It's time to boycott North Carolina
"Different things can be treated differently if the things or people are in a very different relationship."
--North Carolina House Majority Leader Paul "Skip" Stam (R), referring to gay and lesbian same-sex couples and their eligiblity for civil equality, at a debate at UNC-CH Law School, 9/21/2011
Well, Skip this "thing" (a native North Carolinian, who pays her taxes and is in a legal marriage not recognized by my state already) is calling for a boycott of this great state. We have a state economy in the crapper (10.4% unemployment), a state budget in crisis, and quite a few pro-LGBT companies and institutions located here that don't deserve to be punished by a boycott.
However, you've left me no other choice based on the hateful, ignorant and quite pathetic display you put on at the debate today. You have debased your position of leadership, choosing to quite enthusiastically defend your support for Amendment 1 based on "traditions" that go back to 1669, back to a time when I would have been a slave that couldn't marry an opposite-sex partner, let alone a same-sex one. Talk about some serious privilege showing.
That's why I'm down with James Protzman of BlueNC, who lobbed the Boycott bomb today.
Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you will have noticed that the Republican Party in Raleigh has pulled a U-turn on progress in North Carolina. From draconian budget cuts that undermine public education to radical gerrymandering of electoral districts to the Anti-Marriage Amendment to discriminate against gay citizens, our state is going to hell in a handbasket - fast.
Fortunately, there is one language the Tarheel Taliban do understand: money.
For business people. If you are a person who decides where meetings, conferences, tradeshows, and such are held, our request is simple. Choose another state, and let the leaders of North Carolina know about your decision.
For individuals who don't live in North Carolina. Spend your vacation dollars somewhere else. Buy your goods and services from some other state.
Those of us already here in North Carolina who believe in freedom and equality are working hard to oust the Tarheel Taliban from office. Whatever support you can provide from beyond our borders will be most appreciated.
The Republicans in our General Assembly deserve the Tarheel Taliban moniker; everyone needs to know how they are winding back decades of cultural progress and economic growth in this state based on their fear, lies and utter BS.
In power for the first time since Reconstruction, the Republicans here could not wait to get their bigot on, with this amendment as a centerpiece of what they wanted to pass. Lawmakers Skip Stam, Dale Folwell, James Forrester, Thom Tillis, and Phil Berger and the rest of the hypocrites and pious preachers of discrimination clearly don't give a damn about the people's business -- getting more jobs into NC. It's easier to beat up on law-abiding, taxpaying residents of NC who happen to be LGBT.
By the way, these Republicans didn't do it on their own - they had Dem Tarheel Talibans cross over to share their homophobia with their votes.
Maybe they will respond when the desperately needed cash stops flowing in. Honestly, I think it's the only thing these pathetic, cowardly leaders know and understand -- the bottom line.
And let me be clear (and James may have a different POV on this), I'm not calling for a boycott of pro-equality businesses here in NC. However, my challenge to pro-equality businesses as people withhold their dollars from the state -- if you want to dodge some of the cultural crossfire in this political mess -- do more than just be against the amendment in principle; the bar is now higher in this polarized times.
Make your opposition to this amendment crystal clear -- if you really oppose this amendment, say so on your web sites, put a "No on Amendment 1" sign on your storefront. Set your business apart from those businesses that 1) don't give a damn and 2) want to fly under the radar and not take a public position. Silence allows the bigotry to get a pass if we remain silent.
A Personal View of Today's Debate
I hopped into my car, taking a long lunch to cover this debate on the marriage amendment in NC. I felt fortunate to be able to report live from at least one event; honestly it's pretty hard as one of the only NC-based LGBT-focused bloggers in cases like this, because I cannot devote much time to this important story. It was, quite gratifying to see local media (News14, WRAL are two I saw) at UNC-CH Law School there to report on Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam (R-Apex), faceing off against House Minority Whip Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland). My initial report here.
Sitting and watching Skip Stam strut into the classroom at UNC-CH School of Law today, I saw a man clearly confident and comfortable in his belief that his amendment is just and fair. It made my stomach turn. I sat in the front row and it was really about as close as I wanted to get to someone so blind to his privilege that he had no problem seeing me as a second-class citizen, and looked forward to ensuring it by altering our state constitution.
That he believes that "traditional marriage" has only meant one-man, one-woman in a legal, equal civil bond doesn't say much about his knowledge of history. Kudos to Rep. Rick Glazier, the voice of reason in the debate, who came prepared and ready to knock down the preposterous lies -- yes, lies -- Stam told today about the scope of the impact of this amendment.
I sat aghast as Stam proclaimed to the room that he did not believe his amendment constitutes a form of institutionalized bigotry, and that, along with banning same-sex marriages, its intent was to also make it clear that bigamy, polygamy and child marriage are banned, noting that "we can't have three-year-olds marrying." Um, right. This was the level of intelligence at work.
Even after Rick Glazier pointed out that the amendment wasn't just a restating of our existing state DOMA, but it banned any other recognition of same sex couples and places legal parenting rights, eligibility for housing and other basic matters in jeopardy, Stam just did the equivalent of placing his fingers in his ears and yelling "LA LA LA LA" to avoid the truth. Glazier also made him freeze up in "this doesn't compute" mode when he said to Republican "How many people/groups will we vote off of the civil rights island, Rep. Stam?" The attendees cheered, but Skip Stam stuck to his guns.
After all, gays and lesbians aren't people; we and our relationships are things to him. Does this thing have to pay taxes for this elected official to not only spew his bigotry, but for to legislate that it's OK to determine civil rights by mob rule via the ballot box?
I’m sure Liz Taylor loved all seven of her husbands."
-- House Minority Whip Rep. Rick Glazier
And no, Skip Stam didn't respond to that, either. The ease with which opposite-sex marriages self-destruct and are treated with a level of, ahem, flexibility given mucho adultery going on, doesn't enter the picture. That's a privilege apparently reserved only for heterosexuals under the law in Stam's World. What about the fact that Massachusetts, where marriage equality first blossomed has the lowest divorce rate in the country?
"LA LA LA LA..." from Skip Stam.
As I left, the most disturbing thought that crossed my mind is that it would not be hard to imagine Stam opposing Loving v. Virginia, or supporting death of Jim Crow, if he were a sitting lawmaker back then. After all, the level of hatred and ignorance is much the same, based on fear of change, the perceived loss of superiority or privilege. These are issues worthy of exploring on a couch with a therapist, not in making laws. I'd pity Stam except that he and his fellow Tarheel Taliban colleagues have way too much power. As far as I'm concerned they shouldn't have any influence -- and the don't represent the views of most North Carolinians, which makes the situation that much worse. Any elected official that refuses to place his/her legislation up for public debate and scrutiny doesn't understand transparency, ethics or principles involving governing the state of North Carolina.
And thus the call for a boycott - it's time for our business community to stand up and say why it should be business as usual with this amendment hanging over the reputation of this state.
Interested in letting NC know of your change of plans, future business decisions? Make sure to mention Skip Stam's quote about same-sex couples in NC and the amendment as your basis for your decisions.
* NC Chamber of Commerce
An aside -- thank you backatcha to all of the people attending today who recognized me and came up to say hello and to thank me for what I do. I still find it kind of odd when this happens, not in a bad way, of course, just because I'm a regular person like they are. Just doing my very small part to move things a bit closer to equality before I bite the dust.