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NC – Cowardice: Wake County Commissioners vote for pro-bigot amendment resolution, no roll call

Take a good look at the man in the photo — that’s Paul Coble (@PaulCobleNC), Chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. Today he and his colleagues voted on and passed a resolution (PDF) in support of Amendment One — the May 8 ballot initiative that would eliminate domestic partnerships already in place in some cities and counties, and preclude any consideration of civil unions for same-sex or opposite-sex couples.

Coble was clearly unprepared to deal with all of the opposition to the resolution, as over 100 people filled the chamber to give public remarks against it. In fact, a couple of Wake residents chided the chair for refusing to look them in the eye.

That was just the beginning of the cowardice. During debate, he attempted to say the resolution wasn’t even urging how residents in the county should vote on the amendment, which is hogwash. Why submit a resolution as public officials when you can always give your private opinion on the matter?

Debate from the meeting:

Scandalously, when the vote was taken, Coble refused to allow a roll call. Everyone who was live Tweeting today (#wakeresolution), erupted when that was announced. But the ugly truth is this is simply a political football for Coble. He is running for US Congress in the 13th Congressional District this year and wants to burnish his “conservative creds.” (Raw Story):

The co-founder of an organization opposing the amendment told Raw Story that the the resolution was “political pandering” on the part of Coble.

“Many municipalities, including the City of Raleigh, have adopted resolutions opposing the Amendment thus far,” Neighbors for Equality Executive Director Tyler McCall told Raw Story. “Now, Wake County, under the leadership of Republican Chair Paul Coble, is moving the home county of our state’s capital back.”

“It is also important to note that Coble is running for U.S. Congress in the 13th district this year,” he added. “We can only imagine that the move to adopt this resolution is an instance of political pandering as he seeks to mobilize his supporters in the 13th district.”

The only creds that Coble earned today were as a liar, coward, and a bigot. Perhaps it’s just a sign that he’s right in line with the NCGOP’s propensity to try to obfuscate and dodge public scrutiny when their bigot slip is showing. The legislative leadership made sure there wasn’t any public debate when the amendment language was passed, so he’s in good company.

In my earlier post, I highlighted some of the public comments (23 out of 24 were against the resolution, with the one in favor from a paid anti-gay lobbyist, Tami Fitzgerald).

Tami Fitzgerald, speaking on behalf of Support Marriage NC, was the lone speaker in favor of the gay marriage ban, which will appear on a statewide ballot in May.

…”There’s a lot of more voters in wake county support this amendment than the handful of activists in this room,” said Fitzgerald, a registered lobbyist for several Christian and family causes.

One electrifying bit of testimony came from a NC State student.

“Our GLBT center at N.C. State was vandalized during the two weeks that this was in committee,” he explained. “The words ‘fags die’ and ‘go to hell’ were put on the doors for everyone to see.”

“While the resolution that you are talking about tonight do not have the words ‘fags die’ or ‘go to hell’ written in it, the intent is the same,” he added. “You are telling me that I’m a second-class citizen because of the way you feel here. I strongly support equality and I hope that you do as well and will not allow this to pass today.”

What this should be seen as is a wake-up call for Wake County residents; Raleigh may be fairly progressive, but the larger surrounding areas of Wake are sending wingnuts to serve in elected bodies and they come up with this kind of bigoted, retrograde, useless and damaging, polarizing resolution. Folks in Durham and Orange Counties never have had to face a piece of trash resolution like this, in fact there has been clear opposition to the amendment; be there should not be any complacency. Fair-minded people in all of the Triangle are going to have to get out, talk to your neighbors in those more conservative areas and shake some sense into them — discrimination has no place in our state constitution.

UPDATE: The News & Observer reports on the vote breakdown:

The vote came along party lines, with Republicans Paul Coble, Tony Gurley, Phil Matthews and Joe Bryan supporting the motion and Democrats Erv Portman, James West and Betty Lou Ward opposing it.

And look at this: If you visit @PaulCobleNC‘s Facebook page – he crows about “victory”:

Marriage = One Man + One Woman.” “I am proud to stand and defend Amendment One and Traditional Marriage whenever detractors come calling.”

There is a gallery of photos from the meeting by Bill Sandifer of Pamlico Press on Picasa. A few:



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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding