Cross-post from UNCG Campus Watch

Seal of The University of North Carolina SystemThe Constitution of the State of North Carolina guarantees the General Assembly will provide that “the benefits of The University of North Carolina… as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense” (Article IX, Sec 9). With the counting of out-of-state athletes as in-state students, the General Assembly is starting to turn its back on the very people for whom the University was originally established in 1789.

Back in December 2006, I originally wrote about the issue of out-of-state athletes receiving in-state status on mine and Ryan’s old blog project. The issue has crept back up again, as I saw in an editorial from the Winston-Salem Journal this morning. A search on Google News also yielded another editorial from the Wilmington Star. I also found a similar editorial from the Asheville Citizen-Times, via the website of the UNC System’s Association of Student Governments (UNCASG). A letter to the editor of the Raleigh News & Observer, also from the UNCASG website, shares some of the same feelings espoused in the editorials.

For those of you who are unaware of the circumstances here, let me fill you in: Last year, the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina decided it would be a good idea to provide in-state status to out-of-state students coming to UNC System schools to perform in our athletic programs. The change in law and procedure also provided for athletic scholarships, a move that will cost the taxpayers, the People of the State, $3.4 million or more each year.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal editorial, the total cost to the People of the State will peak at about $20 million annually over the next several years, due to the scholarships’ phase-in implementation. The Journal staff goes on to correctly and honestly point out: “That will be $20 million less each year that the state can spend on public-school children or for North Carolina students who attend UNC schools.”

Although the UNC System Board of Governors opposed the change, the General Assembly went ahead with their plan to stiff the People (as well as the children and youth) of our State.

A large push for the change in law came from a political action committee (PAC) largely associated with the UNC System’s larger, more well-known (and financially stable) institutions of higher education: Our first UNC campus – UNC-Chapel Hill – and our second campus – NC State. The PAC, known as the Citizens for Higher Education PAC, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on North Carolina legislators pushing hard for the change in out-of-state status for out-of-state students performing in athletic programs.

These athletic boosters (the largest make-up of the “Citizens for Higher Education” PAC) claim that this money and scholarship program is needed to keep our UNC campuses competitive on the playing fields.

All of the editorials, as well as the letter to the editor, I mentioned are brave, honest and sane enough to admit the ridiculous-ness of this move.

The University of North Carolina is a public institution whose establishment and continuance is guaranteed by the Constitution of the State. The Constitution also guarantees that education in North Carolina for North Carolinians is not only a privilege, but also a right.

The $20 million per year which will be used to pay for out-of-state students would be better used to help poor and less advantaged North Carolinians gain access to the benefits of The University of North Carolina. After all, the Constitution does say that the General Assembly will provide these benefits to the People – meaning the citizens of the State of North Carolina.

North Carolinians should not be shelling out millions upon millions of taxpayer monies to provide for the education of out-of-state students (read: NOT the People of THIS State).

The General Assembly needs to re-think what they have done and re-think where their priorities stand. If Speaker Black (who received almost $35,000 from that PAC) and other legislators refuse to re-think their decisions and continue to side with rich, athletic boosters with loyalties only to Chapel Hill and State, then the rest of us (you know… The People, as well as the students) might have to re-think our support for your campaigns and election.

The General Assembly has evidently lost their focus on upholding the principles which have made North Carolina great, including the principle that this State will provide for the education of its citizens.

They’ve turned their backs on the People. Maybe it is time the People turn their backs on them.

This post is cross-posted from its original location at UNCG Campus Watch and was written by me. UNCG Campus Watch is a new blog project aimed at keeping tabs on the UNCG’s Student Government, campus news and opinions, as well as larger, state-wide actions which affect the students of The University of North Carolina. Learn more at http://uncgcampuswatch.blogspot.com

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An ungodly act: Parents with no love

I don’t usually do international news or blog on topics from around the world (unless it is either extremely disturbing, very important or somehow connected to the Episcopal/Anglican Church), but I felt I needed to post and discuss this one.

According to an article from 365gay.com News (see also an article from South Africa), the eldest son of a former royal family in India has been disowned and stripped of his title, rights and inheritance because he publicly acknowledged his sexual orientation.

Prince Manvendrasinh Gohil came out to his family in 2002, but only recently did he publicly acknowledge it. The prince is the patron of his region’s largest HIV/AIDS organizations. His family once governed the state of Rajpipla in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

According to the 365gay.com News article:

His family, one of the richest in India, this week placed an official announcement in local papers accusing him of disobedience and of bringing dishonor to the royal family.

The announcement said that Prince Manvendra was involved in activities that are “unsuitable in society” and said that the family was severing all ties with him.

In an interview with The Times of India the prince said that he was not altogether surprised.

He told the paper that he had come out to his family in 2002. “However, they may not have expected that I would go public with the issue.”

“I did so by giving an interview that was carried prominently. I also said gay relationships were not uncommon in royal families. This, along with my recent interviews regarding a documentary film on gay relationships, seems to have prompted the action,” he told The Times of India.

=======
Okay… here’s the deal. An LGBT child comes out to his family. Family says “OK” but don’t tell anyone else. Child tells the world… Family becomes no longer family, but strangers (and perhaps, enemies).

It is a story that plays out across the world, even here in America. Many LGBT teens and even older youth and adults who come out to their families risk losing it all. What could be worse than losing the ones closest to you? The ones who raised you? The father who cared and provided for you? The mother you carried you to term and gave birth to you? What a horrible thing to think of… and the sad part is that it is an all-to-real phenomena.

I sometimes wonder how much hate it takes for a mother and/or father to disown their child? How could a parent be so hateful, so unloving… toward their very own child?!

Who gives a rat’s rear end who your child loves or sleeps with… IT IS YOUR KID FOR GOD’S SAKE! Who do think God is going to look more unfavorably on… the gay kid or the parents who couldn’t show any love whatsoever?

I got home last night after the State Democratic Convention meaning to put up a post on the Convention, but site was down. I knew it was going to happen. Sue and the web company were doing updates and some maintenance to the server.

The North Carolina State Democratic Covention, held down in High Point, was awesome. Being the legislative, law and procedural geek I am, I just loved watching the proceedings of adopting the platform and resolutions. I loved the debate and I digested as much as I could.

I also loved the Sanford-Hunt Dinner, made in honor of the late Governor (and Senator and Duke President, lol) Terry Sanford and Governor Jim Hunt. There were some awesome speakers at the Dinner, as well as some great film clips from the old days (and some old campaign songs, too!). Over at BlueNC.com, one commenter has jokingly commented: “Hunt for Senate ’08!” I couldn’t agree more. I’m a bit young to remember much from Gov. Hunt or his administration of the state, but I did get see him speak last night. If there is any one Democrat in this ENTIRE STATE who is able to pump up a crowd, give an awesome speech and empower (as well as win over all those Reagan Democrats turned Republican)… it is Gov. Hunt. If he would run for Senate… He would win, hands down.

During the actual Convention, however, there were a couple of times I wanted to speak out on some issues, but I kind of figured I couldn’t seeing as though I was not a delegate. At one point I thought I might go up to the microphone and say something like, “If it would please the Chair, a non-delegate would like to address the Convention.” I’m glad I didn’t though… State Chair Jerry Meek told me later he couldn’t have let me speak anyway.

There were primarily two issues I wanted to speak on. The first was an issue already included in debate for the Convention. A resolution had been sent from the platform and resolutions committee calling for the end to free tuition grants to any UNC System School for any NC School of Science and Mathematics graduate.

Here are the operative clauses (the “Resolved statements”) of Resolution 45. “For Repeal of Tuition Grants to Graduates of the NC School of Science and Mathematics”:

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Democratic Party of North Carolins go on record as supporting the repeal to tuition grants to graduates of the North Carolina School of Science and Math; and be it futher

RESOLVED that the Democratic Party of North Carolina fully support free tuition in the form of merit grants to high school students; however, they should be awarded on the basis of merit and not on the basis of the school the student attends; and bit finally

RESOLVED that this resolution be forwarded to the Democratic State Convention with a recommendation for its adoption by that body.

Although there was much debate on the resolution (including some very biased remarks against the resolution from a recent NCSSM graduate), the resolution did pass. THANK GOD.

During the debate (when I thought the resolution might fail) I wanted to stand up and remind the Convention, as a student of the UNC System, that the North Carolina Constitution, in Article IX, Section IX, states:

The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.

Because of that Constitutional guarantee, I feel as though giving free tuition grants to all the graduates of only one high school in the entire state is wrong and discriminatory toward other North Carolina high school students. The State Constitution guarantees that the benefits of UNC schools shall be free to “the people,” not just the people of NCSSM.

The second issue I wanted to speak on, as well as being an issue a friend of mine wanted to address also, was the fact that NOT ONE resolution or other action at the Convention dealt with or included issues relevant to LGBT North Carolinians.

No resolution in support of marriage equality (even if it would have gotten voted down), no resolution in support of civil unions (that one would have had a better chance of passing), no resolution condemning the misguided legislative efforts of those proposing discriminatory state and federal constitutional amendments, no resolution encouraging the state to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination codes for employment. I could go on and on with a list of things the Convention could have, and should have, included in its very long list of resolutions.

I wish I had known earlier about the chance to submit resolutions to the Convention earlier this year. I would have done it. I would have made sure that the Convention included at least one resolution dealing with issues important to LGBT North Carolinians. I get so frustrated by the Democratic Party sometimes. Many in the Party are more than willing to come to LGBT organizations and the LGBT community and tell us how much they are on our side and take our money for the campaigns… BUT… once they are asked to actually stand up for us and, in simple terms, give us what we payed for and/or invested in, we don’t get it.

The closest the Democratic Party (as whole) has come to being united with the LGBT community is in its opposition to discriminatory state and federal constitutional amendments banning recognition of same-sex marriages. While that is definitely appreciated, I don’t see it as enough… especially when many Democratics are against the amendments because of other reasons instead of just standing up and saying flat-out: “This is discrimination and bigotry.”

I really liked the Convention and the Dinner. I got the chance to learn a lot about how the Convention works and I look forward to trying to become a delegate in the future. I need to try and see if my precinct has a chair or talk to my county party chair. I’d love to go next time as a delegate.

I got to meet and chat with a lot of new folks, including some I’ve known for some time, like PJ Puryear and Judge Hassell (he has done swearing in ceremonies for the UNCG Student Government). I also very quickly introduced myself to my City Councilman in Winston-Salem, Dan Besse (Southwest Ward). I hope to talk to him about some City policies (I guess you all can take a good guess as to what those policies might be, lol).

Overall… The Convention was a blast…. NC Dems have been in power for hundreds of years… and Gosh darnitt…. WE’RE GONNA KEEP IT THAT WAY! 🙂

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Off with the donkeys…

NC DemocratsToday is the biennial convention of the North Carolina State Democratic Party. I’ll be off to that down in High Point, along with some other UNCG College Dem folk.

We are going to be in activist training by the DNC from about 9am to Noon. At noon the convention will start. Later in the evening we are supposed to go to the first Sanford-Hunt Dinner. It should be a blast.

I plan on taking my laptop with me, praying that the convention center and hotel have free wireless internet. If not, then I will have brought my computer for nothing I guess.

I’ll talk to you all later… Be sure to check out my two morning posts below… The one on the lightening-struck church is good.

Cross-posted from InclusiveScouting.net

According to an article from the Southern Voice, one of the LGBT community’s largest corporate sponsors, Bank of America, announced in April 2006 it would stop its corporate support of the Alapaha Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Georgia.

The Bank’s Charitable Foundation said it could not continue to support a discriminatory organization. Now, a Georgia state representative has submitted legislation that would bar the state from doing business with the Bank.

State Representative Earl Ehrhart says that the Bank is discriminating against the Boy Scouts of America. He also believes that the people of Georgia would not want the state to do business with a company or group which discriminates against the Scouts. Ehrhart has twice sponsored legislation which would have prevented the City of Atlanta from stopping business with private employers which discriminate against LGBT citizens.

According to the article:

Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) and state Sen. John Wiles (R-Kennesaw) responded by promising to introduce legislation next year that would allow the state not to do business with Bank of America and other companies that legislators believe discriminate.

“I don’t think the citizens of Georgia would want their tax dollars going to a business that discriminates against the Boy Scouts of America,” said Wiles, who voted to support Ehrhart’s previous legislation to negate Atlanta’s Equal Benefits ordinance, which required city contractors to provide the same benefits to gay couples as married couples.

Ehrhart did not respond to interview requests by press time, and Bank of America spokesperson Alex Liftman declined comment on any possible legislation.

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation implemented its non-discrimination policy Jan. 1, 2006, after Bank of America merged with FleetBoston Financial, Liftman said.

Other corporations and charities have also severed ties with the Boy Scouts because of the group’s anti-gay policies, including several chapters of United Way. However, the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta continues funding the Boy Scouts, including donating more than $1.1 million to three local chapters last year.

Bank of America has told the Boy Scout council that it would reconsider the group’s funding request if they were to “depart from the current discriminatory practices of the national organization.”

6

Anti-gay church gets a message from God?

I don’t know… but it is very possible. Hey… if God supposedly caused Hurricane Katrina because of us “abominable homosexuals” or if God really did create AIDS to cure our “sinful lifestyles,” then maybe God did this, too.

Phot Credit Lauren Carroll Winston Salem JournalYesterday, during the horrible rains and storms which hit the Piedmont-Triad area of the state, Berean Baptist Church got an electrifying shock when lightening hit the church’s steeple.

According to an article from the Winston-Salem Journal, the church’s pastor, the Reverend Ron Baity said: “We were just very fortunate, because the way it hit, it could have easily set the church on fire,

In a news report on WXII Newschannel 12, Reverend Baity told reporters they were lucky that “the Lord spared” the rest of the building.

Does anybody find it just the least bit ironic that one of the most virulently anti-gay and prejudiced churches in town would get hit by lightening? Maybe God is saying they should learn to be more neighborly and kind. But, who knows… I’m not God and (although he sure thinks he speaks for God’s every thought) Rev. Baity doesn’t know why it happened either.

Berean Baptist Church, as well as Rev. Baity, has been one of the most outspoken religious groups when it comes to LGBT issues. Back in 2002, when the old GLSEN Winston-Salem chapter approached the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education in order to have sexual orientation and gender-identity included in anti-harassment and non-discrimination policies, Berean showed up at the following meeting.

They made sure to tell the Board what “God would want” and made doubly sure to remind the Board members “what the Bible said” about such “sinful lifestyles” as homosexuality. (This is, of course, in addition to the horribly anti-gay statements already made by Board members Buddy Collins and Jeannie Metcalf).

Maybe the lightening strike at Berean Baptist wasn’t God’s doing. Oh… I know… maybe Satan did it! Or maybe… it could just be natural (the church’s steeple is, after all, one of the highest points in its area).

But… It is kind of fun to think God is trying to tell the prejudiced church and its pastor something or another.

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While we’re on the subject….

Unlike stealing our Bill of Rights, the Yankees did have something right: Equality for all Americans. Looks as though the South is being backward again.

This from Ruby Sinreich at BlueNC.com:

Southern Whites v. Voting Rights
June 23, 2006

I just got this important message from Bob Hall, long-standing freedom fighter for democracy in North Carolina:

Good people,

White Southern Members of Congress are again embarrassing the region and nation by opposing civil rights legislation that has bipartisan support.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act was scheduled for a vote for renewal this week, until a group of Southern Republicans, including Rep. Virginia Foxx and Rep. Patrick McHenry from NC, convinced the House Speaker to stop the vote.

Please make a quick telephone call to US House Speaker Dennis Hastert and urge him to RENEW THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT NOW. Call toll-free 866-808-0065.

Renewal of key parts of this law –our most effective tool for fair elections and against discrimination — is backed by a huge coalition. It passed the House Judiciary Comm by a 33-to-1 vote. The Speaker says he wants it to pass, but here comes a group of Southern whites who think it “harms” the South. They think discrimination has ended and there’s no reason to keep parts of the law that protect minority voters.

Our own NC Board of Elections officials say the law is useful, not a burden and should be renewed. Rep. Mel Watt of Charlotte has led the effort to modify some parts of the law and reach bipartisan consensus for renewal.

Call Speaker Dennis Hastert’s office – 866-808-0065. Tell him you’re from the South and support a vote for the Voting Rights Act Renewal (HR-9) before Congress takes its July 4 holiday! If you prefer, you can also call Rep. Virginia Foxx and Rep. Patrick McHenry at this number.

For more background go to:

http://www.votingrightsact.org
http://www.votingrights.org/advocacy/?resourceID=68

Thank you!

Bob Hall
Democracy North Carolina
http://www.democracy-nc.org

0

Those darned Yankees

This isn’t a post on gay rights, politics or religion… I’m fully aware. I had to take a moment to be a history geek.

Well… it seems as though North Carolina gets to keep its copy of the Bill of Rights after all. The former co-owner of our Bill of Rights says that the state illegally seized private property – property which had originally belonged to the state and was stolen from us.

According to an article from the News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), a federal judge has ruled that the rightful ownership of the document belongs to the state. The former co-owner says he will appeal to the Supreme Court.

Way back during the Civil War, some “Yankee” soldiers decided, for laughs I guess, to steal our copy of the Bill of Rights. Since then, the document has floated around from owner to owner, even as the state tried desperately to have it returned to us.

Back in August 2005, our Bill of Rights was finally returned to us, with the help of federal authorities.

What I don’t understand is how this former co-owner can claim that this document rightfully belongs to him. Does he not know that when you buy stolen property it doesn’t belong to you, no matter how much you paid for it and no matter how long it had been stolen from the original owner.

Sorry… the North isn’t winning this time (btw… that was a joke, don’t take it seriously, lol)

Picture: Gov. Mike Easley (left) and U.S. Attorney Frank Whitney (right) show off North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights, which President George Washington gave to the state in 1789. (AP photo, August 2005)

Hat Tip: My usual morning reading of the Winston-Salem Journal and BlueNC.com, of course.

The Independent Weekly, a paper based out of the Triangle, has three great pieces dealing with LGBT rights and the LGBT community. Two are gust columns and one is a column from one of their staff writers. This issue of the paper features a “Stonewall anniversary” section to recognize Pride month and the historic turn of events which spawned it.

“The right to be” is written by Jennifer Strom and is a great piece of writing on the Stonewall incidents and the activism it created for the LGBT community.

“My, how things have changed since Stonewall” is an interesting column written by the famed Pam Spaulding of Durham, NC. Pam runs her own blog, “Pam’s House Blend,” and the site has become popular with LGBT people and their supporters nationwide.

And last, but certainly not least, is a piece written by Jim Baxter, former editor of The Front Page, an LGBT paper based out of Raleigh which recently merged with the Charlotte-based Q-Notes (Jim is now writing for Q-Notes). His piece, “Before the ‘Net, there was The Front Page,” is an interesting look at how the LGBT press has changed since the early days of LGBT activism and advocacy in North Carolina.

Check out the columns… they’re great.

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WS Journal: Church must keep a focus

The Winston-Salem Journal published a great staff editorial today regarding the election of the Episcopal Church’s new presiding bishop and the issue of LGBT people in the life of the church:

New Leadership
June 23, 2006

They’re back. Three summers ago, when members of the Episcopal Church elected their first openly gay bishop, they rocked the rest of their worldwide Anglican Communion – and America. Many Anglicans and conservative Episcopalians were furious, there was widespread talk of breakups, and some liberal Episcopalians were conciliatory even as they stuck by their bishop.

But now, Episcopalians, like the Dixie Chicks, aren’t “ready to make nice,” as they showed with the election Sunday of a new leader who will challenge many even as she faces huge challenges. “She” being one of the operative words. Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada is the first woman to lead the Episcopal Church. That’s a big milestone, considering that this denomination has been ordaining women for only about 30 years, and some Episcopalians still aren’t comfortable with it. It’s a big milestone because Jefferts Schori became a priest only 12 years ago, after a career as an oceanographer. And it’s a big milestone because she supported the election of Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the 2.3 million-member denomination’s first openly gay bishop.

One Anglican critic called Jefferts Schori “the most liberal of the lot” running for presiding bishop.

So the fact that she is now at the helm is quite a turn of events. This used to be, after all, the church of the American Establishment. This is the church that has given us several presidents and numerous prep schools and colleges. It’s also been one of the richest and most powerful in the land.

Click here to read the full editorial