In a replay of the Republican stealth attack on the labor movement in Wisconsin, the GOP has launched a sneak attack on the LGBT community of gays, lesbians, transgendered and bisexual citizens in North Carolina -- the nation's most embattled battleground state.
According to news reports stemming from WRAL-TV in Raleigh, the Republican covert operation to attack gay rights has been blown wide open.
According to reports broadcast by Laura Leslie of WRAL, here is the scenario:
- The North Carolina General Assembly will be the field of battle;
- The Republican Senate Caucus has launched a nefarious plan;
- Under the guise of a debate on term limits, the Republicans will strip out the language of the bill and substitute a ban on gay marriage;
- The same covert plan is operative in the NC House of Representatives and will run concurrently.
The Republicans' covert plan was leaked to WRAL by an anonymous whistleblower, who explained the extremist rationale behind the covert legislative strategy:
"We need to reach out to them and get them (gays) to change their lifestyle back to the one we accept."
The deliberate and stealthy Republican moves began to unfold on Friday. Senate staff attorney, Susan Sitze sent the new amendment against gay marriage to members of the Senate Judiciary I Committee. Approximately 40 minutes later, the Senate Calendar was posted for the public proclaiming that the topic under discussion on Monday by Senate Judiciary I Committee would be: "Speaker/Pro Tem Term Limits."
When word began to seep out that something intriguing was afoot, the office of Senate leader Phil Berger responded. Berger's Chief of Staff, Jim Blaine, defended the public posting of one bill, when the members will actually be discussing another: "Under Senate rules, we don't have to notice meetings until midnight the day of the meeting, and at the same time send out a PCS (Proposed Committee Substitute)."
When Laura Leslie challenged Blaine about switching the topic of the meeting from term limits to marriage rights, Blaine responded with the obtuse comment,
"Well, that's the name of the bill. We are in no way, shape or form trying to hide this. If we wanted to sneak this through, we'd put it out Monday at noon. If you notice the members of the committee on Friday, it's public domain."
After the news media sniffed the odor of a sneak attack on gay rights, the Republicans began to buckle. On Saturday afternoon, the Senate staff corrected the public notice of the meeting in a thinly disguised ploy to coverup the now open secret that their cover had been blown by the astute reporter for WRAL, Laura Leslie.
The legal implications of the Republican sneak attack on gays would have been in violation of North Carolina's Open Meetings Law that mandates adequate public notice of meetings and debates over proposed legislation.
Rumors now coursing through Raleigh's political establishment suggest that the Republican National Committee ordered the clumsy sneak attack. Some are zeroing in on the Chairman of the RNC, Reince Preibus, who hails from Wisconsin, a state now riven by extremist carnage and Ground Zero in the stealthy Republican assault on organized labor. Because of Republican moves to advance their anti-gay marriage amendment, North Carolina is now Ground Zero in their national campaign against gays.
One senior political observer based in Raleigh said, "This sneaky ploy has Reince Preibus's fingerprints all over it."
While attending a meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Chicago, the Chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party, David Parker was swift to respond. Parker issued a hard-hitting statement comparing this political ploy to recent Republican attempts to resegregate schools in North Carolina and to limit voting rights by requiring Photo IDs at polling places.
Regardless of how you feel about the North Carolina law that already makes gay marriage illegal, it is simply un-American to single out any group of law-abiding citizens to harass and torment. Every time we select a set of folks to exclude from America's dream of a better life, we lose. The Founding Fathers did not let women vote. They counted African Americans as three fifths of a person. They required voters to own land. Most were fine with education being private. But times have changed. Strong women of both political parties serve us all in the US Senate, the Governor's office, the General Assembly and in countless local offices. But the Republicans in the General Assembly want to reduce the impact of strong women. The Republicans in the General Assembly and Pat McCrory want to confuse folks with legalese on this issue. And for what reason? North Carolinians know the ban on gay marriage will not create any jobs or make their lives any better. We are tired of distractions. The Republicans in the legislature and Pat McCrory have done nothing to help the middle class in North Carolina. They're just trying to tap dance their way through the year, distract us with their footwork, and avoid fixing our economy. Enough is enough. Grow up, Pat, and take some responsibility. If you really want to be Governor, you're going to have focus on things other than who can vote and who can get married.
A long-serving member of the North Carolina Democratic State Executive Committee, Vinod Thomas of Cornelius reacted, "What makes it so insidious is they are not debating in the open by disguising the meeting as term limits instead of gay marriage."
Thomas sees the Republican Party flip-flopping for purely political purposes.
"When I spoke Thom Tillis, the Speaker of the House, I asked why he flip-flopped on issues that he supported when Republicans were in the minority. For example, Tillis supported non-partisan redistricting when he was in the minority, but now that he is in the majority, he opposes it. Tillis's claim was that states faced with high unemployment and a large budget shortfall need to concentrate on those issues and simply do not have time to discuss the matters that they previously championed. I find this explanation to be disingenuous because discussing same-sex marriage will do nothing to create any jobs or alleviate the budget shortfall. I feel confident in saying that the vast majority of North Carolinians place a higher emphasis on helping our economy and aiding our public schools rather than bashing our friends and neighbors in the LGBT community."
In North Carolina, the LGBT community was swift to respond. Equality NC set up an informative page on its website calling for immediate action. Telephone calls to legislators are now hammering Republicans for this attempt to abuse the open meetings law in order to launch a new wave of repression against gays.
One of the founders of Facebook, Chris Hughes, hails from North Carolina. Hughes set up a Facebook page backing Equality NC and pledged to contribute $10,000 to support the LGBT rights organization. In an open letter to the North Carolina General Assembly, Hughes argues that anti-gay legislation is very bad for the business climate while it deprives gay families of respect and equality and subjects them to "derogatory and harmful anti-gay rhetoric."
The Republican anti-gay amendment is designed to ostracize and suppress the entire LGBT community by stigmatizing homosexuality. The intention of the legislation is to deny LGBT couples the most fundamental legal protections by emphasizing that they are only second-class citizens undeserving of respect and equal treatment under the law. This legal stigma fans the flames of the pandemic of suicide sweeping through the youngest generation of the LGBT community. Actually, it's perfectly despicable.