Bill included categories of “sexual orientation,” “gender identification,” and “gender expression.”
Christian Action League
Wednesday, Local Government II Committee took up a controversial measure, HB 721 – Carrboro/Housing Discrimination. The legislation would have amended the charter of the town of Carrboro “to adopt ordinances prohibiting housing discrimination on the basis of familial status, handicap, sexual orientation, gender identification and gender expression.” Carrboro’s current charter only includes the categories of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
Although HB 721 was only a local bill, its affect would have had state-wide implications. Currently, “sexual orientation”, “gender identification,” or “gender expression” exist nowhere in North Carolina law and would have created new categories of special protections for homosexuals.
Rep. Verla Insko (D-Orange), the primary sponsor of the bill, argued for its passage, saying the town of Carrboro was a community where gay and lesbian persons lived openly and this is what they were requesting. Also present to speak in favor of the bill was Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton, and Ian Palmquist of Equality NC.
Nevertheless, lawmakers on the committee demonstrated a high level of discomfort with the bill. Rep. Elmer Floyd (D-Cumberland) introduced an amendment, which removed the objectionable language. Floyd argued the objectionable language was not consistent with other housing discrimination statutes. He thought it was more appropriate that North Carolina’s housing discrimination statutes be uniform.
Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) liberally passed out a handout provided by the Christian Action League to Committee members that explained that the American Psychiatric Association names no less than thirty different “sexual orientations,” some of which are considered criminal activity.
Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, spoke before the committee and argued the effect of such legislation in other states has been to create a hook for the courts to use to show legislative intent as a part of their rationale to redefine marriage.
Floyd’s amendment passed the committee overwhelmingly by a 13-1 margin. The bill itself was later passed to include the additional categories of “familial status,” and “handicap.”
After the meeting, Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League noted: “No one should be deceived. This bill was not really about housing discrimination. Where was the evidence anyone was being discriminated against in regards to housing in Carrboro? Rep. Insko said the people in Carrboro were accepting of gay and lesbians and they lived openly. This bill was about advancing the homosexual agenda in State law.”
Proponents of the measure had also argued that homosexuality was like race. “I’m glad that lawmakers weren’t buying that contention,” said Creech. “There is essentially no empirical biological data that conclusively demonstrates that people are inherently gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. These categories are not classes of people any more than heterosexuals are a class of people. We are males and females by anatomy, but gays and straights by behavior. I mean to convey by this that you will find literally thousands of former homosexuals, but never one former African-American.”
The bill now moves to the House Judiciary I Committee. A companion measure, SB 395, as introduced by Sen. Ellie Kinnaird (D-Orange) currently resides in the Senate State and Local Government Committee.