The following tells the dynamics of how the gay rights bullying bill was passed by one vote
By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
RALEIGH – Ask N.C. Legislators one-on-one if they want state laws to offer special status based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” and an easy majority will say they do not. And yet, those same lawmakers last week enacted the SB 526 – School Violence Prevention Act putting those terms into Tar Heel statutes for the first time and further rolling out the red carpet to the homosexual agenda. In fact, North Carolina is the first state in the South to elevate “gender identity” to a protected legal category in statute.
“When we have this kind of disparity between what lawmakers profess and how they vote, we believe it warrants a closer look as to what really influenced those votes, several of which changed during the final hour,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “We believe this was a combination of grassroots pressure from homosexual activists and strong arm tactics from the House leadership.”
The new law, which will require schools across the state to adopt anti-bullying policies that include a list of potential victims – those that may be picked on because of their “race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender identity, physical appearance, sexual orientation or mental, physical, developmental or sensory disability…” – is not unlike those that have been used in other states as legal springboards for same-sex marriage rulings. Introduced for at least the third consecutive session, the measure was exposed as simply a tool for promoting homosexuality in North Carolina’s public schools. This became readily apparent in the 2008 Session when bill sponsors allowed the bill to die instead of easily enacting into law a measure that did not include the list of enumerated categories but instead called for equal protection for all students. This year was no different, as multiple efforts to remove the enumerated categories were consistently rejected by legislative leaders and the bill sponsors.
In fact, the idea of legislation to help stop bullying against any and all students without the enumerated victims list was so popular among House members this session that 62 of the 120 representatives signed on as co-sponsors of Rep. Paul Stam’s House Bill 776 – No Bullying Anyone at Public Schools (See Related Story, Stam Introduces a ‘Real’ Bullying Bill ). No action was taken on HB 776, and this version of the anti-bullying legislation was not allowed as a committee substitute for the version of the bill that ultimately became law and which contains the list of enumerated victims.
Three legislators who co-sponsored Rep. Stam’s HB 776 voted in favor of SB 526, even though it contained the enumerated victims list – Rep. Lorene Coates (D-Rowan), Rep. Garland Pierce (D-Scotland) and Rep. Russell Tucker (D-Duplin). Unfortunately, they were not given the choice to vote on the best version of the bill.
Two other House members were at the General Assembly when the vote was taken on SB 526, but were conveniently absent from the chamber. Rep. Ronnie Sutton (D-Robeson), who had voted against the bill on second reading, was not present to vote on third reading (the final vote), and Rep. Ray Warren (D-Alexander) avoided voting on both second and third readings.
Rep. Elmer Floyd (D-Cumberland) voted against the bill on second reading, but changed his vote in favor of the bill on third reading.
Tami Fitzgerald, lobbyist for the Christian Action League, said that on the Thursday before second reading, 13 Democrats had told her they would vote against the bill. These votes, paired with the 52-member House Republican caucus provided a clear majority of votes against the measure. But by third reading, she knew it would be very close and probably come down to one vote. When Rep. William Brission (D-Bladen) fell ill and Rep. Jeff Barnhart (R-Cabarrus) had to miss the session because of a pressing work obligation, the margin became even tighter. And by that time it had become clear that the House leadership was exerting tremendous pressure on Democrat legislators to vote in favor of the bill.
Fitzgerald said some Democrat lawmakers reported being called to the Speaker’s office or receiving a note from the Speaker, delivered by pages during debate, urging a “YES” vote on the bill.
“Six votes were changed on the House floor during the 90 minute debate on second-reading,” she said. “In my mind, the vote did not represent the will of the majority of the House; it represented the will of the House leadership. Neither did it represent the will of the people in this State. Legislators received hundreds of phone calls, emails, and even personal visits from pastors and constituents who opposed the bill. Still some voted for the legislation or just plain didn’t vote.”
The political ploys that helped put Senate Bill 526 into law started long before the final vote, however. When the bill was taken up in the House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Larry Bell (D-Sampson), no amendments or substitutes were allowed. Neither was the Committee given a chance to consider the version of the anti-bullying bill that did not contain the controversial enumerated categories.
Further, House leaders took advantage of a procedural mechanism to make it virtually impossible for House members to offer amendments to the bill. House rules prohibit members from offering amendments on the House floor that would change the “title” of a bill. The title of SB 526 was written in great detail and spanned 27 lines of text essentially guaranteeing that any amendments offered would be ruled out of order.
“Look at the caption of this bill,” said Rep. Jonathan Rhyne (R-Lincoln) during second reading. “The purpose to have a caption that long is to stifle debate, a mini-trend that I find disturbing.”
For voters across the State, the message is abundantly clear: the values of the majority of voters in this State were derailed and hijacked by homosexual activism.
“The Christian Action League wishes to express its appreciation to all the Democrats, as well as Republicans, who withstood the pressures of the homosexual lobby and House leadership. They showed great courage and integrity in the face of intense pressures,” said Fitzgerald.