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Gay rights advocates rally at a recent Moral Monday demonstration.

Equality NC, same-sex couples and families delivered over 10,600 petitions to the Raleigh and regional offices of Governor Pat McCrory this morning, urging him to stop defending the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

“We are proud to deliver this important message alongside families from all across the state who are demanding Gov. McCrory not waste one taxpayer dollar defending what is now an unconstitutional and indefensible law,” said Chris Sgro, Equality NC’s executive director. “In doing so, we join them in asking that our elected officials not only stand with their constituents, but also help North Carolina stand on the right side of history.”

Last month, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced his office would no longer defend state laws banning same-sex marriage, after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban in Bostic v. Schaeffer.

As the News & Observer points out in Wednesday’s paper, the petition drive by the advocacy organization may press McCrory to discuss his own position on same-sex marriage:

McCrory had asked Cooper to request a stay of North Carolina’s case pending a higher appeal of the Virginia lawsuit, which is now on hold.

But his stance leaves unanswered questions, Equality NC suggests: Does McCrory still personally support the amendment after the Virginia ruling? And will he seek a special outside counsel to uphold the state’s ban now that Cooper won’t defend it?

The questions may hold implications for the 2016 governor’s race when Cooper is expected to challenge McCrory.

McCrory supported North Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage when it was placed on the ballot in May of 2012.

Since then, polls have shown a growing acceptance of this issue with a majority of voters (nationwide and in North Carolina) supporting either marriage or civil unions for same-sex couple.

For more on where things stand in the courts on same-sex marriage, read this piece by Policy Watch’s Courts and Law reporter Sharon McCloskey.

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School-vouchersThe North Carolina House voted yesterday to amend the state charter schools law to bar discrimination against children “with respect to any category protected under the United State Constitution or under federal law applicable to the states.” While the language was drawn hastily in the aftermath of Rep. Paul Stam’s embarrassing homophobic rant of the other day and would appear to include some potential wiggle room for creative bigots, it’s certainly a step forward.

That said, the House’s action (which still needs to be approved by the Senate and the Governor) serves to highlight another glaring problem in state education law — namely, the fact that the state’s new school voucher system not only allows such discrimination; it is based upon it.

As Raleigh’s News & Observer notes in an editorial this morning: Read More

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State of ExclusionThe UNC Center for Civil Rights has released a new report as part of a series of in-depth examinations of exclusion and the legacy of racial segregation in individual counties. The subject is Lenoir County in southeastern North Carolina. Both the Lenoir study and last year’s overarching report, “State of Exclusion,” are available by clicking here. This is from the release that accompanied the new Lenoir County study:

“In the middle of the Black Belt of Eastern North Carolina, Lenoir County is divided between its mostly white rural population and the concentrated African American populations in Kinston and La Grange. This new report focuses on the impact of the racial segregation on public education, political representation, and utility service.  Profiles of other counties will follow in the coming weeks, each highlighting particular aspects of that county’s history, ongoing impacts of exclusion, and progress toward full inclusion of all residents.

The county-wide school district in Lenoir County is the result of the 1992 merger of the majority white county school system with the majority African American Kinston city school district. Despite the merger, educational segregation persists because of an inequitable assignment model. Read More

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As 2013 fast recedes in the rear-view mirror, many of us would like to think that the worst of the Koch brothers/Tea Party/conservative theocracy wackiness is over. Unfortunately, there is ample reason to believe that 2014 will be even more of a knockdown, drag-out political battle. Here are just a few reminders as to why this is the case and why caring and thoughtful people will need to bring their “A games” in the coming year to push back  successfully:

Big, dark money - Dan Besse, editor of the excellent N.C. League of Conservation Voters blog, provides a link this morning to a story in Scientific American from over the holidays that highlights a new Drexel University study about who funds the climate change-denial movement. Surprise! The bucks aren’t coming from the grassroots.

Asheville: facing abolition? As was reported several times in 2013, one of the General Assembly’s most conservative ideologues, Rep. Tim Moffitt of Buncombe County, has been waging a nonstop war with the city of Asheville for some time — whether it’s taking away the city’s water system or its airport. Now, comes word from Asheville Citizen-Times columnist John Boyle that Moffitt may want to go a lot further.

Standing fast in favor of discrimination – Another discouraging story from over the holidays came from the North Carolina Family Policy Council, which is doubling-down in support of discrimination against LGBT kids and families. Read More

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The Associated Press reported yesterday that there is more more evidence of discrimination against Latinos by the long-troubled Alamance County sheriff’s office:

“Two university professors hired by the U.S. Department of Justice to analyze traffic stops by the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office say statistical data conclusively shows deputies there are racially profiling Latino drivers….

John Lamberth, retired chair of the Department of Psychology at Temple University, concluded that Johnson’s deputies cited Latinos for violations at a rate more than six times higher than for whites. He said the statistical odds were far less than one in a million that such a sizable racial disparity could occur by chance.

‘The observed disparities in … traffic enforcement are larger than any I have previously observed at a law enforcement agency in the United States,’ wrote Lamberth, who has testified as an expert in numerous court cases.”

Let’s hope that a settlement can be reached in the case in the near future and that Alamance can start enforcing laws fairly like the vast majority of law enforcement agencies.

You can read the entire story by clicking here.