The former House minority leader, Stam was regularly outspoken on LGBT issues and pushed hard for the anti-gay marriage amendment. He also stood firmly opposed to 2009’s School Violence Prevention Act and Healthy Youth Act. Those bills added LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policies to every school district in the state and provided for comprehensive, abstinence-based sex education, respectively.

“We went (into the leadership election) unified, we came out unified, and I have every reason to believe that’s why we’re going into the legislative session and make history,” Tillis said after the vote, according to The Charlotte Observer.

Stam will serve next session as House majority leader. Winston-Salem’s Dale Folwell was chosen as speaker pro tem. The House will undertake formal votes when it returns in January. The North Carolina House is controlled by Republicans 68-52.

Come January, North Carolina’s LGBT community could face the most significant threats it’s ever seen. Several long-serving Republican legislators have pushed annually for an anti-gay, state constitutional amendment on marriage. That bill has been held up in committee for seven years, with former Democratic leadership unwilling to give it a hearing. With Democrats out of the way, GOP House or Senate members might decide to bring it to the floor.

Hopes are high that Tillis, who is praised even by Democrats for his level-headedness and bi-partisanship, will focus largely on economic recovery, job growth and state budget matters.

In a report this week by FOX Charlotte, however, Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R-Mecklenburg) said she foresees the amendment coming to a vote.

“There probably will be legislation that has been held up in the past that will finally see the light of day,” she told the news station. “After we deal with the budget, and after we deal with redistricting, anything that has 70 percent or more of NC’s citizens in support of it will probably get some attention.”

A 2009 poll by Elon University of 620 North Carolina state residents found 43 percent of respondents opposed such an amendment to the constitution.

Some House Republicans, including Stam, have also said they intend on seeking repeal of the School Violence Prevention Act and Healthy Youth Act.

At their annual conference on Nov. 13, Equality North Carolina’s Ian Palmquist said new GOP legislative leadership provides for new opportunities for outreach. He said the state could spend as much as $5 million to place the amendment question on the ballot. He hopes his group can appeal to fiscal conservatives within the GOP who might be uncomfortable spending that kind of money in such a tight economic climate. The state faces at least a $3 billion budget shortfall next year.

Equality NC has also spent years building relationships with GOP lawmakers and constituents. A former executive director of the group identifies as a Republican, and the current Equality NC Board chair, Dan Gurley, is a former executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party. Some outreach has already begun with potential GOP House and Senate leaders, some of whom are stressing economic improvement over social policy.

Matt Comer

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

8 replies on “‘Level-headed’ Tillis chosen next N.C. speaker”

  1. so what will the community do, beside hold a bunch of fund raisers.. and expensive dinners (hrc).. I have to wonder what NC4Marriage and Focus on Family will be doing, maybe another February Rally in Raleigh, which our leaders won’t want us to protest.. Like last time, they were bused in and walked all over us, because our so-called leaders, local bloggers and LGBT paper didn’t demean they a problem, MMM now the world has turned, now this year they just might get their wish. I heard the one group (anti-gay) has tens of millions of dollars that will soon be pouring into Raleigh to get a anti-marriage amendment on the ballot.. Face it we laid around and didn’t do jack and now it may be too late. We need better leadership in Raleigh and leave the fruit loops at home.

  2. jat (aka SNT):

    Your rantings are illogical, lacking in substance, poorly researched and an embarrassment to read. Please save the community you purport to wish to help the embarrassment and quit typing.

    Defeating an amendment in the legislature every year for the past seven years is not “laying around” or “not doing jack.” Every poll at the state and national level shows increased support for marriage equality as more and more time passes. Therefore, should an amendment actually be put to the ballot one day, the strategy of delay which has been successfully achieved in NC logically increases the chances of beating a ballot measure — not to speak of beating it on a floor or committee vote.

    Of course, as Arizona showed us, merely defeating an amendment on a ballot doesn’t mean that the bigots won’t try again two years later.

    The rallies by the bussed-in-bigots were of no consequence in Raleigh as evidenced by the failure of the bussed-in-bigots to be able to move their issue and the continued erosion of their issue position in the previously mentioned polling.

    You should more than pleased with your leadership in Raleigh. It is the envy of many other states — particularly in the South. The record of tangible accomplishments for the past several years (better HIV funding year after year, amendment blocked, hospital visitation, UNC system conduct policy, School Violence Prevention Act, Healthy Youth Act, etc.) demonstrates how effective that leadership has been — despite being “outrallied” and outspent by opposing groups.

    The next time you choose to broadcast your opinion, bring some evidence to back it up.

  3. that fact is we did nothing about nc4m because the local equality didn’t want us to, they wanted us to attend the day of action, with many of the nc4m people did too. Not one gay or lesbian couple has ever challenge the marriage law, WHY???

    Yes they manage to keep from coming to a vote, bet I bet your sorry butt that it will make it to floor very soon..

    sure they did a lot on other issue,and making us look like a laughing stock over the fruitloop campaign. Yet not one challenge on the marriage law, WHY WHY please with all your so call mighty insight tell me why.

  4. You don’t challenge a law unless you think you have a real shot at winning in the terminal (highest) court.

    If you had done any research, you would know that we’re waiting on an adoption ruling from the NC Supreme Court. That ruling could tell us something about the justices’ current positions on matters of equality.

    If you had done any research, you would know that a GOP-majority has existed on the NC Supreme Court for many years now.

    If you had done any research, you would know that even when a Democratic-majority NC Supreme Court existed, it wasn’t the best on LGBT issues. I’ll let you do the simple task of using Google to find that case.

    If you had any real awareness, you would have noticed that the leadership in Raleigh has been trying to get a pro-equality majority at the Appellate Court level (Court of Appeals and Supreme Court) for several election cycles.

    If you had any real awareness, you would know that speaking with legislators face-to-face (like at a Lobby Day) has much more impact on these issues, than a rally that is easily ignored — espcially when no one from the rally takes those few steps from the outside of the building to the inside where the impact will be felt even more.

    I’m not providing any new information here. This information has been publicly available for years, and it still is available for anyone that chooses to do the work to find it.

  5. and these of my thought and opinion.. So we don’t try unless we know we will win. MMMM so we don’t try at all then.

    GOP or DEM they are the same, the only diff is that GOP tells you to your face that they hate you, while the DEM do it behind your back while taking your money. However I guess we will have to wait and see what will happen next year.

    However I’m sure that NOM, NC4M and Focus on the Family have already started pouring money in to NC to get these wins, over turn and get that amendment on the ballot…

  6. Once again you make little sense.

    Further, you incorrectly paraphrase my assertion about court tactics. I didn’t say you have to know you’ll win. I said you should think you have a real shot at it.

    But why does a court case matter anyway? If an amendment passes, then the case is moot.

    Your fixation on filing a court case is nonsense, unless you propose to take it from state court to federal court.

    Of course, those federal cases are already on their way in multiple jurisdictions. So again, filing a case in NC is wasted resources.

    And I’m not sure what opposing money has to do with anything. That’s not new either.

    Best of luck with trying to come up with a coherent point.

  7. I’m going to end this flame war over this issue here, however it will go on. Since I’m sure I know who this really is…

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