Frank Turek

WFAE 90.7 FM will host a public conversation and forum tonight on Amendment One. Entitled “Defining Marriage,” the radio station says it hopes to host a “very meaningful dialogue” on the proposed constitutional amendment that would strip marriage rights from same-sex couples and prohibit civil unions and domestic partnerships for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.

That “meaningful dialogue,” bit? Likely not possible, especially since they’ve invited extremist and anti-gay bully Frank Turek to represent the anti-gay side of the debate.

Turek is associated with radicals like Charlotte street preacher and convicted stalker Flip Benham and Dr. Michael Brown, whose use of violent and militant religious rhetoric I’ve well-documented. In fact, my first introduction to Turek was during a forum sponsored by Brown back in 2007 (there’s an in-depth review and commentary of that event, as well).

Turek and Brown recently debated North Carolina philanthropist and activist Mitchell Gold on Brown’s radio show. I commented on the debate and documented some of the conversation, which left me with the distinct impression that Turek is more bully than academic.

It’s quite disappointing that WFAE would bring in such a radical voice to represent the opposing viewpoint. Couldn’t they find a more appropriate and respectful voice? In reality, perhaps not. How “appropriate” and “respectful” can pro-amendment voices be when each seem to be connected to people like Brown, genocide-enabling radicals like Lou Engle and hate group leaders and white supremacists like Tony Perkins?

Update (March 27, 2012, 11:13 a.m.): The fundraising campaign hit $1.1 million this morning! But don’t quit giving! Keep up the momentum — it’s working. North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis told students at N.C. State, “It’s a generational issue. The data shows right now that you are a generation away from that issue,” and “If it passes, I think it will be repealed within 20 years.” The right-wing conservative base arguing for this amendment is crumbling with each passing day.

“I think amending North Carolina’s constitution to forbid gay and lesbian couples from receiving any future legal recognition, including civil unions, is unwise and unfair. In my opinion the real threat to marriage is not the prospect of gay people getting hitched. It is the reality of straight people too quickly resorting to divorce, or never getting hitched in the first place.”
– John Hood, president, John Lock Foundation, “No Defense for the Offense”

If you’ve been looking for proof that the momentum in North Carolina was decidedly on the side of fairness and equality, look no further than the quote above.

John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation, would have been among my last guesses if someone asked me to pick out leading conservative leaders I thought might oppose Amendment One, the discriminatory, anti-LGBT constitutional amendment on which North Carolinians will vote come May 8. Sure, the foundation’s main focus might be on fiscal policy, but I certainly would never have put them in the gay “ally” camp.

The Coalition to Protect All N.C. Families is doing great work. Their campaign is astounding. They’re reaching thousands upon thousands of Tar Heels with their message of equality. Most important, they are stressing just how dangerous and far-reaching this amendment is. While the anti-gay religious right, funded and supported by hate groups, becomes increasingly more outward with their bigotry and hate, Protect N.C. grows increasingly more relevant. Tar Heel voters are naive and they aren’t suckers. They won’t fall for a  loosing game. Hood is proof.

Yesterday, Protect N.C. launched a nationwide fundraising effort to increase awareness and use the awesome power of the blogosphere to raise much-needed funds for the campaign. At the start, the campaign was $50,000 away from reaching its $1 million fundraising mark. And, after just one day, that gap has been decreased to just $29,000, and I hear that gap is decreasing quickly! (You can read updates about the fundraising effort and the transcript of an online chat with campaign leaders at Pam’s House Blend.)

I’ll be planning to give to Protect All N.C. Families. If you’re like me, it might not be much, but even the smallest contribution can go a long, long way. You and I might have only $5, $10, $20 or $40 we can contribute toward the fight for equality, but when combined, donations like yours and mine can become a powerhouse. 

The campaign’s fundraising theme this week has been “First in Flight.” North Carolina made history over a 100 years ago. We can make history again, as we reach higher toward a greater good and a better existence for each of our citizens — for a state that says, “We will not tolerate bigotry and discrimination. We will not redefine our constitution and the freedoms and liberties it protects.” 

Join me today and give what you can. On May 8, we’ll celebrate like never before. Click here to join in the this week’s fundraising campaign today.

There’s been quite a bit of controversy this week after Freedom to Marry, the nation’s leading marriage equality organization, announced its “Win More States Fund” but excluded North Carolina (and Maryland), which faces an anti-LGBT constitutional amendment on May 8, 2012.

Durham, N.C.-native and blogger Pam Spaulding wrote about the Freedom to Marry decision, saying:

I’ll definitely remember this when I’m hit up for cash, promotion or Tweets by Freedom To Marry, an organization I supported because of its work fighting for marriage equality. Apparently the feeling is not mutual. Only certain battles are willing to be fought, and it’s willing to leave LGBTs here behind.

Bil Browning of Bilerico.com added:

Bluntly put, this is a big “Fuck you” out of the usually respectful Freedom to Marry gang that’s straight out of the HRC handbook. They don’t think they can win in those states, so they’re only attaching their names to the battles they think will win.

Marc Solomon

Marc Solomon, Freedom to Marry’s national campaign director, appeared this weekend at the third annual National LGBT Editor/Blogger Convening in Houston, Texas, and spoke briefly about North Carolina and their decision not to get involved. His answer was substantively no different than that given to Bilerico.com by Freedom to Marry Executive Director Evan Wolfson: The group is focusing their limited funds in states and in campaigns where they can win.

It’s a line that’s been repeated too often, and one that leaves North Carolinians like me and Pam Spaulding wondering, “Does Freedom to Marry believe that a loss in North Carolina is a foregone conclusion?” And, if that’s true, why haven’t they just said so directly?

I asked Solomon that question today, and followed up: Does Freedom to Marry believe losing in North Carolina is a foregone conclusion, and if that is the case why, considering that North Carolina has been far more progressive than any other southern state in its entire history?

Solomon’s answer:

I would never say that losing in North Carolina is a foregone conclusion. Never. And, I want us to win badly in North Carolina, so I would never ever say that. I’m just saying that as a capacity matter for Freedom to Marry, we feel like we need to really, really focus when we get in — if we’re really going to go in and invest in a state we’re going to be there. On the Maine campaign, for example, i’m talking to their campaign manager five time a day now, getting text mesages. We’re a relatively small organization we can’t take on everything. If we do, we will dilute ourselves too much and won’t be as effective an organization as we want to be. We want North Carolina to win badly. I would never rule out a win in North Carolina. Never. That doesn’t mean that it’s not okay for others to take the lead in other places.

Audio below, with follow-up question from Browning and answer from Solomon.

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Teju Cole

From a phenomenal Atlantic commentary today from author Teju Cole (@tejucole) touches on a variety of topics, including Cole’s  most pertinent focus on what he calls the “White Savior Complex.”

But, it was his point-on observation of the marginalization of of already-oppressed voices that caught my attention, as well (emphasis added):

But there’s a place in the political sphere for direct speech and, in the past few years in the U.S., there has been a chilling effect on a certain kind of direct speech pertaining to rights. The president is wary of being seen as the “angry black man.” People of color, women, and gays — who now have greater access to the centers of influence that ever before — are under pressure to be well-behaved when talking about their struggles. There is an expectation that we can talk about sins but no one must be identified as a sinner: newspapers love to describe words or deeds as “racially charged” even in those cases when it would be more honest to say “racist”; we agree that there is rampant misogyny, but misogynists are nowhere to be found; homophobia is a problem but no one is homophobic. One cumulative effect of this policed language is that when someone dares to point out something as obvious as white privilege, it is seen as unduly provocative. Marginalized voices in America have fewer and fewer avenues to speak plainly about what they suffer; the effect of this enforced civility is that those voices are falsified or blocked entirely from the discourse.

The marginalization against those minority leaders or community members — racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, what-have-you — who dare to speak out plainly and directly about their experiences in an oppressive system designed to exploit and harm them isn’t just something that comes from the oppressors. Unfortunately, the oppressed are doing it to themselves; Cole’s observed “pressure to be well-behaved” is often self-imposed. And, it’s a shame.

I’m becoming increasingly more convinced that some of the more mainstreamed leaders among various minorities — who consistently stand up to defend their “friends” in high places instead of the rights of those people in their own communities — suffer less from the blindness of privilege and more from Stockholm syndrome.

Eric Preston has re-released his video on Wake County Commission Chairman Paul Coble, which I featured earlier this week in my post, “Video: ‘King Paul’ Coble’s politics of division.”

The video is below, along with a transcript of his letter at the opening.

Dear viewer,

A couple of days ago I released the original version of this video with a quote from me at the beginning that incorrectly implied that all North Carolina Republicans agreed with GOP politicians like Wake County Commission Chairman Paul Coble.

In the last 48 hours the video received over 1,300 views, and I received many emails and comments from Republicans who wanted to make it clear that they do not associate themselves with the likes of Chairman Coble, his methods, manners or agendas.

These same respectable Republicans also told me, in no uncertain terms, that they are AGAINST the proposed North Carolina state Constitutional Amendment and will be voting as such on May 8th, 2012.

It is to these people that I extend my most humble apologies and dedicate this re-release with a more appropriate opening quote.

Sincerely,
Eric Preston
March 15th, 2012

“In one divisive act, not only has Paul Coble embarrassed both Republicans and Democrats, but insulted all North Carolina citizens as well.” — Eric Preston, writer, director

Update (March 15, 2012, 5:25 p.m.): The Durham City Council voted unanimously, 6-0, today to oppose Amendment One. Charlotte, on the other hand, remains silent. The details from Protect NC…

Just like the video above states, the momentum against Amendment One, the proposed anti-LGBT, anti-family, anti-children, anti-business amendment to the North Carolina Constitution is growing. With each passing day, more and more North Carolinians — elected officials, business leaders and voters — are standing up against the amendment and the harms it will cause to the citizens and residents of the Tar Heel State.

Such was the case this week when the Town of Chapel Hill passed a resolution opposing the amendment, following in the footsteps of Greensboro and other municipalities. And, believe or not, Bank of America has spoken out, too…

Charlotte City Council

Activists in Charlotte have already spoken out and asked the Charlotte City Council and Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners to take similar steps and pass resolutions speaking out against Amendment One. Conversations are happening behind the scenes, but real action and real political courage have yet to take a firm hold in Charlotte.

Now, more pressure is being brought to bear as citizens ask

Mecklenburg County Commission

their elected representatives in Charlotte to, finally, take a stand that should have been taken a long, long time ago.

John Michael Watkins is a Charlotte native, a resident of Chapel Hill and a student at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He’s taken to the premier progressive grassroots action site, Change.org, to encourage Charlotte’s city council and Mecklenburg County’s board of commissioners to take a stand against Amendment One.

I’ve signed the petitions asking Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to pass resolutions opposing Amendment One, and I encourage you to do the same. When citizens speak out, their elected representatives will listen. Click the links below to be taken to the two different petitions, affix your name and signature and ask Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to take a stand for what is right and what is just. If speaking out against Amendment One is good enough for Bank of America — one of Charlotte’s largest employers and most significant, national namesakes — then it is should be good enough for our elected representatives…

http://www.change.org/petitions/charlotte-city-council-pass-a-resolution-opposing-nc-amendment-one

http://www.change.org/petitions/mecklenburg-county-commission-pass-a-resolution-opposing-nc-amendment-one

In addition to signing the petitions, you might be interested in sending a personal note to your elected representatives. Their contact information is below, and be sure to check out this past post for a sample letter you can adapt when contacting them. As noted in that sample letter, be sure you ask the Charlotte City Council to also consider a public vote on an LGBT-inclusive employment non-discrimination ordinance, a measure that has yet to be taken up by the council despite repeated requests from citizens, city employees and activists over the years.

Charlotte City Council

Mayor Anthony R. Foxx
mayor@charlottenc.gov
704-336-2241

Mayor Pro Tem Patrick D. Cannon, At-Large
MayorProTemCannon@gmail.com
704-336-7400

Council Member Claire Green Fallon, At-Large
cfallon@charlottenc.gov
704-336-6105

Council Member David Howard, At-Large
info@davidhowardclt.com
704-336-4099

Council Member Beth Pickering, At-Large
bpickering@charlottenc.gov
704-336-5285

Council Member Patsy B. Kinsey, District 1
pkinsey@charlottenc.gov
704-336-3432 or 704-376-5367

Council Member James E. Mitchell, Jr., District 2
JamesDistrict2@aol.com
704-336-3424

Council Member LaWana Mayfield, District 3
councilwomanmayfield@gmail.com
704-336-3435

Council Member Michael D. Barnes, District 4
barnesdistrict4@aol.com
704-509-6141

Council Member John N. Autry, District 5
jautry@charlottenc.gov
704-336-2777

Council Member Andy Dulin, District 6
adulin1@carolina.rr.com
704-968-8776

Council Member Warren Cooksey, District 7
warren@warrencooksey.com
704-347-0420

Mecklenburg County Commission

Harold Cogdell, Jr., Chairman
Harold.cogdell@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov

Jim Pendergraph, Vice Chairman
jim.pendergraph@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov
704-336-2472

Jennifer Roberts, At-Large
jennifer.roberts@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov
704-336-2574

Karen Bentley, District 1
karen.bentley@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov
704-432-3997

Vilma Leake, District 2
vilma.leake@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov
704-336-2088

George Dunlap, District 3
george.dunlap@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov
704-336-4419

Dumont Clark, District 4
dumontclarke@mvalaw.com
704-331-1051

Neil Cooksey, District 5
neil.cooksey@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov
704-336-5400

Bill James, District 6
Wjames@carolina.rr.com
704-336-2573

[Note: Video above is a March 15, 2012, re-release of the original March 13, 2012, video shared in this post.]

Filmographer Eric Preston has released a lengthy video recounting the day back in February when Republican Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Paul Coble brought forth a resolution in support of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment.

Coble, a nephew of the late, great hater U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms (R), is also running for the Republican nomination in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District.

Three takeaways from the video:

  1. Embarrassing: “King Paul” Coble’s knowledge (or lack thereof) of the law, of the harms of the amendment he supports and his inability to run an orderly public meeting is an embarrassment and disgrace to the citizens of Wake County and North Carolina.
  2. Arrogant: “King Paul” Coble’s treatment of his fellow commissioners and his Wake County constituents is nothing short of arrogant. His attempts to silence public comment and his fellow commissioners, his continual ignoring of citizens’ remarks and his refusal to allow a roll-call vote on the amendment speak to his Coble’s character — one that is willing to push his and only his agenda at the expense of all other people and considerations.
  3. Dangerous: His inability to run an orderly meeting and his refusal to allow a roll-call vote are sure signs of how “King Paul” Coble views his place in government. He is not a representative of the people. He is not a custodian of the law. He is not a public servant in representative democratic government. No. No. He is a monarch whose will must be obeyed. Such a mindset is dangerous to citizens and to the very fabric of our republic.

Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a new and updated list of anti-gay organizations it has named to their infamous list of hate groups. The list continues to include the Family Research Council, which is taking a leading role in fighting for Amendment One, the proposed anti-LGBT amendment to the North Carolina state constitution. The Family Research Council’s president, Tony Perkins, appeared in Charlotte on Sunday. You can read my in-depth review of his appearance here, or check out this week’s “Sex, Cash & Politics,” for more Perkins’ history of work in the field of hate…

Amendment One supporter’s ‘fruit’ is rotten to the core

Tony Perkins

On March 4, Tony Perkins, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council delivered a guest sermon at Charlotte’s First Baptist Church (click here for an in-depth review). His presence at the home church of North Carolina Baptist State Convention President Mark Harris is significant and comes as voters soon head to the polls to vote on Amendment One, the constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage and civil unions and domestic partnerships for unmarried opposite-sex and same-sex couples alike.

Despite his pleas to God and Christ’s Gospel, Perkins is no run-of-the-mill Christian conservative and his fruit would be unrecognizable to Christ, who said his disciples would be known by their love for one another. I have faith that other Christians voting in May won’t be so easily deceived. The truth will be apparent to them: Perkins’ discord, divisiveness and hate are no sign of Christ or the Gospel. To the contrary, Perkins’ work is the perfect Gospel antithesis.

Read the rest of the weekly column at SexCashandPolitics.com…

This post is an in-depth review of the March 4, 2012, worship service at First Baptist Church of Charlotte — its pastor, Mark Harris, the president of the North Carolina Baptist Convention — and its guest sermon by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins (reported by The Charlotte Observer here). Quotes from Harris and Perkins, along with the full audio, follow initial commentary. In addition, other commentary by Matt Comer is provided in red and [in brackets]. A YouTube video with Perkins’ most direct comments on marriage and North Carolina’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment, young people and LGBT people is included at the end, along with a transcript. A final commentary and a call for Perkins and Harris to end their harm against LGBT youth and people follows at the conclusion of the post. Finally, my first column in the new weekly series, “Sex, Cash & Politics,” will delve into Perkins’ hate group connections. The column will be delivered today to print and online publications across North Carolina and cane be used free-of-charge as an op-ed or guest commentary. Click here to learn more about the column and subscribe for free.


You gotta hand it to Southern Baptists. They know how to put on a show. Blaring trumpets, waving flags and soaring patriotic melodies blended together with a little bit of soul and spirit in calls for defending “God and Country.”

It was Durham-based blogger Pam Spaulding that alerted me to the Family Research Council‘s Values Bus Tour stop on Sunday at First Baptist Church-Charlotte. I and an acquaintance decided to go. Mostly I was curious: Why in the world was Mark Harris, the pastor of one of Charlotte’s landmark Baptist churches and president of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention, allowing a man like Family Research Council President Tony Perkins to speak at his church? Why would a seemingly Christ-loving, people-loving pastor allow the leader of a hate group to speak to his congregants?

Tony Perkins

After more than an hour of First Baptist worship, the reason became clear.

“Tony Perkins…has been willing to step up and speak out,” Harris told his congregants, affirming that Harris’ brand of Christianity is just as hate-filled and exclusive as Perkins’.

Marriage and the church are under attack, First Baptist Church-Charlotte Pastor and N.C. Baptist Convention President Mark Harris and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said on Sunday. And, it is up to the faithful to defend against the attacks of Satan. For any keen observer — and, no doubt, to any of the few LGBT young people in the audience (of which I am sure there are quite a few, given how large a congregation First Baptist is) — it’s clear who Harris and Perkins think are on the satanic side of the LGBT equality debate. For all their whimpering over faith and freedom, what they really wish to create is a heterosexuals-only, exclusive country club.

Take, for instance, the First Baptist choir’s performance of the song, “Livin’ in the Homeland,” before Perkins’ sermon. A recording of the song (not of the choir itself, sorry) and portion of the lyrics:

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Livin’ in the homeland, not afraid to take a stand,
Every woman, child and man deserves to be free.
Stand tall. Don’t fall. All for one. One for all.
That is the battle call for you and for me.

Side by side, hand in hand, for freedom’s cause we’ll take a stand!

March! March with our flags held high.
Not afraid to fight. Not afraid to die.
March! March for the cause is just.
‘Tis a sacred honor, ‘tis a holy trust.

Freedom and liberty demand a high cost.
Many rights gained through so many lives lost.
The brave and the free know it goes hand in hand,
If you dare to dream, dare to dream,
Dare to dream of livin’ in the homeland.

And, they call gay people militant? That’s another debate for another day (and one we’ve had before…). But, one can’t help but find it ridiculously funny that Harris, Perkins and Co. believe they are the ones whose rights are under attack. I see no proposed constitutional amendments seeking to limit their rights. I see no organized movement to send Christians to “ex-Christian” camps. I see no state legislatures taking up “Don’t say Christian” bills. I see no school principals or school boards in mass denying the formation of Christian school groups or expelling heterosexual students and their boyfriends or girlfriends.

It’s a topsy-turvy world Harris and Perkins live in. The whole weight of a discriminatory body of law weighs down on the lives of LGBT people, yet it’s the WASP-y Christians who are oppressed? Talk about delusional.  Continue reading this post…

Peter St. Onge

The Charlotte Observer last week noted their slate of 36 different awards and honors from the N.C. Press Association. Among them was columnist Peter St. Onge, who was honored with awards for three columns on LGBT issues — two in the serious columns category and one in the lighter columns category.

The first serious column honor included one on his gay brother and his impending marriage in New York. A snippet:

This week, N.C. legislators dug in harder on keeping the wedding day away from gays, approving a constitutional amendment outlawing homosexual marriage that will go before voters next May. Our state already has a law against gay marriage, of course, but a consititutional amendment is harder to change than a simple law. Gay marriage opponents know it’s their best chance at defending an institution they believe is under attack.

That’s a word – attack – that sneaks often into this gay marriage debate. And also this word: agenda. It’s how those who fear homosexuality separate gays from the rest of us, by painting them as “others,” as an occupying force that wants to diminish the things we hold important.

St. Onge was also honored for his serious column on the Mecklenburg County Commission’s inadequate response to Commissioner Bill James’ “sexual predator” comments. The kicker:

What did politeness accomplish Tuesday night? We got a thoughtfully worded resolution that opposed, in principle, speech that could hurt others. We also saw several members of Charlotte’s gay community speak eloquently on the issue and remind everyone, with their presence, that there’s pain at the other end of the arrows people fling.

Lastly, St. Onge’s lighter column on Wells Fargo’s rainbow lights show on its Uptown Duke Energy Building on National Coming Out Day in October 2010 also received a nod. In it, St. Onge recounted Wells Fargo’s fumbling over questions about who requested and decided to “light the Southern city’s evening sky with a 48-story stamp of approval for a gay and lesbian event.”

Congratulations, Peter! And, thank you. Charlotte is much better place because of your outspokenness and word wizardry.