It’s that time of year, when the world falls in love every song you hear seems to say…

Boy am I glad this year is over.

2006 was full… chock full of issue after issue, controversy after controversy, work, work and more work.

But it was a good year, too.

So now… the top stories of 2006. They aren’t ranked in any order, they’re just listed, beginning with January 2006 all the way through December:

1. The Alternative Resources of the Triad (OutGreensboro.com)/Graffiti Ads advertising controversy
Near the end of January, and continuing through early February, news broke right here on this blog of a controversy surrounding Alternative Resources of the Triad (OutGreensboro.com), a Greensboro, NC-based LGBT organization, and its problems with an advertising company which refused to work with it because they thought their customers and viewers would be offended due to the gay nature of the organization. At the time, I was on the Board of Alternative Resources.

The story was never quite resolved, except for the fact that the Winston-Salem, NC-based Graffiti Ads continued to refuse business with the LGBT organization. After an official statement had to be made by Alternative Resources, the story finally made its way to the local press (here & here & here) and a media-frenzy ensued. In the end, or so I’m told, Graffiti Ads ended up losing some customers because of their fear of anything “too gay.” I’m sure their reputation of fearing gay business will follow them; even know, if you Google “graffiti ads winston-salem” posts regarding the anti-gay discrimination pop up. Click here for all the relevant posts.

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2. Governor’s School Turned my Son Gay & the Susan Wiseman/Winston-Salem-Forsyth County School System controversy
In February news broke of a mother of a gay high school boy, who claimed that an optional seminar at the NC Governor’s School discussing a book on gay teens made her son “choose” to “turn” homosexual. Later, another controversy which seemed to be quite separate from the Governor’s School controversy popped up: An openly lesbian teacher at East Forsyth High School, Susan Wiseman, was accused of improper sexual misconduct with a student she taught.

Later, as more information became known, the two controversies became intertwined, as it was none other than Susan Wiseman (along with high schooler Wes Nemenz, an active member of East Forsyth’s Gay-Straight Alliance) who had led the optional seminar at the Governor’s School. Wiseman, considered to be one of only a handful of openly gay teachers was, with no doubt, the only one brave enough to actively and publicly work on issues relating to the safety of LGBT students and the hostile atmospheres which high schools in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County afforded them.

Although it was clear to many, many people that Wiseman never did it and never publicly admitted to it and was never charged and never put on trial, she took the brunt force of a Board of Education all but too willing to get rid of “gay agitator” in their midst. Questions lingered in the case against Wiseman, especially considering the mysterious connection between the timing of the misconduct accusations and the revelation of the “turn my son gay” seminar at Governor’s School. John Railey, a columnist for The Winston-Salem Journal, admitted as much and left us all with a scary quote from Vic Johnson, one of the members of the Board of Education: “Being openly gay is “something that this community doesn’t approve of,’ he said. He added, ‘as long as you’re openly gay and not accused of being with any children, I think you can get away with it.'”

When Wiseman was fired by the Board of Education (a board including members who compare gays to murderers & rapists and justify their unwillingness to protect gay students with beliefs of homosexual “sin”), it took nothing more than a “recommendation” from Superintendent Don Martin (the same man who encouraged school system employees to attend a workshop at First Presbyterian Church featuring a speaker from an ex-gay ministry). The Board of Education, without discussion and without offering any questions, asking for evidence or more information, simply approved Martin’s “recommendation.”

One student told me: “I never really like W-S and now i know why. Will will this end…? It makes me feel unsafe in my own school. What can they do to be because im gay? I dont know but i dont want to find out.”

As I said then, in response to that student: “The Board of Education and the administration of the WS/FCS has handled this case completely in the wrong way. While doing so they have managed only to invoke even more fear and trembling into the hearts of LGBT teachers and students.”

Later, in December 2006, Doug Punger, the attorney who defended this anti-gay Board of Education in Winston-Salem, retired after more than 30 years of “service.”

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3. A foray into journalism
In Mid-February I made my first entrance to the world of print journalism – well… more like print opinion writing. In Massachussets In Newsweekly, I was published first online on February 8th and in print on February 16th, with my guest column, “Letter from a Red State Activist.” The column dealt with a variety of topics, comparing LGBT activism work in the South and in North Carolina to that of “liberal,” “blue state” Mass.

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4. Jerry Falwell, Liberty University, My first arrest & the Soulforce Equality Ride
On March 8th, 2006, I was introduced to the world of civil disobedience and relentless non-violent resistence to religious & political oppression by two new friends, Cris Elkins and Gene Hammond. I travelled with them to the very first stop in the very first Equality Ride: The Reverend Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. We only attempted to step onto campus and speak to students and faculty, but the moment we crossed that invisible line between public sidewalk and university campus (a.k.a. holy, non-gay ground, per edict of Falwell) the 24 of us were arrested. Throughout the remainder of the Equality Ride, I followed their actions across the country (past posts here w/ screen caps of the MTV News Special here).

Cris and Gene’s friendship would introduce me to a wonderful organization full of bright, tallented and committed youth activists. Later I’d be involved with Soulforce’s Right to Serve Campaign (official site & local Greensboro organizing site). Now, I find myself tagging along (with Blog Contributor Brandy Daniels) as a Rider in the second, larger Equality Ride this March and April, a journey I’m sure that both Brandy and I will write extensively about on this site.

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5. Straight student/gay film-maker expelled
In March, we learned of high school student Brandon Flyte. His school attempted to censor one part of his film, Brokeback High, yet he showed the film, without the censorship, anyway. For this, he was expelled. The result was a long, public and media-driven battle over students’ rights and the courage of a straight allied teen willing to stand up for education and awareness on issues affecting LGBT students.

The shot in the film for which he was censored (pictured right) was not graphic and showed only two boys in bed doing nothing but talking.

His film, which I have yet to see in its entirety, was rumored to be superb… and it taught, I’m sure, many lessons on LGBT equality and the respect and dignity we all deserve to have, regardless of our sexual orientation.

Flyte was later allowed back into the school and while the school never fully apologized, it hinted at some wrong-doing on its part.

It was, for a short time, rumored that the whole controversy was a hoax, a belief fueled by what many saw to be untruthful, “cover our asses” statements made by Flyte’s school. In the end, we knew the whole story: Flyte was punished, improperly, for resisting the improper censorship of his film and his student rights.

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6. Duke Lacrosse, Collin Finnerty & the DC, anti-gay assault
As we know find the Duke rape case coming to a close and as more and more evidence pops up that the three boys originally charged in the case are, by almost all means, innocent of any wrong-doing, I can’t help but harken back to the day when I wrote a scathing little post on the “connections of hate.”

The post dealt with Collin Finnerty’s assault of a man in Washington, D.C. and although the assault was never officially considered a hate crime, it was one (in my personal belief) motivated by or at least including some anti-gay sentiment. Then, I couldn’t help but ponder on the connections between what I saw as an anti-gay assault and what was then being cast as a rape with various undertones of racism (at the time, the “victims” and others were claiming that racist slurs and other actions were committed against them – something that may not be totally true, given that we know the “victims” probably aren’t “victims”).

I took a lot of flack for my posts on Finnerty, especially from regular blog reader JoeT. Needless to say we had a few spats, some of them public. I’ve put most of all this behind me now… and as the year comes to a close and as the three Duke students will soon find themselves free of all accusations of wrong-doing, I offer this to JoeT: I apologize for my foolishness. I still, however, stand by my assertions that where one prejudice or bigotry comes, another is (more than likely, although not always) soon to follow (the original belief which spawned my “connections of hate” post).

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7. LGBT Youth, the schools, and gay-straight alliances
This year, more than any other I think, we’ve heard a lot about gay-straight student organizations within high schools and the legal fights or public media frenzies which have often followed shortly thereafter when school boards have attempted to shut them down.

We’ve dealt with the GSA ban in the Rowan-Salisbury School System after students first organized a GSA at South Rowan High School. We’ve heard about junior Danielle Smiley in Currituck, NC. The list of student heroes and high school activists goes on and on.

Click here for past posts on Rowan-Salisbury & Currituck.

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8. LGBT college students in North Carolina & the UNC Association of Student Governments
From winding its way through a long and painful legislative process, starting at the lower levels of a committee at UNCG’s Student Senate and ending up in debate at a state-wide General Assembly meeting of The University of North Carolina System Association of Student Governments (UNCASG), LGBT students found themselves being, unsurprisingly, let down in an attempt to recognize them and protect them from discrimination.

What originally started as a one-piece addition of sexual orientation to the consitution of the UNC System’s state-wide student government (an institution funded through tax-payer monies fees collected from every one of the more than 200,000 UNC System students and connected to the UNC System’s Board of Governors), slowly turned into a resolution asking for the addition of numerous categories. The resolution, originally sponsored by me and just a few other students, was finally presented as an amendment to the UNCASG’s constitution at an April General Assembly meeting. The amendment proposed adding sexual orientation, gender-identity/expression, gender & socioeconomic status to the state group’s constitutional equal opportunity clause.

2006 marks the year in which this progressive piece of student legislation for the UNC System was shot-down by approximately 90% of the Assembly members representing over 200,000 North Carolina college students, after numerous members of the Assembly (including one student who had told me the night before that I was not equal to him due to my sexual orientation) erroneously stated that the Constitution of the State of North Carolina wouldn’t allow it.

The proposal didn’t die completely, however (Bradley Ballou, the then-Student Body President of UNC-Wilmington pushed for the proposal to be tabled until the next year) and hope lives on that it may pass this year. Although no action has been taken, the proposal is tucked neatly under the arm of the UNCASG’s head officers and has been forwarded to the General Counsel of the UNC System. Hopefully, by the end of this year (or perhaps next year), LGBT students in The University of North Carolina System will have a firm and reliable constitutional protection that might have the possibility of pushing the UNC Board of Governors into officially protecting LGBT students.

As for now… students must continue to wait, work and hope. Click here for all the past posts.

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9. Election 2006
Yeah… I’m not even going to write much about this… I’m sure you all remember it well.

Here’s just a few, key names you should remember (whether these names are good or bad… past writings will fill you in):

  • Vernon Robinson
  • Pricey Harrison
  • Brad Miller
  • Sandra Mikush
  • Buddy Collins
  • Jeannie Metcalf

See Q-vote 2006 for all the coverage that was.

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10. The Soulforce Right to Serve Campaign
In the fall of 2006, LGBT and straight allied youth across the entire nation geared up to take part in what was to be the very first organized, national movement bringing attention to the discriminatory, anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of the United States Military.

In Greensboro, NC, I led the way as a City Organizer, assisted by my good friend Kimberly Krieg, national organizer Katie Higgins and participants Stacey Booe, Jessica Arvidson, Jackie Hernandez, Caitlin Stroud, Cris Elkins, Alex Barbato, Alex Nini, and Danielle Hoffman.

On September 21, 2006, four openly gay youth in Greensboro, NC, walked into the Army Recruiting Center, told the recruiter they wanted to enlist, while being completely honest about themselves. They were willing to serve their country, but they weren’t willing to lie and live in hiding and secrecy in order to do it.

In the end, nine persons were arrested that day, after sitting-in for the right to serve without discrimination based upon who they are as American citizens. We were charged with trespassing. In November 2006, we were given a deferred prosecution, with all charges being dropped after 90 days, given that no one return to the recruiting center or break any other laws.

The Right to Serve Campaign, which was endorsed by the national Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and named as number 5 on its list of the Top Ten “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” stories of 2006, brought the issue of government-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT Americans home to millions. Now, as we enter 2007, we are the closest we’ve ever been to seeing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy rescinded and replaced with one which will offer all American citizens, no matter their sexual orientation, the rightful respect and dignity they deserve.

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So… That’s it… Your year-end recap and top stories of 2006 from InterstateQ. I’m sure there have been many, many other huge stories and issues covered: The LGBT Center at NC State University, the “outing” of Representative Patrick McHenry (or, at least, the outing of the rumors of his gayness), Lance Bass & the HRC, the anti-gay ‘gay=pedophile’ Guilford County Republican Party Chairman, the establishment of my political action committee, the Thomasville & Davidson County anti-gay marriage resolution, the ex-gays, Ignite Student Outreach & Exodus International, LGBT youth homelessness and Gay Jesus.

For sake of time and sanity… I think I’ll stop. If I were to name all of the “top stories” I think I might go crazy (or, at least, without sleep for a night or two).

Do you have any more? Were there any stories that just spoke to you or stand out to you?

The archives are, always, open for permanent viewing. Looking into the past is always a good thing. You can learn a lot from the past. Reviewing each year as it comes to a close and a new one starts is always a great way to figure out where you are and how you’ve gotten here.

I thank ALL OF YOU who have become regular readers and commenters at the blog. Your support, your comments, your knowledge, your sometimes serious and sometimes hilarious shots at the expense of my pride (haha) have all been wonderful, exciting, humbling and memorable.

So… Cheers! To a bright, new and exciting 2007 to come!

Here are the results for the candidates that I “endorsed” in Q-vote 2006, a blog project I started back before the primary in the Summer:

Mike Nelson, Democrat, Orange County Commissioner – Nelson easily won election to the Orange County Board of Commissioners. A former mayor of Carrboro, NC, Nelson is one of just a few openly gay elected officials in North Carolina.

Congressman Brad Miller, 13th District – Congressman Miller won easily, as expected, against the extreme, right-wing, anti-gay Vernon Robinson, former Winston-Salem City Council member.

Roger Sharpe, 5th Congressional District – Sharpe, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, lost in his bid to take the 5th Congressional seat. Although he lost, it must be noted that Sharpe didn’t walk away with little support. Approximately 71,000 people voted for him, whereas only approximately 95,000 voted for Foxx.

Representative Pricey Harrison, NC House 57 – Representative Harrison won, hands down, against her Republican challenger Ron Styers. Representative Harrison will enter her second term in the NC House.

Sandra Mikush, W-S/Forsyth School Board – Mikush did not win in her unaffiliated bid for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education. In a message to supporters the day after the election, Mikush stressed the successes in spite of the losses, including the fact that 1 in 3 voters voted for her. Mikush says she will continue to be a strong advocate and voice for children and looks forward to working with Democratic-newcomer Elisabeth Motsinger.

Elisabeth Motsinger, W-S/Forsyth School Board – Motsinger, a Democrat, will join the School Board replacing Republican incumbent Lynn Thrower. I’m extremely happy that Motsinger is now on the Board and that LGBT students will now have a voice they haven’t had in at least 10 years.

Berkley Blanks, Guilford County Sheriff – Blanks, a Democrat who had been outspoken on supporting LGBT citizens, lost his bid for Guilford County Sheriff. Republican incumbent BJ Barnes (who is also supportive of LGBT citizens) won with 35% of the vote.

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Results: LGBT Candidates

A long list of LGBT candidates either won re-election or their first election last night.

In North Carolina, State Senator Julia Boseman (D-New Hanover), the first openly gay member of the NC State Legislature, won re-election against Al Roseman. According to an article from WECT TV6, Senator Boseman led Roseman by 11,000 or so votes.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund released a statement last night on the LGBT candidates they backed in this election (h/t Pam):

“This is the tipping point election for openly gay candidates,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund. “We’re proving that qualified, well-prepared candidates matched with committed donors means gays and lesbians can move from having a stake in policy to actually making policy. There’s no reason to sit on the sidelines with our fingers crossed anymore.”

10 Key victories in 2006:

–Patricia Todd, who will represent District 54 in the Alabama State House. Todd is the first openly gay person ever elected to any office in the state.

–Kathy Webb, who will represent District 37 in the Arkansas State House. Webb is the first openly gay person ever elected to any office in the state.

–Henry Fernandez, who won a seat on the Lawrence Township School Board, making him the first openly gay person ever elected to any office in Indiana.

–Al McAffrey, who will represent District 88 in the Oklahoma State House. McAffrey is the first openly gay person ever elected to the Oklahoma state legislature.

–Jolie Justus, who will represent District 10 in the Missouri State Senate. Justus is the first openly gay state senator in Missouri history.

–Ed Murray, who will represent District 43 in the Washington State Senate. Murray, a former state representative, is the first openly gay state senator in Washington history.

–Matt McCoy, who becomes the first openly gay candidate ever elected to the Iowa legislature. McCoy, a sitting state senator, came out during his last term.

–Ken Keechl, who won a seat on the Broward County Commission in Florida, beating an appointee of Gov. Jeb Bush.

–Jamie Pedersen, who becomes the third consecutive openly gay person to be elected to represent District 43 in the Washington State House.

–Judge Virginia Linder will join Rives Kistler on the Oregon Supreme Court, making it the first state ever to have two openly gay Supreme Court Justices, according to preliminary results.

Key Statistics About Victory-Endorsed Candidates in 2006

Total Victory-endorsed candidates: 88 (55 non-incumbents, 33 incumbents)

Total Victory-endorsed winners: 67

Total Victory-endorsed winners running as openly LGBT for the first time: 36

Percent of Victory Fund bundled money spent on non-incumbent candidates: 80%

Percent of Victory Fund PAC money spent on non-incumbent candidates: 91%

States that elected their first-ever openly LGBT officials: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana

States that elected their first-ever openly LGBT state legislators: Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma

7 States that still have no openly LGBT elected officials at any level of government: Alaska, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia

13 additional states that still have no openly LGBT state legislators: Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wyoming

Nationally, Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass) and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc) easily won re-election into the House.

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Log Cabin slams social conservatives

The Log Cabin Republicans have released a heavy-handed, tough-talking Election night statement directed toward social conservatives (read: “homophobes” and “bigots”).

It’s a good read:

Log Cabin Republicans blast social conservatives for causing defeat in House
“Republicans lost this election because independent voters abandoned the GOP,” said Log Cabin Executive Vice President Patrick Sammon. “Social conservatives drove the GOP’s agenda the last several years. Their divisive agenda alienated the mainstream Republicans and independents who determined this election’s outcome. Social conservatives should take responsibility for this loss.”

“Democrats didn’t win because of anything they stood for. They won because of Republican mistakes,” said Sammon. “GOP leaders lost sight of what brought our Party to power in 1994. Limited government, lower spending, high ethical standards and accountability, and other unifying GOP principles attracted a broad coalition of support including fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, mainstream Republicans, libertarians, and independents. Now we’ve lost the U.S. House because Party leaders turned their backs on the GOP’s core principles and catered only to social conservatives.”

Catch the whole thing here

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Results: Man-on-Dog Santorum out

Senator Rick Santorum, one of the most bigoted, hate-filled Republican in the Senate, lost his job tonight.

Awww… I should cry. NOT!

I’m glad he’ll be gone. No more of being compared to pedophiles. No more of comparing my private, sexual life with bestiality or incest. No more of demonizing LGBT people for his own pitiful, bound-to-fail (no… make that “it did fail”) political gain (or not-gain, rather).

Thank you Pennsylvania.

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Results: Arizona rejects anti-gay amendment

In the Marriage and Domestic Partnerships results post, Arizona was noted as most likely defeating an anti-gay marriage amendment.

Now (h/t Pam), with information from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office it is pretty safe to say that Arizona has become the FIRST STATE to REJECT an anti-gay Constitutional amendment!

Click the image above to see the results screen-capped at approximately 3:00am or click here to view most up-to-date results.

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Results: Marriage & Domestic Partnerships

Eight states voted on Constitutional amendments to ban marriage for same-sex couples: Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Arizona, South Dakota, Idaho and Colorado. One state, Colorado, also had a ballot measure asking approval for a domestic partner registry.

UPDATE; November 8, 11:00am, From the Washington Blade: Seven States Pass Marriage Bans

The following are the results of anti-gay marriage amendments and the Colorado DP measure (via Advocate.com, as of 12:15am, 11/8/06):

Prosposed state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage and, in some instances, all legal recognition of unmarried couples

Arizona, Proposition 107
Yes: 48%
No: 52%
(74% of precincts reporting)

Colorado, Amendment 43
Yes: 58%
No: 42%
(22% of precincts reporting)

Idaho, Amendment 2
Yes: 70%
No: 30%
(8% of precincts reporting)

South Carolina, Amendment 1
Yes: 78%
No: 22%
(96% of precincts reporting)

South Dakota, Amendment C
Yes: 51%
No: 49%
(52% precincts reporting)

Tennessee, Amendment 1
Yes: 81%
No: 19%
(87% of precincts reporting)

Virginia, Amendment 1
Yes: 57%
No: 43%
(99% of precincts reporting)

Wisconsin, Question 1
Yes: 58%
No: 42%
(45% precincts reporting)

State referendums that would provide legal recognition to same-sex couples

Colorado, Referendum I: Domestic Partnership
Yes: 45%
No: 55%
(22% of precincts reporting)

An Associated Press article posted by the Washington Blade has called the results in four of the states: The amendments have passed in Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Every Southern state with the sole exception of North Carolina now has a Constitutional amendment banning marriage by same-sex couples.

Some of these amendments, including Virginia (which is one of the worst amendments) bans all possible legal recognition of the relationships of LGBT people and their families, including wills and power-of-attorney agreements.

Virginia’s Governor, Tim Kaine (a Democrat), had publicly voiced his opposition to the amendment. While I’m upset Virginia passed such an amendment, I look at the results (57%-43%) and I realize that it could have been so, so much worse. I told a friend and fellow young activist a while back that the fact that this amendment would eventually pass was already known months ago. A victory, of some sorts, has happened in Virginia. Almost half of Virginians did not vote for discrimination; that isn’t a loss and it should be celebrated.

The lone success on marriage issues in this election cycle may come from Arizona, where those voting against the anti-gay amendment currently outweigh those voting for it.

THESE RESULTS WILL BE UPDATED AS SOON AS MORE INFORMATION IS KNOWN.

UPDATE, 3:30am, 11/8/06: With the exception of Arizona (see Arizona rejects anti-gay marriage amendment), CNN has forecasted the marriage amendments in each of the 7 other states have passed. CNN has also projected that the Colorado DP measure has failed.

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Results: NC Congressional Races

The following are the results for the Congressional races in North Carolina:

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 01
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
G. K. Butterfield DEM 82,570

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 02
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Bob Etheridge DEM 76,804
Dan Mansell REP 40,436

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 03
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Walter B. Jones REP 98,546
Craig Weber DEM 44,330

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 04
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
David Price DEM 125,166
Steve Acuff REP 67,609

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 05
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Virginia Foxx REP 95,466
Roger Sharpe DEM 71,499

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 06
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Howard Coble REP 107,325
Rory Blake DEM 44,187

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 07
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Mike McIntyre DEM 92,928
Shirley Davis REP 33,630

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 08
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Robert C. (Robin) Hayes REP 44,585
Larry Kissell DEM 40,394

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 09
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Sue Myrick REP 43,464
Bill Glass DEM 15,627

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 10
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Patrick McHenry REP 93,259
Richard Carsner DEM 57,398

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 11
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Heath Shuler DEM 123,156
Charles H. Taylor REP 105,935

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 12
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Mel Watt DEM 44,896
Ada M. Fisher REP 26,704

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 13
Name on Ballot Party Ballot Count
Brad Miller DEM 96,892
Vernon Robinson REP 55,324

So… What’s up? The best possible news in the races for the North Carolina Congressional delegation is two-fold: Vernon Robinson’s evil, anti-gay, bigoted and hateful rhetoric has been trashed by North Carolinians once again (for like the [I’ve lost count]th time) and North Carolina has picked up one more Democrat in its delegation to Congress; Heath Shuler has beat out another anti-gay Republican, Charles Taylor.

Although the Democrats in our delegation do tend to be more conservative on LGBT issues, they (with the exception of a couple here and there) are not willing to sponsor or vote for legislation which would be harmful to LGBT citizens.

Seven of our thirteen Congressional representatives are Democrats, a majority in our Congressional delegation.

Here’s my bit on Congressman Brad Miller (13th District) from my Election Day edition of my Carolinian column:

A vote for Congressman Brad Miller (13th District) is another vote I wish I could cast. Congressman Miller was the only representative from North Carolina’s Congressional delegation who co-sponsored a bill which would repeal the harmful and discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and another which would recognize the long-time, committed relationships of cross-national same-sex couples for immigration purposes, similar to what cross-national opposite-sex couples achieve with a marriage visa. Congressman Brad Miller received a score of 100 in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2006 Congressional Scorecard.

It is good to know our delegation is in good Democratic hands (again, minues a couple of them here and there).

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Results: Winston/Forsyth Board of Education

The results of in the races for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education are extremely upsetting and did not turn out as I would have hoped.

The candidate I personally backed the most, Sandra Mikush, did not win. Mikush ran as an unaffiliated candidate marking her belief that the needs of children and our schools should not be played out in partisan politics. She ran in the At-large category and received the smallest amount of votes.

However, looking at Mikush’s performance as an unaffiliated candidate (she received more than 24,000 votes) shows us that there are a great many Winston-Salem/Forsyth County citizens who agree with her and her stance on a non-partisan Board of Education.

The Results of the WS/FC Board of Education is as follows (winners in red with * noting incumbency):

Name (party) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Votes . . Percent
SCHOOL BOARD – AT LARGE
(WITH 104 OF 104 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
Elisabeth Motsinger (DEM) . . . . . 33,728 . . 18.18
Irene Phillips (DEM). . . . . . . . . . 29,390 . . 15.84
A. L. (Buddy) Collins (REP) . . . . . 31,639 . . 17.05 *
Donny C. Lambeth (REP) . . . . . . 35,311 . . 19.03 *
Lynn S. Thrower (REP) . . . . . . . . 31,169 . . 16.80 *
Sandra Mikush (UNA) . . . . . . . . . 24,315 . . 13.10

SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICT 1
(WITH 35 OF 35 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
Geneva B. Brown (DEM) . . . . . . . 10,907 . . 44.63 *
Vic Johnson (DEM). . . . . . . . . . . 9,985 . . 40.86 *

Diana Williams-Cotton (REP) . . . . 3,548 . . 14.52

SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICT 2
(WITH 72 OF 72 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
Donald Dunn (DEM). . . . . . . . 23,348 . . 12.95
Ross K. Smith (DEM) . . . . . . . 23,524 . . 13.04
Jane D. Goins (REP) . . . . . . . . 30,164 . . 16.73 *
Jeannie A. Metcalf (REP) . . . . . 33,779 . . 18.73 *
Marilyn A. Parker (REP). . . . . . 34,253 . . 18.99 *
Jill A. Tackabery (REP). . . . . . 35,269 . . 19.56 *

So what does all this mean? I’ll tell you. The WS/FC Board of Education as one less Republican and one more Democrat. This brings the total balance to 6 Republicans vs. 3 Democrats.

The new Board member, Democrat Elisabeth Motsinger, has been outspoken on her support of including protections for LGBT students and on her general, overall support for the safety, well-being and acceptance of LGBT students in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Jeannie Metcalf, Buddy Collins and Donny Lambeth have retained their seats on the Board. These members were, to the best of my memory, the ones who stood most in the way of protecting LGBT students in my time as a student and in my time working for LGBT inclusion and safety.

In my Election Day edition of my Carolinian column, I included a bit on the Board of Education:

In my opinion, one of the most important races over in Winston-Salem (listen up you Winston-Salem commuter students!) is the race for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education. I spent 13 years (including Kindergarten, of course) in this school system. The last five were a living hell. The current Board of Education has consistently shown their unwillingness to step up and do the right thing in protecting the safety and well-being of LGBT students. Time after time, members of the Board of Education have used their religious beliefs to justify their decisions in keeping questions on anti-gay bullying out of school climate surveys and in ignoring requests to add sexual orientation and gender-identity to the system non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. As a teenager in high school, long-time Republican incumbents such as Buddy Collins, Jeannie Metcalf and Donny Lambeth told me that my protection from harassment and harm wasn’t important, necessary or justified. Jeannie Metcalf even went as far as to compare people like me to rapists and murderers, saying sinners shouldn’t be protected.

I’m lucky to know that the Board of Education might just get a face-lift. Sandra Mikush, the mother of a friend from my high school’s choral program, is running as an un-affiliated candidate. She believes school board races should be non-partisan and that party politics should not play into what is best for our children. Mikush understands why schools should be safe and equitable for all. I’m glad I’ll be casting my vote for her.

Another candidate in the Board of Election race is Elisabeth Motsinger, who also understands the importance of protecting all children, no matter her personal beliefs on sin or religion. Motsinger’s campaign has made it clear: All students, regardless of sexual orientation, deserve a safe school climate for learning and growing.

LGBT students, LGBT parents, parents of LGBT students and friends of LGBT students and parents can expect more of the same anti-gay rhetoric and holding off on protecting students from the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education.

I didn’t vote for many of the incumbents on the Board (in fact, I only voted for one, Jill Tackabery). If any of the incumbents, especially Collins or Metcalf, came to me and asked me why they didn’t get my vote, the answer would be quite simple:

When I look back on my days in middle and high school… When I think back on all the great memories I hold so dear… When I think about my high school graduation… When I think about anything related to the years I spent growing up in Winston-Salem schools, there is not a single time when I do not also remember your horrible and indefensible words and stances which placed me and students like me squarely in the scope of your harsh and un-loving “Christian” morals. Along with all the great times and great memories, I also remember the pain and you did nothing to help it or solve it. You do not deserve my vote and my younger siblings and cousins deserve better leadership from their Board of Education – a leadership which will place their bigoted, hateful ideologies to the side just long enough to see the pain and hurting of children and to do something to stop it.

Congrats to Ms. Motsinger.

To Mrs. Mikush: You did an awesome job. Don’t let that fair and educated voice for ALL students die. Keep on chuggin’ and try again next time.

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3

Results: North Carolina House & Senate

An article from the Raleigh News & Observer, timed at 12:49am November 8, 2006, has the Democrats hoping to make for themselves a solid majority in both the North Carolina House and Senate. The article says that the Democrats had hoped to pick up a 31-19 majority in the Senate and a 71-49 majority in the House
While Speaker Jim Black is barely winning by 7 votes in Mecklenburg County (100th House District), good news is bounding for Democrats.

Results from the Raleigh News & Observer (front page election graphic, approx. 1:52am, 11/8):
In the Senate, the Democrats will hold a 29-19 majority.
In the House, the Democrats will hold a 67-52 majority.

Representative Pricey Harrison (NC House 57) staved off her Republican challenger Ron Styers. Representative Alma Adams (NC House 58) won against her Republican challenger Olga Morgan Wright. Representative Maggie Jeffus (NC House 59) won against Republican Jim Rumley.

Representatives Harrison and Jeffus’ wins will continue to ensure the protection and safety of LGBT citizens. Congratulations go to them and thanks also, for their support of LGBT North Carolinians.

In my Election Day edition of my Carolinian column, I included a bit on Representative Harrison:

Pricey Harrison, the North Carolina House Representative for District 57, is candidate more than deserving of my vote, but since I’m registered to vote in Winston-Salem (I’m a commuter student, of course), I will not be able to cast my vote for her or for other well-deserving candidates in Greensboro.

Representative Harrison’s record in Raleigh is solid. She was successful in increasing the funds allotted to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. She was also a sponsor of a bill which would include age, gender, disability and sexual orientation into our state’s Ethnic Intimidation Act, North Carolina’s version of hate crimes legislation.

In the community, Representative Harrison has been publicly supportive and outspoken on issues affecting all North Carolinians, including the LGBT community. Her advocacy and care for LGBT people and the issues which are important to them has been a breath of fresh air in a state government where LGBT people are usually ignored and only sometimes tolerated. Representative Harrison is in a small class of state legislators who truly understand that when we talk of equality for all we must be willing to give it to all, regardless of sexual orientation.

North Carolina will remain, for at least a couple more years, the ONLY SOUTHERN STATE without a Constitutional amendment banning marriage for same-sex couples and institutionalizing discrimination against LGBT citizens.

Tennessee, Virginia and South Carolina amendments passed.

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