Update (Feb. 4, 2013, 1:10 p.m.): Be sure to head over to QNotes to read the editorial, “Critics of Boy Scout policy should follow Scouters’ lead,” published this morning.

Boy Scouts Memorial, Washington, D.C. Inscription: This memorial was authorized by the Congress of the United States and directed in recognition of the fiftieth anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America in grateful tribute to the men and women whose generosity devotion and leadership have brought Scouting to the nation's youth and to honor all members of the Boy Scouts of America who in days of peace and times of peril have their duty to God and their country. Photo: Elvert Barnes, via Flickr. Licensed CC.

There was much controversy this past week as news broke that the national board of the Boy Scouts of America would be considering ending their national anti-gay membership and leadership policy.

“This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs,” Scouts spokesperson Deron Smith said in a statement. “BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.”

Smith also promised that the Scouts’ national leaders would “not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents” and that the national body “would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”

The news of this week is stunning, reversing decades of exclusion of gay men and boys from participation in the nation’s preeminent organization for training and equipping young men with the tools, principles and values necessary for becoming good citizens.

There’s no firm deadline determined for making the decision, but it could come down as soon as this coming week’s national executive board meeting. And, in the meantime, LGBT and progressive leaders are speaking out with a variety of talking points, some helpful and others I believe ignore the reality of this small bit of forward movement, the chink in the armor of the Scouts’ long-standing discriminatory practices that will inevitably give way to extraordinary progress.  Continue reading this post…

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…