North Carolina

Appeals Court Strikes Down Marriage Ban in Virginia, Ruling Will Also Affect Carolinas and West Virginia

Today the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Virginia’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

This is a historic step forward for equality in the South. Beyond Virginia, the ruling will also affect the other states covered by the 4th Circuit, including North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia, which have similar bans in place. In West Virginia, the district judge considering the challenge to the state’s ban said last month that he would not proceed until the federal appeals court had ruled.

In the majority opinion, the judges noted that bigotry and fear cannot be the basis for the denial of equal rights under the law:

We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws.

…The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual's life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.

For those who claim that marriage bans are legitimate because they were adopted by popular vote, the court quoted a Supreme Court case from 1964:

A citizen’s constitutional rights can hardly be infringed simply because a majority of the people choose that it be.

That one sentence perfectly encapsulates why courts matter.
 

PFAW Foundation

North Carolina GOP Senate Candidate Thom Tillis Marginalizes Minority Communities

In an interview recorded in September 2012, North Carolina Speaker of the House and U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis compared the growing population of African Americans and Latinos to a stagnant “traditional population of North Carolina and the United States.”

In an interview highlighted by Talking Points Memo, which first spotted the 2012 interview, a spokesman for Tillis claimed that “traditional North Carolinians refers to North Carolinians who have been here for a few generations.”

If you listen to the full context of Tillis’ remarks, however, it is clear that he was referring to the “traditional population” as a group distinct from the “Latino population” and the “African American population.”

Right Wing Watch points out that “traditional population” and “traditional Americans” are frequently used by anti-immigrant extremists as euphemisms for “white population.” For instance, in The Social Contract, a journal founded by an influential anti-immigrant leader, the term is used in a 2012 essay by Brenda Walker when she says, “Traditional Americans are assailed by affirmative action and benefits for illegal aliens, which are not available to citizens.”

In speaking of the “traditional population,” Tillis stands alongside people like William Gheen, founder of anti-immigrant group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, who said that immigration reform would create a situation in which “traditional Americans, like those who that have been here for hundreds of years in descendancy, will no longer govern our own nation.”

It is true that North Carolina’s African American, Latino, and Asian American populations are growing faster than its white population. For instance, the Latino population in North Carolina grew by 111.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, increasing from 4.7 percent of the population to 8.4 percent. Yet Tillis has consistently worked to marginalize Latinos, by cutting spending on education, opposing healthcare reform, and supporting a restrictive voter identification law ironically called “VIVA.” That’s why People for the American Way is working in North Carolina this year to make sure Latino voters know the threat posed by Tillis’ extreme agenda.

Last year PFAW’s Spanish-language advertising helped spur turnout among Latinos in Virginia’s gubernatorial elections, and did the same in many 2012 battleground contests. As we look to the 2014 elections, Tillis’ actions and statements marginalizing the Latino community will represent a real challenge to his standing in an increasingly powerful voting bloc.

PFAW

Tillis Borrowed 'Traditional Population' Phrase From Anti-Immigrant Extremists

TPM has dug up a 2012 interview in which North Carolina House Speaker and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis contrasts the growing black and Latino populations with the more stagnant “traditional population of North Carolina and the United States.” (The exchange starts about 2:45 into this video.)

Tills made the remarks while discussing the need for the Republican Party to reach out to and appeal to non-white voters — but the phrase “traditional population” as a euphemism for white Americans was lifted right from the racist, anti-immigrant fringe.

The Social Contract, the journal founded by anti-immigrant movement godfather John Tanton frequently uses the phrasetraditional Americans” to mean non-immigrants, and specifically white non-immigrants. One example, from an essay by Brenda Walker in the Fall 2012 issue: “The idea of diversity has been used like a club, to force obedience to the utopian multicultural state, as traditional Americans are assailed by affirmative action and benefits for illegal aliens, which are not available to citizens.”

The white nationalist website VDARE is also known to use the formulation. The late white supremacist writer Sam Francis, who was a contributor to VDARE, has also used the phrase.

The phrase is also a favorite of William Gheen, the leader of the anti-immigrant hate group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, who warned earlier this year that immigration reform would “lead to a situation where traditional Americans, like those that have been here for hundreds of years in descendancy, will no longer govern our own nation.”

Eagle Forum, the group founded by Phyllis Schlafly, hinted at the same idea when it lamented that “non-whites, non-Christians, and non-marrieds vote Democrat out of group identifications. That is, they see it as being in their group interests to tear down traditional American culture.”

Famously, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly made the same connection when he lamented that changing demographics mean "it’s not traditional America anymore.” Pat Buchanan’s 2009 column, “Traditional Americans Are Losing Their Nation,” got at the same point.

Even if Tillis meant what he said about reaching out to black and Latino voters, his use of the phrase “traditional Americans” as a euphemism for white people shows that he has a long way to go.

Spanish-Language Radio Ad Challenges Tillis in North Carolina

People For the American Way is launching a Spanish-language radio ad today challenging North Carolina Senate candidate Thom Tillis and his extreme stances on education, healthcare, and tax breaks for the rich. The ad will air starting today in Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh.

“Thom Tillis has pushed an extreme agenda throughout his career,” said Randy Borntrager of People For the American Way. “He’s given tax breaks to the most privileged of our society while raising taxes on middle class families, and wants to roll back critical health care protections for families. Thom Tillis’ dangerous agenda is too extreme and Latino voters deserve to know what is at stake this election.”

The ad is the latest in PFAW’s campaign to connect with Latino voters in key states, exposing the extreme views of GOP candidates. (An English translation of the ad is available below. You can hear an English version of the ad here.)

ROSA: Como mamá, como mujer, como Hispana,
yo no apoyo al republicano Thom Tillis.
Y no lo haré ¡nunca!
Porque jamás apoyaré a una persona que recorta los fondos públicos a la educación y reduce el gasto social en salud.
¡¿Pues quién se cree este señor?!
Es obvio que no entiende, ni valora, la importancia de la educación, y no apoya el futuro de nuestros hijos.
¡Pero eso sí! Apoya los recortes en impuestos para yates y aviones de los ricos. 
Thom Tillis, ¡por favor!
Hay que ordenar sus prioridades.
Además, quiere quitarle el seguro médico a quienes lo tienen.
El seguro médico que yo ¡y SIETE MILLONES de norteamericanos! por fin tenemos, y que nos protege a nosotras y a nuestra familia.
Carolina del Norte es nuestro hogar.
Y el republicano Thom Tillis está en contra de todo lo que es importante para las familias Hispanas. Empezando por un mejor futuro para nuestros hijos.
Y si él está en contra de eso, yo estoy en contra  de él.
¡Así de fácil!
VO DISCLAIMER:
Este mensaje es pagado por People For the American Way, (www.pfaw.org) y no está autorizado por ningún candidato o comité de candidato. People For the American Way es responsable por el contenido de este anuncio.

In English:

ROSA: As a mom, a woman, a Hispanic, I do not support Republican Thom Tillis.
And I never will.
Because I will never support a person that cuts public education funds and reduces social spending on health.
Who does this gentleman think he is?
It's obvious that he does not understand nor value the importance of education and doesn't support our kids future.
But what does he do? He supports tax breaks for the rich with yachts and airplanes.
Thom Tillis, please!
Set your priorities straight!
Plus, he wants to take away health insurance from those who have it.
The health insurance that I, and seven million Americans, finally have, and that protects us and our families.
Look, North Carolina is our home.
And Republican Thom Tillis is against everything that's important for Hispanic families. Starting with a better future for our kids.
And if he's against that, I'm against him.
As easy as that!
VO DISCLAIMER:
Paid for by People For the American Way (www.pfaw.org) and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. People For the American Way is responsible for the content of this advertising.

PFAW, a national group protecting civil rights and civil liberties, has worked in multiple local, state, and federal campaigns to engage Latino voters.

###

Tony Perkins, Arbiter Of Christianity, Says Pro-Gay Christians Don't Have Same Religious Rights As Conservatives

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins implied today that Christians who support gay rights don’t have the same religious rights as conservative Christians because “true religious freedom” only applies to “orthodox religious viewpoints.”

Last month, a group of North Carolina ministers and same-sex couples, along with the United Church of Christ denomination, filed a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The clergy argue that because of a law that makes it a misdemeanor for a member of the clergy to perform a marriage ceremony without a state license, the same-sex marriage ban violates the religious rights of clergy who wish to perform such ceremonies.

When a caller on Monday’s edition of “Washington Watch” asked Perkins about his views on the case, Perkins replied that the ministers don’t have the same religious rights as others because they aren’t real Christians and therefore aren’t protected by the “true religious freedoms” given to Christians.

As we know, only Tony Perkins gets to decide who is and isn’t a Christian and has religious rights under the law.

Caller: I wanted to see if I can get your response to the members of the clergy in Charlotte that are suing for the right to perform gay marriages, saying that the ban on gay marriage infringes on their religious rights. It’s my understanding that they are a Christian organization, it’s normally the other way around, and so I’m curious to hear what you got to say about it.

Perkins: I would use that term ‘Christian’ loosely. That title is — let’s talk biblical, here’s the deal, it’s like with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that we worked on in Mississippi and failed in Arizona and other places, here’s a test of what is a true religious freedom, a freedom that’s based on orthodox religious viewpoints. It has to have a track record, it has to come forth from religious orthodoxy.

You cannot point to the Christian faith and say that same-sex marriage has been a key teaching of the church. You can only point to the opposite, that the church has stood against sexual immorality in terms of sexual relations of those outside of marriage and in particular homosexual behavior. There is no place, there is nothing for them to stand on and say that same-sex marriage has standing in the orthodox Christian faith.

They’re playing games here, trying to turn the effort that so many Americans are now faced with of preserving religious freedom, they’re now trying to do a jujitsu move and say, ‘We’re going to use religious freedom to say we have a right to do same-sex marriage.’ Well, there is no foundation for that, there is no orthodox Christian holding that has ever said marriage is between people of the same sex.

All GOP Senate Candidates in North Carolina Deny Existence of Climate Change

Many Americans celebrate Earth Day by planting trees, organizing a citywide trash pickup, or talking about the consequences of climate change and the ongoing threat it creates for our planet. But on Earth Day yesterday, all four Republican candidates for Senate in North Carolina used the opportunity to deny that climate change is real. TPM reports:

Fittingly, all four Republican candidates in the North Carolina Senate race were asked on Earth Day if they believed climate change is a proven fact. And all four candidates said "no."

The question was asked during a GOP primary debate on Tuesday night. The candidates, House Speaker Thom Tillis, Rev. Mark Harris, Dr. Greg Brannon, and nursing practitioner Heather Grant, in response to the question, said "no."

This is not the first time Republicans have denied the existence of climate change and it will likely not be the last. But the fact that all four candidates agreed underscores the GOP extremism in the North Carolina Senate race and serves as yet another example of a political party increasingly divorced from reality.

PFAW

GOP Senate Candidate To Join Anti-Gay Forum Featuring Extremist Pastors

Southern Baptist pastor Mark Harris, who is running in a hotly contested GOP primary to take on Democratic North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, launched his political career by driving the successful campaign to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state constitution.

It should come as no surprise then that Harris will join some of the nation’s most fervent opponents of gay rights at the April 24 North Carolina Regional Briefing, hosted by the anti-gay Family Research Council. Speakers joining the GOP hopeful at the event include:

Patrick Wooden

The North Carolina preacher alleged during the marriage amendment campaign that gay men “have to wear a diaper or a butt plug just to be able to contain their bowels.”

He reiterated his claim in follow-up interview where he insisted that he knows of gay men who have “literally died in diapers” because they “have stretched their anuses, their sphincter muscles” with baseball bats, cell phones and animals:

I know of a case where in a hospital a homosexual male had a cellphone lodged in his anus and as they were operating on him the phone went off, the phone started ringing. There’ve been instances where men have put bats, baseball bats, in their rectums.... Even the homosexual lobby knows, those who are pro-homosexual, they know that they cannot win the argument describing what it is that these people actually do to each other, the objects, the animals in certain cases, the little gerbils; thank God I’m a human being!

Wooden has also called homosexuality “wicked, deviant, immoral, self-destructive, anti-human sexual behavior,” said Tyler Perry and Chaz Bono are under Satan’s influence, warned that Glee promotes “a wicked, perverse lifestyle that destroys people” and described violence against gay people as “normal.”

E.W. Jackson

The pastor and failed GOP Virginia lieutenant governor candidate drew wide notoriety for his claims that gay people are “degenerate,” “perverse” and “very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”

He has also warned that homosexuality “poisons culture, destroys families, destroys societies [and] brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of,” adding that it is driven by “spiritually darkened” people who seek to “recruit” others.

Jackson has linked homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, feared that Obama “will force schools to start teaching all children homosexuality” and criticized gay rights advocates and progressives for having supposedly “ done more to kill black folks whom they claim so much to love than the Ku Klux Klan, lynching and slavery and Jim Crow ever did.”

He even labeled the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell an “abomination” and said that God will punish the military for allowing openly gay service members, remarks he later denied making even though they were captured on audio and videotape.

Rick Scarborough

The Texas-based Religious Right leader has built a career around stoking fears that Christians will face imprisonmentpersecution, communism and concentration camps if gay marriage becomes legal. He also says that gay people should be only referred to as “sodomites” and should “hang their heads in shame.”

Scarborough blamed the 2012 Benghazi attack on “the assault on God’s institution of marriage,” insisted Obama’s opposition to Russia’s anti-gay crackdown will lead to God’s judgment on America, described AIDS as divine punishment for gay “immorality” and called for a “class action lawsuit” against homosexuality.

Ron Baity

The North Carolina pastor who leads Return America, a group which pushed the marriage amendment, has said that “homos” are worse than maggots and akin to murderers.

He has also alleged that gay people are making society “more filthy” and bringing about divine punishment in the form of an “urban renewal program,” adding that “perverted” gay people should be “prosecuted” before they cause the “death” of America.

“Since they cannot produce they must recruit young people to their perverted, warped agenda. One cannot think of anything more nauseating, debased, lewd and immoral than recruiting precious young people into such shameful conduct,” he wrote in a Return America newsletter.

Tony Perkins

As leader of the Family Research Council, Perkins defended Uganda’s “kill the gays” bill and connected homosexuality to a whole host of evils, including death, sexual assault, depressionsuicide, government population control, and child abuse. He has even compared homosexuality to shootings, kidnappings and alcoholism.

Perkins has also said that gay rights advocates are using “disgusting” anti-bullying programs in schools to “recruit” children, arguing that gay youth shouldn’t be affirmed for who they are since they intrinsically know they are “abnormal,” leading to depression and suicide.

The FRC head told one Religious Right group that gay rights advocates are “hateful” pawns of the Devil.

Voting Rights Advocates Rack Up More Wins

Earlier this month, PFAW reported on what has gone right for voting rights at the state level in 2014. While there is much more work to be done to enact needed reforms and to step up and counter threats when the right to vote is under attack, states like Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina have shown that we can win. Now we've uncovered even more evidence of why we can and should keep fighting the challenges that lay before us.
PFAW

Florida Puts Hold on Voter Purge, North Carolina Lifts the Veil on Voter ID Law

When we last checked in with the controversial Florida voter purge, advocates and media alike were speculating over what route Governor Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner would take in 2014, with Detzner's office considering comparing its voter records with the US Department of Homeland Security's federal citizenship database known as Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE). Now we know: the purge is off for 2014. Also this week, in North Carolina US Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake ruled that lawmakers must release correspondence related to the formation of the state's new voter ID law, saying that though some records might be shielded, many are considered public.
PFAW

North Carolina School Board Votes to Keep ‘The House of the Spirits’ in Curriculum

Last October, a parent at Watauga High School in Boone, North Carolina asked the local school board to remove Isabel Allende’s internationally-renowned The House of the Spirits from the curriculum. After making its way through a multi-step county review process, last week the school board voted 3-2 to uphold the teaching of the book.

The fight to keep the book in the curriculum was backed by many supporters – including the author herself. In a letter to the Watauga County Board of Education, Isabel Allende wrote,

Banning books is a common practice in police states, Like Cuba or North Korea…but I did not expect it in our democracy.

PFAW Foundation president Michael Keegan also spoke out against censorship to the school board. In his letter, Keegan wrote:

We trust that as educators you will uphold the right of all students in Watauga County to receive a competitive, rigorous education free from censorship. While individual parents have every right to decline reading material for their own children, they should not be allowed to censor the curricula for all students in the county.

The House of the Spirits is not the first book PFAW Foundation has fought to protect. In addition to speaking out about Allende’s novel, in the past year PFAW Foundation has advocated against censorship attempts aimed at Invisible Man, Neverwhere, and The Bluest Eye.
 

PFAW Foundation

Burr's Blue Slip Abuse Continues

North Carolina's Sen. Richard Burr still won't say why he is blocking Jennifer May-Parker's judicial nomination.
PFAW

Creech: Marriage Equality Rulings Signal God's 'Impending Judgment'

Pastor Mark Creech, head of the American Family Association-affiliated Christian Action League of North Carolina, warns in a Christian Post column published yesterday that federal court decisions striking down marriage equality bans in Kentucky and Virginia are a “sign of the times” signaling God’s “impending judgment” on America.

“This is not the fresh air of new freedom that we smell; it is the smoke of Sodom,” Creech writes.
“[T]hese new legal precedents will essentially destroy the nation if not reversed,” he adds. “America must reclaim its sexual sanity or lose its life.”

In an irony of ironies, during the week of Valentine's, two federal judges overturned the marriage protection amendments of Kentucky and Virginia, single-handedly redefining romance and marriage.

Such court decisions are certainly a sign of the times – a sign that we are heading for an impending judgment. This matter burdens my heart greatly nearly every day, sometimes with tears.

John Phillips, the great preacher and Bible commentator once said concerning the story of Sodom's celebration of homosexuality and its ultimate destruction, the first sign of the imminence of God's judgment is a judicial blindness – an inability to make right moral judgment. Citing in Genesis chapter 19 how the angelic visitors struck the perverse mob pressing on Lot's door with blindness, Phillips writes:

"'Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad,' said one of the ancient philosophers Not so! Whom God would destroy, He first makes blind. There comes a point in the rising tide of human wickedness, where God acts. In preparation [for His judgment] He blinds. The process takes various forms; in Pharaoh's case, God hardened his heart; in a coming day He will send a strong delusion so that they will believe 'the lie.' It is a dangerous thing to transgress with arrogance and persistence the laws of God."

The CP notes that Judge Heyburn said in the Kentucky case that the state "cannot impose a traditional or faith-based limitation upon a public right without a sufficient justification for it." Contrary to the erroneous assertions of many, the Constitution itself was based in the law of nature's God. The Scriptures declare the homosexual relationship "unnatural" (Romans 1:26-27), not in the sense of what is allegedly natural for the heterosexual and the homosexual, but natural in function.

Not only is the Constitution based in eternal verities that come from the Judeo-Christian ethic, but neither is there any legal basis for redefining marriage as a union of two people regardless of their gender. The Constitution provides no right to same-sex marriage and even the U.S. Supreme Court has declared the states have a pre-eminent duty for determining marriage's meaning. Nevertheless, radical activist federal judges are saying that whenever the state defines the institution as one man and one woman, it's discriminatory.

Well, if it's discriminatory to circumscribe marriage traditionally, then it's just another form of discrimination to deny marriage to polygamists, polyamorists, incestuous couples, and even pedophiles. Are we to believe such couplings often practiced by pagan cultures of the past, which were either incinerated or reduced to ruins for their sexual deviance by God's own hand, are somehow now in the best interest of our great Republic? Will we legally visit and remove the ban on these too? With rulings such as these, there is nothing to prevent it.

I suggest it is both madness and blindness. And these new legal precedents will essentially destroy the nation if not reversed. America must reclaim its sexual sanity or lose its life.

This is not the kind of judicial blindness represented by Justice with the blindfold over her eyes and the scales in her hand. Instead, it makes a mockery of it. This instead is a visionless Justice, groping her way through the darkness of peril.

Phillips writes, "If there is one thing that marks perversion, it is its deep-seated character. As a cancerous cell in a healthy body grows and spreads until it destroys the health of the whole body, so perverted lust entrenches itself and takes over the life." 

If this legal trend continues, we are now seeing the beginning of a new era – an era of judicial sightlessness – the beginning of our judgment as a nation – the start of our end.

This is not the fresh air of new freedom that we smell; it is the smoke of Sodom.

God save us.

PFAW Members Join Largest Civil Rights March in the South Since Selma

People from all walks of life marched together - from students and activists to lawyers, healthcare professionals, and teachers.
PFAW

Right Wing Targets 'Moral Mondays' Organizer

Right-wing groups and media are waging a concerted attack on Rev. William Barber, organizer of this weekend’s “Moral March” in Raleigh, North Carolina.

North Carolina’s politics lurched to the far right after multimillionaire Art Pope poured money into a far-right takeover of the state government.  A tidal wave of horrible legislation last year attacked voting rights, public education, health care, and unemployment insurance -- and raising taxes on poor families to give tax breaks to a handful of the state’s wealthiest people. Basically, if you want to see what unfettered Tea Party governance looks like, look at North Carolina.

In response, a huge statewide coalition led by Barber, the president of the state NAACP, organized “Moral Mondays” protests to draw attention to the legislature’s extremism. State GOP officials initially dismissed the movement, with one legislator deriding “Moron Mondays” and others blaming the protests on “outside agitators.” But the protests grew to thousands, with more than 900 people, the vast majority of them from North Carolina, being arrested.

The progressive Forward Together coalition drew tens of thousands of people to Raleigh this weekend for a “Moral March,” which kicked off a year of organizing and voter engagement. This progressive mobilization has generated excitement among progressive activists nationally, and has made Barber a target of the right wing.

In recent weeks, Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren have invited Sen. Tim Scott, Allen West, and Star Parker – all right-wing African Americans – to attack Barber for comments he made suggesting  that Scott is a ventriloquist dummy for the Tea Party.

In the days leading up to Saturday’s march, the state’s Republican Chairman Claude Pope slammed Barber for using "inflammatory and offensive" rhetoric. And Tami Fitzgerald from the North Carolina Values Coalition snarked, “The so-called Moral March on Raleigh is anything but moral. It is spearheaded by groups that support abortion and homosexual marriage.” I am not aware that Fitzgerald has raised moral objections to right-wing state officials’ attacks on poor families’ access to health care.

At a press conference after the March, Tea Party activist David Webb, a Fox and Breitbart contributor, badgered Barber about whether he owed Scott and other black conservatives an apology. No apology was forthcoming. The unruffled Barber said his job and calling are “to speak the truth about public policies, policies that hurt millions of people.” 

Barber said his critique was based on policy, not personality. “While some people may choose to get caught up on a metaphor,” Barber said, “the real indignation and upsetness should be over the regressive agenda” and over policies that are causing “real-life suffering and death.”

If folk want to get upset, get upset over the denying of Medicaid expansion, get upset over voting to reject unemployment benefits for laid off workers who are Republican, who are Democrat, who are black, who are white. Get upset over reduced access to public education and funding of it….and get upset over the attacks to turn back voting rights that were won through blood, sweat and tears.”

 

The Spirit Of Selma: Moral March In Raleigh, NC

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and related rulings undermining the nation’s campaign finance laws opened the doors to massive corporate and right-wing spending. Nowhere have the results been more catastrophic than in North Carolina, where a right-wing takeover subjected state residents to an avalanche of far-right legislation targeting children, teachers, voting rights, and more.

Last year PFAW’s Miranda Blue and Calvin Sloan documented the far-right takeover of state politics that was funded by billionaire Art Pope with the help of GOP strategist and current U.S. Senate candidate from Virginia, Ed Gillespie.  In 2012, Pope and his allies poured millions of dollars into elections for the state legislature and millions more to elect Gov. Pat McCrory. 

Once they got into power, with Pope himself installed as McCrory’s budget director, North Carolina citizens were subjected to the full fury of a far-right, Tea Party-on-steroids legislative agenda. Education spending was slashed and thousands of teachers fired while tax dollars were diverted to school vouchers.

Hundreds of thousands of citizens were denied Medicaid and unemployment benefits while taxes were cut for the state’s richest residents. And in order to perpetuate the power of Pope’s puppets, one of the nation’s worst, most restrictive voting laws was put into place to disenfranchise voters, with an assist from the Supreme Court’s gutting of a key section of the Voting Rights Act.

But North Carolina has not given Americans only a terrifying look at what a Tea Party-run country would look like. It has also given us an inspiring example of grassroots organizing on behalf of a very different set of values.  Led by Rev. William Barber, head of the state’s NAACP chapter, North Carolinans began “Moral Mondays” protests at the state capitol. They were dismissed as “morons” and outside agitators by right-wing legislators. One of Pope’s right-wing groups published personal information of protestors online.

But those efforts did nothing to squelch the Moral Mondays movement, which drew thousands of people to the weekly protests.  Hundreds were arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience.

Now Barber and the diverse coalition he leads have put out a call to people across North Carolina and the rest of the country to come to Raleigh on February 8 for what they hope will become the largest civil rights gathering in the south since an interfaith, interracial group of people responded to Dr. King’s call to join civil rights marchers in Selma.

On Tuesday, Rev. Barber spoke to bloggers about Moral Mondays, the February 8 march, and the values-based “fusion” organizing that is sustaining the pro-justice movement in North Carolina. If you’re going to change America, he said, you have to change the south – with broad-based, locally led movements in every state. 

Barber emphasized that his movement was not partisan – that many independents and Republicans have joined in the Moral Mondays protests against the extremist and unjust laws passed by the far-right faction that now runs the state government. What motivates the new coalition, Barber said, is a combination of the constitutional principle of the common good and the biblical principle of caring for the vulnerable. A few days before the march, a policy briefing will examine the moral, economic, political and social costs of the state’s regressive legislation.

One goal of turning February 8 into a national event, Barber said, is to discourage right-wing strategists who hope to duplicate Pope’s takeover and subsequent imposition of extreme policies that Barber describes as “constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible, and economically insane.”

You can find out more about the February 8 march at the event website.

Sen. Burr Invents New Rule to Hide Obstruction of NC Judicial Nominee

Burr's current refusal to publicly comment on a pending judicial nominee stands in contrast to his practice for previous nominees.
PFAW

NC Committee Upholds Teaching of Challenged Allende Novel

After Isabel Allende’s internationally-renowned novel The House of the Spirits was challenged by a parent this October, PFAW Foundation wrote to members of the Watauga County, North Carolina Board of Education, urging them not to remove the book from the county’s high school curriculum. Now, following a sustained outcry at both the local and national level – including from Allende herself – a county appeal committee has unanimously voted to uphold the teaching of the book.
PFAW Foundation

Isabel Allende Fights Against Banning of Her Own Book

When the teaching of Isabel Allende’s internationally renowned novel The House of the Spirits was challenged in a North Carolina school district last month, advocates from all corners spoke out in its defense, including PFAW Foundation president Michael Keegan and North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti. Now, Isabel Allende herself has joined the conversation.

Yesterday the School Library Journal reported that Allende has mailed a letter, along with copies of her book, to the Watauga County school board, superintendent, and the principal of Watauga High School.

After acknowledging that being in the position of defending her own book is “unusual and awkward,” Allende points out in her letter that The House of the Spirits is “considered a classic of Latin American literature and it is taught in high schools, colleges, and universities in all Western countries, including the USA for more than two decades.” She expresses concern about the practice of book censorship in general:

Banning of books is a common practice in police states, like Cuba or North Korea, and by religious fundamentalist groups like the Taliban, but I did not expect it in our democracy.

Allende’s letter comes as the book undergoes a multi-step review process in the county. Last month an advisory committee comprised of teachers, students, and parents voted unanimously not to remove the book from the curriculum, but that decision has been appealed.

PFAW Foundation
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