Faith leaders demand apology, dialogue from Robinson in response to homophobic remarks

Rev. Nancy Petty addresses members of the news media at a protest outside the Lt. Governor’s residence on Monday.

Days after remarks delivered by North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson came to light in which he described homosexuality and “transgenderism” as “filth,” a group of North Carolina faith leaders gathered outside his official residence in Raleigh on Monday afternoon to demand an apology and dialogue.

Joined by a group of 35 or so supportive demonstrators who chanted “we are not filth,” and who held signs decrying the remark and the message of hate it conveyed, Rev. Nancy Petty of Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church declared that all human beings are created in the image of God — regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Petty then laid out three specific demands:

  1. that Robinson plainly and publicly apologize for his remarks and the damage they inflicted on LGBTQ people everywhere,
  2. that he sit down and engage in dialogue with the protesting group,
  3. failing #1 and 2, that he resign or be removed from office.

Petty was followed to the podium by Rev. Vance Haywood, Jr., Senior Pastor at Raleigh’s St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church, who noted that Robinson’s hateful remarks had put people’s lives at risk — both from violence and the risk of suicide. Haywood’s comments seemed especially relevant on a day that UNC-Chapel Hill canceled classes to address the threat of suicide amongst students and that was marked across the nation as National Coming Out Day.

Other speakers at the event included:

  • Kori Hennessey of the LGBT Center of Raleigh,
  • Rev. T. Anthony Spearman of the North Carolina NAACP,
  • Bishop Samuel Rodman of the Diocese of North Carolina, and
  • Rev. Jennifer Copeland, executive director of the North Carolina Council of Churches.

All decried Robinson’s statements and echoed the demands voiced by Rev. Petty.

Rev. Spearman, who took a break from his longstanding vigil outside the Governor’s mansion to demand justice for Dontae Sharpe, seemed to fight back some emotion as he declared that North Carolinians “must not be silent,” in the face of Robinson’s comments.

Bishop Rodman described Robinson’s comments as “not acceptable by any standards.”

Rev. Copeland expanded upon the observation that the diversity of humanity reflects God’s design for the world and called on Robinson to apologize and “make it right.”

At the conclusion of the event, Rev. Petty announced two additional events. On Wednesday, the group will return to the same spot at 5:00 pm to renew their demands and highlight the pain and suffering that comments like Robinson’s are causing for young people and on Friday a demonstration will take place at 4:00 pm outside the State Capitol Building.

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