North Carolina

Flip Benham Crashes Gay Weddings In North Carolina

With gay marriage now legal in North Carolina, it was only a matter of time before Flip Benham of Operation Save America started crashing wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

The North Carolina-based pastor, who is the father of Religious Right activists David and Jason Benham, reportedly disrupted several weddings at the Mecklenburg County and Courts Office in Charlotte last week.

Benham’s group, which in July disrupted a memorial service at a Unitarian Universalist congregation in New Orleans, “interrupted several couples’ weddings as supporters held up a large rainbow flag to block his view,” according to the North Carolina LGBT publication Q Notes. “Another protester waved a bible in the air as he screamed several profanities and vulgarities.”

The Charlotte Observer also captured Benham’s protest outside the courthouse:

Kathleen Thomas also posted a photo of Benham and other demonstrators outside of the wedding ceremonies.

PFAW Spanish-Language Ads Challenge Tillis in North Carolina

Today People For the American Way (PFAW) launched a new Spanish-language TV ad highlighting North Carolina Senate candidate Thom Tillis’s alarming track record on education and the minimum wage. The ad will air starting today in Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh.

PFAW is also beginning an expanded push of a Spanish-language radio ad calling out Tillis’s positions on healthcare, education, and tax breaks for the rich.

“Thom Tillis has been on the wrong side of issues important to many North Carolina Latino voters,” said Randy Borntrager, Political Director of People For the American Way. “He has spoken out against raising the minimum wage, harmed the state’s education budget, and bragged about blocking health coverage for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians. We want to make sure that on Election Day, voters know what Thom Tillis is all about.”

According to the most recent census data, roughly nine percent of North Carolina’s residents identify as Latino or Hispanic. Though relatively small in number, Latino voters may play a decisive role in a close Senate race where every vote counts.

This ad push is the latest in People For the American Way’s multi-year, nationwide campaign to engage Latino voters in key states by shedding light on the agendas of GOP candidates on issues ranging from immigration to education to the environment. PFAW also recently began running Spanish-language ads in Georgia and Colorado.

The script of the TV ad reads:

El republicano Thom Tillis no respeta los valores de nuestra comunidad.

Cortó 500 mil millones de dolares del presupuesto para la educación de nuestros hijos.

Dijo que era “peligroso” levantar el sueldo mínimo aunque somos una comunidad trabajadora.

¡Republicanos como Thom Tillis nos siguen bloqueando oportunidades, y esa falta de respeto no la permitiremos!

El 4 de noviembre votaremos contra Thom Tillis.

People For the American Way es responsable por el contenido de este anuncio.

English translation:

Republican Thom Tillis doesn’t respect the values of our community.

He cut the education budget for our children by half a billion dollars.

He said it was “dangerous” to raise the minimum wage even though we’re a hardworking community.

Republicans like Thom Tillis keep blocking opportunities for us, and that kind of disrespect we will not allow!

On November 4th, we are voting against Republican Thom Tillis.

People For the American Way is responsible for the content of this advertising.

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2014 Midterm Elections: PFAW Holds Member Telebriefing with Political Strategist Celinda Lake

People For The American Way hosted a telebriefing Thursday evening to update PFAW members on the electoral landscape for 2014.  The call, which was kicked off by PFAW President Michael Keegan and moderated by Director of Communications Drew Courtney, featured prominent pollster and political strategist and current President of Lake Research Partners Celinda Lake, as well as PFAW’s Political Director Randy Borntrager and Executive Vice President Marge Baker.

Lake discussed the political climate in Congress and the general frustration voters feel toward both political parties. She emphasized multiple times throughout the call that in this election “the key is voter turnout.” In Kentucky, for instance since most undecided voters are leaning towards Alison Lundergan Grimes, turnout will be critical to help unseat Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Political Director Randy Borntrager discussed the work PFAW is doing to make the biggest impact possible in the most pivotal races to help progressives win this election. Lake and Borntrager emphasized that increasing awareness to voters of what is truly at stake – from reproductive rights to potential Supreme Court vacancies – will help make a difference come November.

Questions from callers also focused on other critical races including gubernatorial races in Florida and Wisconsin, the Senate race in North Carolina, and contests in Alaska and Iowa, among others.

In closing, Drew Courtney noted that the telebriefing shows that “we have some challenges ahead, but we are going to fight hard and push forward, and we’re not going to go back to the way things were before.”

Listen to the full audio of the telebriefing for more information.
 

PFAW

North Carolina Judge Rules Right-Wing Voucher Program Unconstitutional

People in North Carolina have been living with – and resisting – a devastating right-wing assault on public institutions and the common good since a far-right takeover of state government in 2012, which was funded by Art Pope, a local businessman who became the state’s budget director.

Part of the right-wing assault has been on public schools and teachers. The 2013 state budget included $10 million for “Opportunity Scholarships” that would be sent to mostly unaccountable and mostly religious private schools. But today a state judge ruled that state lawmakers’ school voucher plan violates the North Carolina constitution.

North Carolina Policy Watch has the details:

In a stunning rebuke to state lawmakers’ efforts to bring school vouchers to North Carolina, Wake County Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood today found the recently-enacted “Opportunity Scholarship Program” unconstitutional and permanently enjoined disbursement of state funds for that purpose.

“The General Assembly fails the children of North Carolina when they are sent with public taxpayer money to private schools that have no legal obligation to teach them anything,” Hobgood said.

In his ruling, issued this morning from the bench, the judge broke down the program and detailed the many reasons why it failed constitutional muster:

This legislation unconstitutionally

1) appropriates to private schools grades K-12, by use of funds which apparently have gone to the university system budget but which should be used exclusively for establishing and maintaining the uniform system of free public schools;

2) appropriates education funds in a manner that does not accomplish a public purpose;

3) appropriates educational funds outside the supervision and administration of the state board of education;

4) creates a non-uniform system of education;

5) appropriates taxpayer funds to educational institutions that have no standards, curriculum and requirements for teachers and principals to be certified;

6) fails to guard and maintain the rights of the people who privilege the education by siphoning money from the public schools in favor of private schools; and

7) allows funding of non-public schools that discriminate on account of religion.

NC Policy Watch reports that Judge Hobgood had issued a preliminary injunction against the program in February, but parents backed by the Koch-brothers-funded Institute for Justice appealed that order and the state Supreme Court overturned the injunction in May. But in today’s ruling, “Hobgood recognized the state’s obligation to provide a ‘sound basic education’ to the children attending public schools in North Carolina as mandated by the [state] Supreme Court in its Leandro decision .”

“The General Assembly cannot constitutionally delegate this responsibility to unregulated private schools by use of taxpayer opportunity scholarships to low income parents who have self-assessed their children to be at risk,” he said.

Hobgood noted that the private schools receiving the scholarships are not subject to any requirements or standards regarding the curriculum that they teach, have no requirements for student achievement, are not obligated to demonstrate any growth in student performance and are not even obligated to provide a minimum amount of instructional time.

The Judge also wrote, “It appears to this court that the General Assembly is seeking to push at-risk students from low income families into non-public schools in order to avoid the cost of providing them a sound basic education in public school as mandated by the Leandro decision.”

And he rejected the budgetary sleight-of-hand engaged in by legislators to try to make the program pass constitutional muster:

The judge also made clear that he was not buying lawmakers’ argument that state funds were not funding the program.

This summer, Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam pushed through an amendment to the voucher law that pulled $10 million out of the state’s General Fund to pay for the program. That budgetary maneuver allowed Stam to then readjust the public school budget back to what it would have been had school vouchers never existed.

As amended the voucher law stated that “scholarship grant funds awarded . . . to eligible students attending a non-public school shall not be considered funding from the state of North Carolina.”

Nowhere in the state’s General Statutes is there any provision for scholarship grants to come from any source other than taxpayer funds, Hobgood noted.

“If scholarship grants shall not be considered funding from the state of North Carolina, this court is at a complete loss to understand the source of those funds,” he said.

“Follow the money,” the judge added. “The clear legislative intent is to utilize taxpayer money to fund private schools.”

 

PFAW

Yes, Latino Vote Can Have Big Impact This Election

The Latino population is growing, and with it a bloc of eligible Latino voters. From 2000 to 2010, the Latino population grew by 43% according to the Census bureau. That population has continued to grow from 2010 until today, making up over 16% of the total population, which means more Latinos than ever are becoming eligible to vote each year. Despite this growth, Nate Cohn argued in his New York Times column last week that this voting bloc won’t make a difference in the November elections:

“Yet the vote is unlikely to deal a severe blow to the [Republican] party’s chances in November’s midterm elections. Hispanic voters may be flexing their growing political muscles in presidential elections, but they have far less sway over the composition of the House or the Senate, particularly in 2014.”

While it is true that many of this year’s most critical Senate races aren’t in the states with the largest Latino populations, there are races in states where the growing Latino population can exercise major muscle and make a critical difference. Cohn’s argument fails to consider how this growing population coupled with the anti-immigrant rhetoric fueled by the Republican party can drive up Latino voter turnout this year. This can make a big difference in states with tight races.

In Colorado, for example, where the number of Latinos has grown significantly — by 41% between 2000 and 2010, now making up over 20% of the population —  this voting bloc can play a big role in a close race. Similarly, in states with tight races like Georgia and North Carolina, even though Latinos make up around 9% of the population, that population grew by 96% and 111% respectively since 2000. This dramatic growth makes this a voting bloc that can have a major impact in what are expected to be two very close elections.
 

PFAW

North Carolina Religious Right Leader Blasts 'Despotism' And 'Tyranny' Of Pro-Equality Court Rulings

Last month, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that he would no longer defend the state’s marriage equality ban  because "there are really no arguments left to be made." 

This did not sit well with Mark Creech, executive director of the North Carolina Action League. In a Christian Post column yesterday, Creech attacked Cooper for “wimpishly” capitulating to “tyranny” and yielding to the “despotism” of “judicial totalitarians.”

By refusing to resist with every legal means possible, Cooper capitulates to a form of tyranny in our day. He abandons his post on the field of battle, throws up the white flag, stands in the very place of the state (a state that voted by 61% for the marriage amendment) and wimpishly replies to the 4th Circuit that North Carolina accepts their judgment and surrenders. Furthermore, he calls on the judges who will preside over the cases currently challenging the state's marriage amendment to stand down and yield to the despotism of two judicial totalitarians.

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.

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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
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