Today, MeckPAC, the Mecklenburg Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Political Action Committee, of which I am a member, released the following statement. It is, in part, a response to comments made this morning by Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James, as reported by The Charlotte Observer.

Charlotte City Council and Mecklenburg County Commission need to take stand against constitutional amendment
Local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group encourages elected officials to pass resolutions opposing Amendment One

Charlotte City Council

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — MeckPAC, the Mecklenburg Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Political Action Committee, is calling on the Charlotte City Council and Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners to take a strong stand against discrimination by passing resolutions opposing Amendment One, the anti-LGBT, anti-family and anti-business constitutional amendment slated for the May 8, 2012, primary ballot.

Mecklenburg County Commission

Amendment One would require that the state recognize opposite-sex marriage as the “only domestic legal union” in the state. Legal professionals and scholars have said the vague and overly-broad language of the amendment would ban marriage, civil unions and domestic partnership benefits for both unmarried same-sex couples and unmarried opposite-sex couples.

The amendment would also ban domestic partner benefits currently offered to public employees by local governments like Mecklenburg County. It is vitally important for the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners to defend their LGBT employees who depend on county domestic partner benefits in order to provide healthcare and other needs for their families and children. The amendment would also prevent governments like Charlotte, which has been debating domestic partner benefits, from extending such measures to employees in the future.

Several local elected leaders have spoken out personally against the amendment, including Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. Speaking at the Human Rights Campaign Carolina Gala on Saturday, Feb. 25, Foxx said: “When I go into the ballot box in May … I’m going to be voting against Amendment One.” Last fall, Mecklenburg County Commissioner and then-Chairman Jennifer Roberts signed on to a letter with six other municipal government leaders from across the state urging legislators not to place the amendment on the ballot, noting that the amendment would “threaten important protections for contributing North Carolina citizens, and will significantly harm the future of our state.”

On June 1, 2004, the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution in support of the then-proposed anti-LGBT constitutional amendment. At the time, local LGBT leaders called on the county to reverse its decision and David Moore, then-editor of QNotes, Charlotte’s local LGBT community newspaper, called the resolution a “shameful, embarrassing blot on the face of the Queen City” showing “contempt and prejudice sanctioned by the government.”

The 2004 resolution has never been reversed and remains just as shameful and embarrassing today as it did eight years ago.

MeckPAC calls on the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners to reverse their 2004 position and, with the City of Charlotte, join with leaders like Mayor Foxx and Commissioner Roberts in passing a resolution opposing Amendment One and its many potential harms to North Carolina families and children, residents, citizens and businesses.

Similar resolutions and official statements opposing the anti-LGBT Amendment One have already been approved by the elected bodies of Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro and Raleigh.

# # #

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx appeared at the Human Rights Campaign Carolina Gala on Saturday evening, welcoming the nearly 1,400-person dinner to town with a speech that included his newly-minted public opposition to Amendment One, the anti-LGBT constitutional amendment on the primary ballot on May 8, 2012.

Anthony Foxx

From The Charlotte Observer:

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx personally welcomed those at the gala – a sign that things have changed since 2005, when then-Mayor Pat McCrory, a Republican, refused to issue a welcoming letter for the gala in Charlotte that year.

During his remarks Saturday, Foxx also spoke out against the proposed constitutional amendment reaffirming North Carolina’s ban – already in state law – of same-sex marriage.

Saying he’d heard from gay and lesbian city workers and police officers who could not take bereavement time or care for their partners, Foxx told the crowd that “when I go into the ballot box in May … I’m going to be voting against Amendment 1.”

He said he was concerned that passage of the amendment would scare away from Charlotte – site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention – those businesses that want to attract talented gay and lesbian employees.

“They … don’t want a ‘Not Wanted’ sign hung over their front (door),” Foxx said.

Foxx’s remarks are a welcome and appreciated transformation on his part. Finally, Charlotte’s mayor has spoken out against the amendment in a personal way. The Foxx of Saturday night has come a long way since the Foxx of last year, who could rarely bring himself to utter the words “gay” or “lesbian” in public and who, at an LGBT business seminar in September, found it difficult to strongly condemn the amendment and declined to comment on how he would vote personally.

As I’ve noted, Foxx’s speech Saturday is a step forward for the city’s top elected official, the result of many conversations, public and private, pushing him to do and say more in support of his LGBT supporters and constituents. I am thankful Foxx has now spoken out so publicly against the amendment. I hope he continues to do so and that he takes his message from the largely friendly crowd at the gala to the voting public. Preaching to the choir is great (sometimes the choir needs the encouragement), but speaking out in the not-so-friendly public is what will eventually help to change hearts and minds — and votes.

And, as ever, there remains so much more work to be done. The Charlotte City Council has yet to take up a public vote on an LGBT-inclusive employment non-discrimination ordinance or domestic partner benefits. If Mayor Foxx truly supports our community and if the stories of those LGBT city workers and police officers were truly as impactful as he claims, then I’m confident Mayor Foxx will publicly renew his desire to have the council move on LGBT equality issues, as he told QNotes in November 2009: “I’d like to see the City Council move on the non-discrimination issue very early in the next term and I’d like to see us do that in a bipartisan way. I know there are members of City Council within both parties who have expressed support for including sexual orientation in the non-discrimination ordinance. Given that, I’d like to see action on that very early.”

Pleasant words, accommodating speeches and pretty rainbow lights on Uptown skyscrapers are nice and we should be appreciative and thankful for all of them, but they can never be an acceptable replacement for or alternative to decisive action. It is time for this city and its elected leaders on council to take a firm, public stand against discrimination by casting their votes in favor of LGBT-inclusive ordinances.

Sen. Kay Hagan at the 2009 HRC Carolina Gala in Charlotte.

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) released a statement to mainstream and LGBT media and bloggers this week outlining her opposition to the state’s proposed anti-LGBT constitutional amendment.

From Hagan’s office:

In today’s hyperpartisan political environment, I view any attempt to alter our state constitution with a critical eye. Amendment One has far-reaching negative consequences for our families, our children and our communities. North Carolina is one of the most business-friendly states in the nation, and this amendment would harm our state’s ability to recruit the innovators and businesses that are driving our economic recovery. Jobs are my number one priority, and we cannot afford totake our eye off the ball and give businesses a reason to grow and expand elsewhere. The people I hear from everyday – the families that make up the fabric of the Old North State – tell me they are sick and tired of watching their jobs and their livelihoods fall victim to divisive partisan posturing. In North Carolina we say our state is “Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great.” Amendment One harms our state’s resolve to make all people and all families great, and as a proud daughter of North Carolina, I urge all North Carolinians to join me in opposing it.

The statement comes as the Human Rights Campaign is set to hold its Carolina Gala in Charlotte on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Local leaders, too, have taken a stab at speaking out, saying they are “on board for equality” in a “Welcome to Charlotte” video released by HRC this week. The video includes Mayor Anthony Foxx, Mecklenburg County Commissioners Jennifer Roberts and Dumont Clarke, City Councilmembers Patsy Kinsey and LaWana Mayfield and state Rep. Becky Carney. There’s still no word on how “on board for equality” some local leaders are, and if such rhetoric extends to using their offices and votes to take a greater stand for equality (see my commentary last week in Creative Loafing, “Queen City? She’s no reigning monarch when it comes to LGBT equality”),

The N.C. Baptist State Convention has made their position on discrimination and bigotry quite clear, and despite their pressure to either ignore completely or twist the Gospel to fit their own needs, there are plenty of Baptists across North Carolina who are willing and ready to step up and speak out against hate and, especially, hate in God’s name.

Above all others, Baptists have a history that enables them to stand up for the true Gospel. The misdeeds of our forbears should be lesson enough to prove that the Gospel cannot be a message of hate, exclusion, division and bigotry. To the contrary, Jesus’ ultimate message of radical love and inclusion is “good news” to the masses. Our God is the Lord of salvation, mercy, freedom, justice and love.

To that end, national Baptist organizations, local churches and local Baptist leaders and congregants will gather in Charlotte this weekend for the first in a series of events in the “Many Voices, One Love,” campaign sponsored by the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB), the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA), and the Alliance of Baptists.

The event,  “NC Baptists Against Amendment One: Justice, Equality and Personal Freedom,” will be held at Myers Park Baptist Church, 1900 Queens Rd., Charlotte, N.C., Feb. 25, 2012, from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

A featured panel discussion will be held 9:45-10:45 a.m., moderated by Dan Murrey and featuring Myers Park Pastor Stephen Shoemaker, as well as Ken Godwin, Chaz Seale and Ricky Woods. Angela Yarber, pastor of my hometown Wake Forest Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., will also be a panelist.

Representatives from The Human Rights Campaign, the Faith and Justice Servant Leadership Group of Myers Park Baptist Church and The Coalition to Protect NC Families will also be present at the event.

Get more information about the event at Protect NC Families…

 

Joe Solmonese (Credit: HRC)

Great news for outgoing Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, who will be making one of his last public appearances as “professional gay” head honcho at this weekend’s HRC Carolina Gala in Charlotte: Solmonese has been named a national co-chair of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, according to The Miami Herald‘s Steve Rothaus.

But, I saw something like that coming. Who couldn’t have.

From my Feb. 18 Q&A with Solmonese at the old day job:

Where do you see your life taking you now?
I’ve given some thought to what I’ll do next. I haven’t decided how I’ll spend all of my time, but I know I’ll spend a fair amount of time between now and November working to reelect President Obama.

But, the move out of HRC wasn’t the only topic of my chat with Solmonese. There was some great conversation on ENDA, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” voter mobilization, the progressive movement and North Carolina’s impending vote on an anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment.

I have to say, I was quite proud this Q&A was one of my last duties as editor of QNotes — so, count me as biased as I highly encourage you to read the full thing at goqnotes.com…

 

Via CLTblog

Update (Feb. 21, 2012, 7:03 p.m.): Click here to watch the Feb. 20 “282” if you missed the live-stream on Monday or the Monday-evening broadcast on WTVI.

I’m pleased to be a guest today, along with host Carlton Hargo, Anthony Lindsey of the CIAA Committee and 16-year-old Republican writer and blogger Madeleine McAuley, on Charlotte’s WTVI’s and CLTblog.com’s local affairs program, “282.”

We’ll be discussing today:

  • The upcoming seventh CIAA Tournament in Charlotte, what it has meant to the city, what it has become and where it is going.
  • LGBT people and the church, following one Charlotte Catholic church’s dismissal of their gay music minister after his recent marriage in New York.
  • Sue Myrick’s decision not to run for reelection and the resulting shakeup her decision is causing in local politics as area Republicans (count’em — nine so far) have jumped in the primary to replace her.

You can watch a live stream of the taping at noon on http://cltblog.com/live. The show will also air tonight at 6:30 p.m. on WTVI. 

The Wake County Board of Commissioners will consider at their meeting today a resolution supporting North Carolina’s anti-LGBT, anti-family constitutional amendment, according to grassroots activism group Neighbors for Equality.

Paul Coble

The resolution is being recommended by Republican Commission Chairman Paul Coble, who has billed the measure as a a statement in “support of voter participation” in the amendment referendum, to be held along with primary elections on May 8, 2012.

But the resolution does far, far more than that, resolving “that the Wake County Board of Commissioners endorses the Marriage Amendment to the North Carolina Constitution which states that the only domestic legal union that is valid or recognized in North Carolina is marriage between one man and one woman.”

If the intention couldn’t be any clearer, here’s the summary that Coble offered when placing the resolution on the agenda:

The North Carolina General Assembly voted to place an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution before the voters on May 8, 2012. The amendment recognizes that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union recognized in this State. The amendment will ensure that judges will adjudicate based on the law and not on activism, and keep the judiciary from redefining marriage inconsistent with the North Carolina Statutes.

Coble, a Republican candidate in North Carolinas 13th Congressional District, makes his position on marriage abundantly clear on his campaign website: “He believes that marriage should be preserved for one man and one woman. He believes that freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.” Meaning, in essence, “Screw the First Amendment; I’m forcing my religious beliefs into constitutional law and you just have to deal with it.”

The commission meets at 2 p.m. today at the Wake County Courthouse, room 700 on the seventh floor. See the agenda here, the resolution summary here and the full text of the resolution here.

Grassroots activist group Neighbors for Equality is encouraging Wake County citizens and residents to attend the 2 p.m. meeting today and share their thoughts on the amendment and the resolution. Public comments will be accepted. From Neighbors for Equality: “Sign up before the meeting. Comments from the public will be received at 2:30 p.m. for 30 minutes. A signup sheet for those who wish to speak during the public comments section of the meeting is located in the back of the Boardroom.”

The News & Observer published a report from Associated Press writer Tom Breen this morning detailing some of the legal arguments, concerns and questions being considered as North Carolina’s anti-LGBT, anti-family constitutional amendment heads to the ballot in the state’s May 8, 2012, primary elections.

E. Gregory Wallace

E. Gregory Wallace, who teaches constitutional law at Campbell University’s Wiggins School of Law, was one of several legal commentators Breen sought for comment.

From the piece:

“It’s difficult to predict with any certainty how courts are going to predict constitutional provisions or statutes,” said E. Gregory Wallace, a constitutional law professor at Campbell University’s Wiggins School of Law.

[…]

In a decision called Ohio vs. Carswell, the state supreme court ruled that the marriage amendment didn’t invalidate domestic violence laws. The analysis by UNC researchers argues that an Ohio-like situation is possible here, but Wallace said the fact that the matter has been settled in that state makes such an outcome less like in North Carolina.

[…]

It’s up to the voters, of course, to determine whether all of the legal back-and-forth amounts to more than speculation, which Wallace argues is probably for the best on such charged topics.

“I think it’s a healthy thing that it’s going directly to the people of North Carolina,” he said. “When you talk about making fundamental change in an institution as old as marriage, that’s probably something that’s best left up to the people themselves.”

Notice that? Every time Wallace comments on the discriminatory amendment he’s either defending it or deflecting concerns over its potential harms.

Meanwhile, legal commentators at the most prestigious and mainstream law school in the state disagree with every point Wallace makes. But, can we be surprised that a Baptist-affiliated law school professor is in favor of the amendment? Of course not.

And, take into consideration Wallace’s support over a decade ago of the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law’s “Marriage Law Project,” and his signature on a letter to the Dutch Parliament admonishing them for considering full marriage equality.

The text of the letter:

TO THE PARLIAMENT OF THE NETHERLANDS: A STATEMENT ON THE DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE FROM LAW PROFESSORS ACROSS THE WORLD

December 2000

We are professors of law and jurisprudence at universities across the world. We believe that marriage is the unique union of a man and a woman, a community of life and love. Marriage so understood is built into the fabric of social life, and cannot be arbitrarily redefined by lawmakers. Male-female marriage provides incomparable benefits to society, especially for children and for those who invest their lives in raising their children. Our domestic and international laws should preserve, protect and promote the institution of marriage.

We offer no simple recipe for laws that address non-marital sexual relationships. Our countries address these questions in different ways (indeed your own country has already adopted a wide-ranging Registered Partnership Act). But we are united in the conviction that the legal definition of marriage, as the union of a man and a woman, should not be changed. Redefining marriage to include same-sex unions will introduce unprecedented moral, social and legal confusion into our communities. The casualties of this confusion will be the families and children of the future, and therefore our societies as a whole.

We would remind the Dutch Parliament that many legal scholars, including the undersigned, do support marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In that respect, we represent the beliefs and practices of the overwhelming majority of humanity. No country is an island. Your actions will have fateful consequences not only for Europe, but for every country in the world.

Maggie Gallagher would be proud. Any relation to George, Mr. Wallace?

This morning, SC Equality and Palmetto State citizens gathered in front of the state Senate Corrections and Penology Committee to testify against S. 1062, a bill that would prohibit the state’s department of corrections from providing hormone therapy to transgender inmates.

SC Equality Executive Director Christine Johnson updated her Facebook followers to express the organization’s position on the bill, writing that the legislation is “both unconstitutional and pointless.”

She said:

[The bill is] Unconstitutional because like Wisconsin’s bill, this one will be found in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendment. Pointless, because when SC Equality contacted the SCDOC to request the number of transgender inmates, they replied that they knew of NONE!

A later updated from Johnson exposed the sheer arrogance of South Carolina’s Republican majority (emphasis added):

The bill was amended “to address Ms. Johnson’s concerns” so that inmates who are already on hormone therapy cannot be denied therapy while in prison. It is still unconstitutional and will no doubt face a court challenge. When the potential court challenge was brought up, the sponsor and committee members laughed aloud blaming liberal activists judges for the problems.

Johnson wasn’t the only Palmetto politico speaking out on the measure this morning.

Kevin Bryant

State Sen. Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) took to his website to mock one transgender citizen’s testimony (having earlier in the same piece called a trans person a “He/She/?”):

A spokesperson from the transgender community testified at the hearing this morning with the arguments of cruel and unusual punishment and the unconstitutionality of s.1062.

Simply put, the cruelty would be on the taxpayer footing the bill for theses procedures costing 10’s of thousands of dollars. Also, I’ve never been one to check with the local liberal activist judge for permission on every piece of legislation.

If we were to start paying for “Dan” to become “Danielle”, were would we house the inmate? How can we protect the scarce funds of the already least funded department in the U.S.?

Respect for the law and Constitution? Nada. Respect for human dignity? Nada. Respect for equal access to legitimate healthcare? Nada. Respect for the American judicial system and its purpose? Nada. Nada. Nada.

What exactly is it that Republicans stand for again? Surely, the “Party of Lincoln” hasn’t become this heartless and disrespectful. Scratch that — Yes, they have.