by Chris Fitzsimon, NC Policy Watch and NC SPIN panelist, October 24, 2014.
The backlash over the federal court rulings about marriage equality in North Carolina took another ugly turn this week with the blessing and even encouragement of a top Republican official in the state, House Speaker Pro Tem Paul Stam.
Stam held a news conference Thursday to endorse a ridiculous proposal from Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger to allow magistrates and registers of deeds to refuse to marry same-sex couples if they claim it would violate their religious beliefs.
But marrying people who are eligible to be married is part of a magistrate’s job and same-sex couples are now eligible to be married under the recent federal court rulings.
As absurd as the idea is, it paled in comparison to the bigoted rhetoric at Stam’s news conference from a Fayetteville minister, Johnny Hunter with Cliffdale Community Church.
Hunter, with Stam standing behind him, called on John Arrowood, an openly gay candidate for the N.C. Court of Appeals, to withdraw from the race, calling him a “flaming homosexual” whose work against the marriage discrimination amendment in 2012 should somehow disqualify him from serving on the court.
Hunter didn’t stop there, asking “Why would I put a Klansman in charge of civil rights?”
Putting aside Hunter’s asinine logic—which would mean female judges could never hear arguments about gender discrimination or more to the point, a fundamentalist Christian shouldn’t be allowed on the court either—it’s hard to decide what’s more offensive, his bigoted rhetoric or that Stam stood idly by while he spewed it.
It harkens back to the public debate over the marriage discrimination amendment in 2011, when Republican lawmakers stood shoulder to shoulder with ministers who bellowed that gay people were an abomination and going to hell.
Somebody needs to ask Stam, and Thom Tillis and Pat McCrory for that matter, if they believe that being gay is similar to being part of the Klan and if they agree that gay men and women should not be allowed to be judges in North Carolina.
More jobs hyperbole from McCrory’s office
The spin machine in the governor’s office is working overtime these days, cranking out press releases for everything imaginable especially job announcements. And it doesn’t matter how many jobs are created.
This week Gov. McCrory’s office breathlessly announced that DuPont was adding 18 jobs to its sizable facility in Kinston. That’s right 18 jobs. And not all at once mind you, but over three years.
DuPont is an important employer in Kinston and already employs 750 people across the state and any well-paying jobs are welcome these days.
But a press release touting an announcement that a company is adding six jobs a year over the next three years?
And of course DuPont is receiving help for the small job creation, an $80,000 grant from the state. No way the company could afford to add all those jobs on its own.
It really does make you wonder where the incentives and the press releases stop. A new McDonald’s or Starbucks would employ more than six people. Will they start getting incentives too and will McCrory’s office starting issuing press releases when they open?
Don’t bet against it.
Unemployment insurance chief turned partisan political commentator
The folks at the Pope Civitas Institute are holding their final poll luncheon before the election next week—not the branch of the group that is working directly to help Republican candidates get elected, the branch that is supposed to be a nonpartisan organization issuing legitimate polls, though the two branches are run by the same people.
The guest speaker for the event is none other than Dale Folwell, currently the Assistant Secretary of Division of Employment Security—in other words the person who oversees the state’s unemployment insurance system.
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems a little unusual for a state official that is supposed to be in charge of making sure people get the their unemployment checks to be appearing as a political commentator at an event held by a right-wing group that advocated for slashing benefits and has a sister organization that runs attack ads against candidates.