Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.
Introduction. This year’s short session of the North Carolina General Assembly was just that – short. Though the session was brief, only lasting from May 13 – July 18, serious issues regarding life, marriage, racism, sexual perversion and drugs were placed on the agenda.
Legislation Opposed by the Christian Action League
Certainly the most controversial bill of the session was HB 1366 – School Violence Prevention Act, which would have required North Carolina public schools adopt anti-bullying policies making “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” a specially protected class. The bill would have created a historical legal precedence in North Carolina law and opened the door for homosexual ideology to be taught in the public schools. Though the bill passed in the House by a slim margin, the Senate stripped the bill of the objectionable enumerations and the House did not concur. The bill then was sent to a Conference Committee, which essentially produced no significant changes to the measure. When the conference report was reported to both chambers, the inundation of contacts by constituents opposed to the pro-homosexual measure convinced Senate members not to take it up. The House followed suit with the same response.
HR 2405 – LRC Study/Alternative Medicines called for a taxpayer study into the benefits of medicinal marijuana. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), marijuana is a dangerous, addictive drug that poses significant health threats to its users; has no medical value that cannot be met more effectively by legal drugs and more often than not, opens the door to even more harmful illegal substances. Even though former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders came to the General Assembly to stump for the measure, it was never taken up for consideration.
Two bills introduced in the North Carolina Senate that would have granted state funding of embryonic stem cells were not taken up by the Senate and thus failed. HB 1837 – Stem Cell Research Health and Wellness Act would have permitted embryonic stem cell research under limited circumstances and authorized the Health and Wellness Trust Fund Commission to establish guidelines for stem-cell research grants. SB 1965 – Funds/ Stem Cell Research would have awarded to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, Wake Forest University and East Carolina University, grants of up to $4 million each, earmarked for stem cell research. Although the measure did not specify what kind of stem cell research would be allowed, it did not prohibit embryonic stem cell research
Legislation Supported By the Christian Action League
SB 685 – Up Penalties Cross Burn/Illegal to Hang Noose, which passed the General Assembly and becomes effective December 1, 2008, increases the penalty for burning a cross or hanging a noose for the purpose of intimidation. North Carolina currently has a misdemeanor ethnic intimidation law, and a Class I felony that prohibits burning a cross in someone’s yard, but SB 685 makes the use of a cross or noose for the purpose of intimidation into a Class H felony, giving a judge the power to put a perpetrator in prison. Amina Turner, executive director of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) of North Carolina, said strengthening the law sends a signal to law enforcement agencies that they can’t overlook the use of these symbols to intimidate.
For five years, the leadership in both the North Carolina House and Senate has refused to allow the hearing of legislation that would define marriage in the state’s Constitution as “one man and one woman.” Even though this year’s legislation SB 1608 – Defense of Marriage and its House companion HB 2803 – Defense of Marriage, enjoyed strong bipartisan support and would have easily passed, North Carolina remains the only state in the Southeastern United States that has not taken action to define marriage in its Constitution. Without a marriage amendment, North Carolina remains extremely vulnerable to gay activists that would sue for state recognition of same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts or California, where such unions are currently legal. Should a suit of this nature succeed, North Carolina’s current laws prohibiting gay marriage would be overturned and subsequently same-sex marriage legalized. Allowing North Carolinians the opportunity to vote on defining marriage in the state’s most sacred document and not leaving it to the judiciary to decide remains the most important legislation North Carolina lawmakers could enact.
Out of the 21 different pieces of pro-life legislation introduced in the General Assembly this year, the leadership in both the House and Senate allowed a hearing for only one. HB 392 – Choose Life Special Registration Plate would have directed a portion of the proceeds from the sale of a special “Choose Life” license plate to the “Crisis Pregnancy Fund.” Monies from the fund would have been distributed by the N.C. Division of Social Services to nongovernmental, not-for-profit agencies that provide pregnancy crisis services limited to counseling and meeting the physical needs of pregnant women that were committed to either raising their own children or placing them up for adoption. No agency involved or associated with abortion would have been eligible for the funds. Unfortunately, the bill was stalled in the House Finance Committee, along with a number of other specialty license plates bills.
Lawmakers also failed to capitalize on an opportunity to curb vice and save lives by rejecting Governor Mike Easley’s budget proposal to increase cigarette and alcohol taxes. If the legislation had been approved, it would have not only resulted in a gain of more than $169 million in state revenues, but also significantly reduced binge drinking and smoking among North Carolina’s youth. The proposal was summarily rejected for consideration.
Conclusion. Within a period of approximately eight weeks, the Christian Action League lobbied against and in favor of some very critical legislative initiatives. This report does not include the many non-legislative matters of public policy the Christian Action League addressed or continues to address in 2008. Non-legislative matters cover a wide spectrum of assistance from helping concerned citizens defend their religious liberties to directing communities on how to defeat alcohol referendums. This report is but a summary of the League’s efforts to be “salt” and “light” for Christ’s sake in the legislature. A full and comprehensive report of the League’s lobbying, as well as educational activities, will be posted on the Christian Action League’s web site (www.christianactionleague.org) by the end of September 2008.
Rev. Mark H. Creech, Executive Director
Dr. David Hansley, President