Even though the unrepentant racist and homophobe shuffled off this mortal coil over three years ago, the spectre of Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) still hangs over North Carolina.
The North Carolina House of Representatives passed today, 75-42, a proposed anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment that would ban marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships and other relationship recognition for same-sex couples.
Debate on the House floor started shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Monday. The majority of speakers throughout debate were Democrats opposed to the measure.
One of the strongest speeches against the measure came from Forsyth County’s Larry Womble.
“This proposed piece of legislation is clearly an example of discrimination,” Womble said. “It is discrimination in its highest form…We’ve been so silent on some of the atrocities committed in this state against other people, human beings; the only difference is it might be the texture of their hair, the pigmentation of their skin or the color of their eyes. We are again today discriminating against people who are citizens. They are not criminals. They’ve not broken any laws. I assume they register and vote. They go to school. They work. They want to ascribe to the best that this society can offer…North Carolina is bigger than this. North Carolina is better than this. We need to rise to the occasion as we have done before when there’s been issues that are not right and not fair.”
Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) also gave a moving, though a short, statement against the amendment. She teared up near the end of her speech while talking about her lesbian sister, her partner and four-year-old child.
Asheville’s Susan Fischer warned her colleagues that history would judge them harshly. “In the not too distant future we will be apologizing yet again for more unfair and discriminatory practices,” she said, citing the state’s past history of civil rights abuses.
I wonder if the DNC will re-think their decision to hold the party’s 2012 nominating convention in Charlotte. Just curious.