CommunityPam's House Blend

Blend Exclusive: interview with Jennifer Roberts on CharMeck gay rights initiatives


Making it happen in NC: Commissioners Jennifer Roberts and Parks Helms support adding gays and lesbians to CharMeck’s anti-discrimination laws and partner benefits. One the other side, Commissioner Bill James, below, has concluded that the issue is about sex — and he’s the perv.

UPDATE: See Bill James’s latest foul smear campaign following this interview.

May 17 is going to be a landmark day for Mecklenburg County, NC — a resolution to include sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination laws will be on the agenda of the County Commissioners meeting. You’ll recall that Commissioners Parks Helms and Jennifer Roberts expected a firestorm from the bible-beating, homo-hating Right when they planned to introduce this measure (and possibly to consider domestic partner benefits at a future time).

They didn’t have to wait long, as fellow Commissioner Bill James unleashed an unbelievably unhinged email that shows you the level of ignorance and bigotry that Helms and Roberts are up against. House Blenders responded with some interesting email exchanges with James that solidly proved that rational thinking about the matter isn’t on his agenda.


From: Commissioner Bill James
To: =emails deleted=
Sent: Friday, April 29, 2005 8:56 AM
Subject: Perversity is not diversity

You really think that a pool of people (homosexuals) where 45% of them eat feces from the rear end of another male is “normal”? If you do, you are frankly nuts.

A lifestyle where one of their past times is buying gerbils and hamsters from the pet store and cramming them up their rears in an activity called feltching? A group of people who like to urinate on their partners and call them “golden showers”? Where one of the honored members of the Gay Alliance is an organization called the “Man-Boy Love Association” that promotes sex with underage boys?

It went on and on.

***

Now that the initial proposal to add sexual orientation to the County’s anti-discrimination law is going to be on the table, I spoke with Jennifer Roberts to see how she’s weathering the pressure, what the prospects are for the measures to be adopted, and, well, why she’s put herself in the middle of this political maelstrom.

Roberts is new to the political arena; she was elected in 2004. She serves on four committees: Natural Resources, Effective & Efficent Government and Economic Development, and the Community Building & Diversity committee. This initiative did not come out of this committee, however, it came directly from Commissioner Parks Helms. She credits Helms, her political mentor, for shepherding the initiative and showing her the ropes. “He has 20 years of tremendous leadership on this, weathering political storms; I want your readers to know how committed he is to diversity and fairness.”

Both Roberts and Helms (no relation to Jesse), are getting plenty of feedback on his decision to promote the addition of sexual orientation to CharMeck’s anti-discrimination law, and at this point, she says the emails that she’s received are running about equal, pro and con, with fewer objecting to the anti-discrimination measure. She wants to focus on that measure to stir discussion and debate; it motivates her. “I believe that discrimination is never right; its impact can be so negative, long lasting, and far reaching.” In fact, a reporter from the Rhino Times (a local conservative/libertarian publication) Roberts said, didn’t see what the big deal was about the anti-discrimination initiative. She points out that the business community has led on this issue in Charlotte. Bank of America, Wachovia, Duke Energy — all have anti-discrimination policies. “A policy of fairness helps recruitment and retention and creates an atmosphere of respect for all employees. The private sector has known for a long time that it’s good for business. The difference with the County is that these issues are open to public debate and discussion and people want their say.”

More often than not, people tend to fixate on the domestic partnership benefits (DPB) issue, which is actually not being discussed at next week’s Commissioners meeting. “Those who are against it usually do so from a religious/morals standpoint.” Even so, when that measure is eventually discussed, it’s clear some community education is in order. Many of those that object have cited the “cost” of providing benefits for same-sex partners, when in fact, Roberts noted, the County doesn’t pay for spousal health care premiums. The employee’s is covered; the policy simply allows a spouse to be on the plan, but they must pay the full premium. It means the cost issue is a red herring once people are given the facts.

It disappoints Roberts that people focus on sex and emotions on these matters and make an erroneous connection between religious, sacramental marriage and civil marriage, and wrongly assume that anything to do with gay rights must be about gay marriage. “The Right is good at that; there are a lot of people trying to divide the community.” The wingnuts are already trying to hijack the religious black community to marshal a more sizeable opposition. “Bill James has been in communication with religious leaders to make this a wedge issue. There are others that aren’t buying into these tactics.”


Philip Davis plans to let his bigoted views be known at the next business meeting of the CharMeck County Board of Commissioners.

In fact, two ministers plan to attend next week’s meeting. Bishop Philip Davis, of Nations Ford Community Church in Charlotte and Dan Burelle of Northside Baptist Chuch are likely to arrive with parishioners in tow to protest. Burelle has already launched a shot over the bow:

Dan Burrell, senior pastor of Northside Baptist Church, is organizing an e-mail campaign to counter efforts to provide the benefits. He said he’s opposed to it for fiscal and moral reasons. “We’re doing an e-mail campaign and trying to get the troops rallied,” Burrell said. “I believe this is an issue around which fiscal conservatives and moral conservatives can unite.” He said county officials, by design, will likely underestimate the cost of extending benefits to same-sex couples, Burrell said his moral opposition to the proposal is driven by faith. “Civilizations for thousands of years have never recognized homosexual unions,” Burrell said.

Roberts feels that, this no different than other times in history, where core beliefs held by people have been responsible for reprehensible behavior. “Look at slavery, the Crusades, the Salem Witch Hunts, six million Jews murdered in World War II…there are so many opportunities to learn from the past. I feel very strongly that this is an ethical and moral issue to do the right thing.”

Yes, religious convictions and biblical interpretations are being used once again to cover for bigotry, fear and ignorance.

However, it’s clear that the stridency of the Religious Reich is starting to get to the more moderate/Libertarian wing of the Republica
n party in the County. Roberts says that she’s spoken to several Republicans, and fellow Commissioners Jim Puckett and Dan Bishop, that “are getting uncomfortable with the hands-on, in-your-face tactics of the religious Right. The privacy issues are very interesting to me; people don’t want a policeman peeping with a flashlight into your bedroom — it’s not your business.”

As we’ve seen over and over on the Blend, some on the Reich very clearly want law enforcement and the government in our bedrooms, our wombs, our relationships. That’s not small government.

In Roberts’s own family, there is disagreement about these issues. She has relatives who don’t support the initiative for partnership benefits, their discomfort based on the feeling that it will somehow affect families. “Family is the be-all and end-all; anything different, outside the norm, is feared. The nuclear family, while it can be a very stable and supportive unit, is not the only family structure; others can work equally well.”

Roberts’ perspective on the blogs and mainstream media is that “blogging is another way to get information out — it’s a great way to organize and can help ensure that you don’t get misquoted.” The mainstream media, which purports to be objective, is something Roberts laughs off when I bring it up. “I don’t expect them to be objective. Their job is to try and sell newspapers; the fact that these initiatives were splashed on the top half of the newspaper tells you what they are interested in.”

I asked her about her concern about re-election; wingnut Bill James, who ran unopposed in his district, plans to make the political lives of supporters of these measures miserable. [I have no doubt that this publicity hound will work to import AmTaliban forces if things look like they aren’t going his way.] I noted that he freely claims that he represents over 100,000 residents. “Well, only two-thirds are registered to vote, and only a portion of them voted. He could have been elected by 5,000 people.” That said, she’s aware that he doesn’t shy away from controversial statements. “People are afraid to run against him,” said Roberts.

It was refreshing to speak with Jennifer Roberts. She is an example of a politician (like the Texas legislator Senfronia Thompson, who bravely spoke in the Texas legislature against bigotry toward gays and lesbians), who is willing to speak out for what is right, not what is politically expedient. It is here, at the local level, where change happens. We cannot wait for the national leadership of either party to get with the program; witness the shuffling and backpedaling of John Kerry (or substitute any establishment Dem name) on this issue. The future lies with putting people in office that actually have progressive convictions and gumption.


The Roberts family on the New River.

Email: jennifer@jenniferwroberts.net

The Jennifer Roberts web site: http://www.jenniferwroberts.net
Visit her site for more on her stand on the issues, newsletters, public appearances, and to contribute to her campaign.

Video of Parks Helms on human rights issues.

***
UPDATE: Bill James starts the smear campaign

I barely finished writing up this post about Jennifer Roberts when bigot Commissioner Bill James and his supporters started spamming the commissioners opposing the anti-discrimination measures, quoting scripture, spewing ridiculous “facts”.. I was forwarded some of this ignorant drivel. I had to follow up with her to ask whether James has anything better to do besides emailing his hate-filled, bible-beating nonsense. Roberts said:

“He has no other job. He does not give public meetings, attend community awards ceremonies and school openings, or serve on boards of community organizations, as most of the rest of the commisssioners do. He just emails all day.”

He’s in rare form (again):

Email to the Commissioners and the Charlotte Observer about the measure to include gays and lesbians in the County’s anti-discrimination law.

From: Commissioner Bill James
To: =emails deleted=
Sent: Friday, May 13, 2005 4:40 PM
Subject: Agenda item 31

I notice that Parks put on the agenda a change in our policy regarding the groups that are considered protected classes of individuals for purposes of affirmative action.

In regards to this agenda item I have some questions:

1. The policy change adds the term “sexual orientation” yet I can find no reference to what that term means in the materials supplied.. What is the definition of “sexual orientation? Sexual orientation usually means alternative sexual lifestyles other than heterosexual including:

* Homosexual (meaning men who believe that they are born to have sex with other men) * Lesbian (meaning women who believe that they are born to have sex with other women) * Bi-sexual (meaning individuals who believe that they are born to have sex with both men and women) * Trans-gendered (meaning surgical alternation of one’s sexual gender because the believe they were born “wrong” so that they can engage in sex with someone) * Bigamist (meaning individuals who believe that they were born for one man to have many women or one woman to have many men) * Pedophiles (meaning men or women – generally male homosexuals – who believe that they are born to have sex with children – One member of the gay alliance is the “Man-Boy Love Association” – see http://www.nambla.org/. It says, in part: “NAMBLA’s goal is to end the extreme oppression of men and boys in mutually consensual relationships ) * Practicing Bestiality (meaning men or women who believe that they were born to have sex with animals)

2. The policy indicates that individuals considered as part of a protected class will be tracked in various statistical studies. What does this mean? Are we do do studies of the above classes of sexual orientations in the same way that we do studies of Race?

3. The policy says that the County will use this list of protected individuals and use “affirmative recruitment efforts” to attempt to reduce any “underutilization” of these groups which may exist in any established job category. This sounds to me like the County will be using affirmative action to promote homosexuals and others above those of heterosexual employees if the number of homosexuals does not equal the requisite percentage.

4. How can the board of County Commissioners promote activity (sexual orientation however defined) that is against NC law and other policies regarding the education of children. While the recent Supreme Court decision in Lawrence V Texas made the prosecution of some of the above behavior unlawful in the privacy of one’s homes it did not according to the DA and others invalidate the law or the State’s condemnation of the behavior. If the state condemns a behavior, how can Mecklenburg County promote it by making it a protected class? If we can make homosexuals a protected class could we also make moonlighting prostitutes or bigamists protected as well?

Commissioner Bill James
Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners
Matthews, North Carolina
http://billjames.org
Wjames@carolina.rr.com

***
More nonsense from James…

From: “Commissioner Bill James”
Date: Fri,
May 13, 2005 1:44 pm
To: =emails deleted=
Priority: High

it is a choice. It is also a sin and unhealthy.

Why should County employees who find the behavior sinful ( and illegal under NC law) be forced to accept it?

The Demo’s are intent on running off the rest of the church going crowd that votes for them.

That is there choice. The GOP will be smiling all the way to the election booth.

If passed the GOP will reverse at the first meeting of the new board.

Commissioner Bill James
Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners
Matthews, North Carolina
http://billjames.org
Wjames@carolina.rr.com

Corinthians 6: 9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 12″Everything is permissible for me”but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”but I will not be mastered by anything. 13″Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”[b] 17But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Tim 1:8 Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

***

From: Commissioner Bill James [mailto:wjames@carolina.rr.com]
Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2005 9:44 PM
To: =emails deleted=
Subject: Pastors rally to oppose homosexual benefits

Thank you for your note. I look forward to hearing your comments this Tuesday though it is my understanding it is not on the agenda. A variety of ministers (Black and white) from the inner-city to suburbia are lining up to oppose this. See letter from an African-American pastor in Charlotte below.

“As an African-American pastor, I understand the arguments about discrimination; however this is not a matter of discrimination based on race, which is beyond the individual’s control. This is a matter of individuals choosing to live in a homosexual relationship and violate the biblical pattern for family. “

“….when individuals choose to live a deviant lifestyle and desires to utilize public tax dollars to support that choice, it becomes the business of taxpayers and all the citizens”
– Bishop Phillip M. Davis, Nations Ford Community Church, Charlotte

Other pastors have also lined up including the Senior Minister of Northside Baptist (Dr. Dan Burrell).

As you probably know, I will not be voting for it. The activity is illegal and extremely unhealthy to engage in. Numerous health risks exist for those that practice this activity. It was quite divisive for Mr. Helms to bring the matter up.

Parks Helms is also in favor of homosexual marriage, you can ask him about that……….see below………..

“The sanctity of marriage is created by the husband and the wife or by the partners who choose it. You do not legislate it” (meaning marriage)……..

“Some men love men, Some women love women, What’s wrong with that.” “That’s what we were taught to do”
— Parks Helms (speaking in support of homosexual marriage) June 1, 2004 at a County Commission Meeting

See video of the above at the link below (approx 2min 10 sec) – MPEG 1

link

Commissioner Bill James
Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners
Matthews, North Carolina
http://billjames.org
Wjames@carolina.rr.com

***

Subject: RE: Pastors rally to oppose homosexual benefits
From: “Commissioner Bill James”
Date: Fri, May 13, 2005 11:28 am
To: “‘James Akers'”

Yes I know. The GOP will be opposing. The Declaration does not cover perversity. In any event, the GOP is committed to reversing it once we take back over the board. Between the tax increases the Democrats are about to adopt and the promotion of homo’s the narrow electoral victory of Roberts and Rembert will be short lived.

Enjoy it while you can. Don’t forget that the reason the Democrats lost across the country last year was the public’s revulsion of homo’s, the promotion and passage of anti-homo marriage amendments and a belief founded on fact that the Democrats are the party that has abandoned faith. They are the party of the heathen.

Commissioner Bill James
Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners
Matthews, North Carolina
http://billjames.org
Wjames@carolina.rr.com

***

A black homo-bigot pastor falls into line…

From The Office of
Bishop Phillip M. Davis
Nations Ford Community Church

Thursday, May 12, 2005

To: The Board of County Commissioners
Mecklenburg County
Subject: Domestic Partner Benefits for County Employees

Dear Sirs and Madams;

I greet you on behalf of the members and leaders of Nations Ford Community Church. Although the issue of Domestic Partner Benefits for county employees may not be an official agenda item for you at this point, it is my hope that you will not entertain it as such in the days ahead. With all due respect I would urge you to reject this item as being worthy of consideration.

What a private citizen does and how one behaves in the privacy of their, own homes, is a choice that he or she makes and even then we have laws to prevent behavior that is outside the norms of our community culture. However when individuals choose to live a deviant lifestyle and desires to utilize public tax dollars to support that choice, it becomes the business of taxpayers and all the citizens.

For those who choose to live in cohabitating homosexual relationships and call it domestic partners, then expect the public to pay for any portion of that choice is wrong. For our county government to even consider funding any portion of benefits for those living in violation of the culture norm, the moral standards and the biblical pattern of marriage and family is wron
g.

As an African-American pastor, I understand the arguments about discrimination; however this is not a matter of discrimination based on race, which is beyond the individual’s control. This is a matter of individuals choosing to live in a homosexual relationship and violate the biblical pattern for family.

I trust that each of you as representative of the citizens of Mecklenburg County would resist the temptation to entertain this issue and focus the resources of the county on educating our children and improving our schools, roads and services.

Sincerely,

Bishop Phillip M. Davis
Nations Ford Community Church
Charlotte

Previous post

Tar Heel Tavern at Pam's House Blend

Next post

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding