CommunityPam's House Blend

Woohoo! This one should go over big with the fundy crowd here in NC. I just hope it gets media play. From Raw Story and BlogActive: Friends of grandaughter of anti-gay Senator Jesse Helms say she’s a lesbian; Upset she uses him as “motivating factor” in campaign. Jesse is legend here, and the fact that there are homo genes floating around in his pool is going to drive more than a few bonkers.

The granddaughter of Senator Jesse Helms, whom many consider the most anti-gay legislator in U.S. history and who is touting him during her elective campaign, is herself a partnered lesbian, friends of the couple tell RAW STORY.

Jennifer Knox, granddaughter of the retired North Carolina Republican senator, has been in a committed relationship with her partner Shields Carstarphen for over three years, they say. Knox is vying to become a district judge in North Carolina; Carstarphen is the treasurer of her campaign.

Our sources, who asked RAW STORY to keep their names private, say they have known the parties for many years. They have also communicated with, a site known for reporting on closeted anti-gay politicians.

The site will report that the Republican Party, while refusing to answer questions about Knox’s sexuality, has mailed homophobic flyers in a state senate race.

Throughout his long career, Senator Helms consistently excoriated gays for their “revolting conduct” and “unnatural acts.” Calling Martin Luther King a “pervert,” he dubbed the 1964 Civil Rights Act “the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress.”

Knox and Carstarphen share a home in Raleigh, where they have lived for more than a year. They have an active social life in the Triangle area and travel together on vacations.

Knox’s mother confirmed that they resided together in a telephone conversation early this week, referring to Carstarphen as her roommate. Knox is 30.

Each of the sources expressed that they and their friends had wrangled with the consequences of outing Knox, but asserted that Knox’s decision to use Helms as a motivating force in her campaign pushed them to come forward.

When Knox announced her Wake County candidacy Apr. 30, she said Helms was the primary factor in driving her to run for elective office.

“He’s dedicated 30-plus years of his life to the American people and to the people of North Carolina and that has really made an impact on me,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing in making me want to go into elected office.”

These friends found the decision to bring Helms front and center in the campaign unacceptable.

“I think they’ve made a mistake,” one said. “I don’t feel good about throwing stones, but I don’t think this is right, and in today’s political climate I don’t think this type of hypocrisy should go on.”

The state’s Republican Party platform is unequivocal about homosexuality.

“We believe homosexuality is not normal and should not be established as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle either in public education or in public policy,” the platform states. “We do not believe public schools should be used to teach children that homosexuality is normal… We commend private organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, which defend moral decency and freedom.”

While it is in many ways a local story, this ranks up there with SC’s Strom Thurmond hiding his black daughter while railing on against civil rights.

At least this time it puts the hypocrisy front and center — while Jesse is still around to comment on it.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding