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NC’s GOP-led ruin: working hard not to create jobs, but to go after gays, Latinos…and enter wombs, bedrooms

It was all too predictable. I wish that I could kick the @sses of the “reasonable but disengaged” NC voters — and there are way too many of them — who were too lazy/apathetic to cast a ballot to avoid the calamity we are witnessing now. That and the wreck of a state Dem party.

First we had the 2010 Teabagger avalanche that resulted in the first GOP super-majority in our General Assembly since Reconstruction, and now, with the election of Pat McCrory (@PatMcCroryNC ) as Governor in 2012 we are seeing an institutional rollback of progressive progress in this state that is mind-blowing. He has set about, with his appointments and nominations to run various agencies, to unfold a full-blown social conservative power grab that is grotesque on so many levels. In this cycle we witnessed the Teahadist focus on Latino-bashing, gay bashing, womb control, even boobie exposure control…and my latest personal “favorite” — the marital activities of heterosexual couples.

Take Republican State. Sen. Austin Allran (right).  He has decided that NC married couples need to have a 2-year waiting period before they can divorce. And they need to attend counseling and pass state muster before proceeding.  Here are the new requirements, according to the bill introduced on Thursday (emphasis are Allran’s):

 50?6.  Divorce after separation of one yeartwo?year waiting period on application of either party.

(a)        Marriages may be dissolved and the parties thereto divorced from the bonds of matrimony on the application of either party, if and when the party upon satisfying the following requirements before filing for divorce under this section:

(1)        The husband and wife have lived separate and apart for one year,and themet a two?year waiting period. The spouse seeking the divorce shall give a written notice of intent to file for divorce to the other spouse at the beginning of the two?year waiting period. The notice of intent shall be properly acknowledged in accordance with Chapter 10B of the General Statutes. During the two?year waiting period, there is no requirement that the husband and wife live separate and apart.

(2)        During the two?year waiting period, the husband and wife have each completed courses on (i) improving communication skills and (ii) conflict resolution. Courses required by this subdivision do not have to be completed together as a couple.

(3)        If a couple has a child, the husband and wife have each completed a course of at least four hours on the impact of divorce on children.

Let’s see…how predictable. I raised the issue of how the NC GOP was going to go after straight folks next after they steamrolled Amendment One through to bar gay and lesbian couples from marrying. I blogged time and again that every woman’s womb and every couples’ bedroom door was going to be entered by the party of small government. Voters didn’t pay attention to ample reporting about what the promise of Republican rule would bring — hello, transvaginal ultrasound before you can obtain an abortion.

Who’s sorry now?

The GOP down here is so power mad that it has thrown any caution to the wind, ignoring grand poobah Reince Preibus’s infamous post-2012 election party “autopsy” calling for more inclusive communications strategies to attract moderate voters in the wake of its smackdown. It even intimated a new a soft-sell to LGBTs and Latinos, two groups that historically have been in the center of the bulls-eye for this party when it came to balls-out demonization of the worst sort. McCrory’s contribution to “outreach”?

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s (R) contribution to this effort is to unexpectedly close the state’s Latino Affairs office, an office that normally engaged with Latino leaders on policy, offered bilingual assistance for disaster victims, and collected demographic statistics on the state’s 800,000 Latino residents.

The governor’s office said it will shift some of the office’s duties to a general office for community and constituent affairs. “We are committed to serving the needs of all of North Carolina’s citizens,” McCrory’s chief of staff said. “We don’t segment our constituents by race or cultural background, any more than we separate them by age or gender.”

But Latino advocates criticize the decision. Executive Director of Latin American Coalition in Charlotte Jess George told McClatchy, “The message from Raleigh is that Latinos in North Carolina don’t matter.”

The LGBT community has continued to be engaged in what is a long-term battle while we wait for federal action on our basic civil rights. It continues to be in the wake of this governing disaster, working with allies to keep issues at the forefront, still pushing for progress in what is an uphill battle these days. For instance, pushing for anti-discrimination legislation here in a state where you can be fired for your sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Via Equality NC:

Senator Josh Stein (D-Wake) on Thursday introduced Senate Bill 544, Nondiscrimination in State Employment, legislation intended to amend the State Personnel Act to protect state employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

A companion bill, House Bill 429, sponsored by Representatives Paul Luebke (D-Durham), Marcus Brandon (D-Guilford), Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland), and Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), was also introduced this week.

“No state employee should experience discrimination on the job because of the color of their skin, their age, their religion, where they were born, any disability they may have, or who they love,” said Sen. Stein. “We need to update current laws to secure this fundamental protection for our diverse workforce in state government.”

The bills will be the focus of Equality NC’s upcoming LOBBY DAY of Action, April 16 (

One of the bright spots in our state is that we have a fully enumerated anti-bullying law to protect gay and trans students. However, continuing the assault on LGBTs, Gov. McCrory this week nominated a homophobe of epic proportions who opposed this law, and what position is A. L. “Buddy” Collins on tap for? A slot on the State Board of Education. Amanda Terkel at Huff Po has an excellent piece on just what a horror Collins represents.

A. L. “Buddy” Collins is an attorney and a longtime member of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board of Education. He has clashed with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) over the years surrounding the group’s efforts to stop bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Buddy Collins has always been a retrograde voice, inimical to the interests of youth, on the school board,” said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. “He has directly tried to block efforts to fully understand [students’] experiences in the service of making things better in schools in his district.”

How bad is it? Well,  first-hand experience from a NC resident, Matt Comer who now editor of the Charlotte-based LGBT news outlet QNotes, attended school under Collins’ watch and graduated in 2004.

“Every time this issue [of LGBT bullying] came before the school board, Buddy Collins voted against it. Buddy Collins was a ringleader in making sure GLSEN had no access to the schools.”

And bullying was indeed a problem at Comer’s high school. He started a gay-straight alliance there, in part because there was no support network for students who were facing harassment — both from their peers and from the adults who were supposed to protect them.

“No one was doing anything,” said Comer. “The bullying was rampant, and it was not just from students. School officials were also engaging in anti-gay behavior and making anti-gay remarks. I heard many of those remarks myself. It was very frustrating for students because we felt like we had to do everything on our own, and the only support we had at the time was from [local LGBT groups].”

“It was not just that teachers or coaches were making anti-gay comments, but school board members were making anti-gay comments too,” he added. “So from the very top down, there was a very open, well-known and well-documented hostility toward LGBT people from the adults in our lives.”

Collins wrote an infamous 2002 op-ed in the Winston-Salem Journal entitled “Tolerance, respect don’t mean acceptance.” That’s tame considering the quotes within. He believes that GLSEN is using public schools “as a place to seek acceptance of its sexual practices” and its public workshops as a mean to recruit children by exposing them to “dangerous homosexual sex acts.” He saw no reason for  anti-bullying protections in schools.

“I think it has everything to do with whether people who are gay and lesbian have some sort of special right that everybody else doesn’t. This request could have been made by people with overweight children or kids with glasses or any other thing that children pick on other children for.”

This man faces only a rubber stamp approval from our Republican-led General Assembly, so we can look forward to his imprint on the school system as North Carolina begins expansion of publicly funded charter schools.

It really is a sad state of affairs in NC. And about that “boobie exposure control”? Just to leave you with a priority of GOP lawmakers here — House Bill 34 would make it a Class H felony to expose your boobage for the “purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.”

The bill expands the state’s definition of “private parts” to include a woman’s “nipple, or any portion of the areola.” Under the proposed law, women could spend up to six months in jail for a first offense. “Incidental” nipple exposure by breastfeeding mothers would be exempt from the law.

…But Committee Chairwoman Rep. Sarah Steven (R) suggested that women could use pasties or nipple coverings just to be safe. They’d be good to go” with nipple coverings, Stevens said. “You know what they say, duct tape fixes everything,” Republican state Rep. Tim Moore agreed.

We are screwed here until we can toss these fools out.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding