Sen. Phil Berger

Sen. Phil Berger

One would have thought it tough to top the shameless pandering that Gov. Pat McCrory has engaged in in recent days over the issue of the rights of transgender people. As is explained in this morning’s edition of the Weekly Briefing, McCrory plumbed new depths this week with his embarrassing effort to limit the rights of a Virginia boy trying to live as who he is.

The Governor even went so far as to issue a statement in which he essentially said that transgender people do not exist, but are merely people of one gender masquerading as people of the other.

Now, however, comes word that it may be possible to outdo McCrory. Yesterday, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger issued a statement attacking Attorney General Roy Cooper for not joining McCrory’s pro-discrimination effort. Berger even issued the following through-the-looking-glass tweet:

“Shame on AG for Putting Politics Above Student Safety”

You got that?! Berger is attacking Cooper for playing politics. This is like Vladimir Putin accusing the people of Crimea of aggression against Russia.

The bottom line: If not joining a lawsuit designed to deny basic human rights to a mild mannered 16 year old boy is “playing politics,” North Carolina could use a whole lot more a such “play” and a whole lot less of whatever it is that Berger is shoveling.


Despite having attempted to distance himself from newspaper advertising for a conservative Christian event that featured his image and the words: “Come Join me in a time of worship, prayer, fasting and repentance,” Gov. Pat McCrory did show up and speak at a Saturday event in Charlotte organized by a far right religious group known as the American Renewal Project which argues that the United States is a “Christian nation.”

McCrory used his few minutes on the stage to talk about substance abuse and to ask the people who were in attendance to join in the effort to combat the problem.  “We need your help because government cannot do this alone, you can do it, God can do it,” the Governor stated.

What was weirdest and most disturbing about McCrory’s appearance, however, was the spectacle of several middle aged men crowding around the Governor to lay their hands on him and dispense statements of hate and fear masquerading as “prayer.” Click the video below to watch as a fellow who appears to be American Renewal Project founder David Lane making several remarkable claims, including:

  • that the United States is “a nation founded on the Bible,”
  • that “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,”
  • that the U.S. committed the great sin of removing “prayer and Bibles from the public schools in 1963 after 350 years as a principal component, as the fixed point in order to judge society,”
  • that safe, legal abortion has left “55 million babies dead,”
  • that “homosexuals praying at the inauguration” and “red ink as far as the eye can see” were among the other great sins afflicting the country.

For this, Lane said, the United States “deserves judgment.” He then called on attendees to pray for McCrory and made several other offensive claims — including that the U.S. is a nation that was “founded for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.” Click below to watch:

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Good news from the folks at ACLU of North Carolina:

RALEIGH – The Wake County Board of Commissioners today voted to add lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals to those protected by the county’s employment nondiscrimination policies. The measure, approved as part of a consent agenda, ensures that county employees cannot be discriminated against for their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

“We applaud the Wake County commissioners for joining the growing list of county and city governments that have expanded workplace protections in the interest of fairness and equality,” said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina. “Everyone deserves a fair chance at employment and advancement in the workplace, and no one should ever lose their job because of who they are or who they love. Employers know that part of attracting and retaining the best employees is offering a workplace that is fair, where qualified individuals are not discriminated against based on characteristics unrelated to the job. The sad reality is, despite overwhelming public support for protecting LGBT workers in North Carolina, it is still legal to fire or refuse to hire someone because of their sexual orientation in much of our state. We urge the General Assembly and other local governments across the state to pass comprehensive employment protections for LGBT workers.”

A 2013 Public Policy Polling survey found that 71% of North Carolina voters believe employers should not be able to discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation.

State municipalities that have adopted LGBT nondiscrimination policies include Buncombe, Durham, and Mecklenburg Counties, and the cities of Asheville, Boone, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Charlotte, High Point and Raleigh.

Stand by for some troubled souls on the right to tell us that barring discrimination somehow limits their “religious freedom.”


An editorial in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer rightfully blasts the outrageous and illegal actions of Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis and the preposterous behavior of the presidential candidates who’ve beaten a path to her jail cell and microphone stand:

“While Davis’ action may make her a champion in some circles, she was violating the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that in effect legalized gay marriage in all states. And though she presents herself as a symbol of religious conviction, public officials do not take the oath of office and accept their public salaries (in her case, $80,000) with the option of not doing their duty. Davis is entitled to invoke her conscience and her Bible in refusing to carry out duties she believes go against her beliefs. She can do so by resigning.

But neither her state nor her country gives such officials the right to pick and choose which laws they’ll enforce. Law enforcement officers, judges and elected officials have to act in accordance with the law. Their personal beliefs can’t trump their sworn duty.

Davis’ post is an elected one, so she’ll likely not be turned out of office. But a federal judge warned her that she was not to interfere with the legal licensing process again. He should stand firmly behind that warning.”

It’s as simple as that.


Solitary confinementJust in from the ACLU of NC:

“A coalition of human rights groups yesterday sent a letter asking the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into the use of solitary confinement in North Carolina prisons. The letter comes weeks after President Obama ordered the Justice Department to review the use of solitary confinement across the country and criticized the practice in a major speech on criminal justice reform.

The 15-page letter – signed by North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, the ACLU of North Carolina, the University of North Carolina School of Law Human Rights Policy Seminar, the UNC Center for Civil Rights, and North Carolina Stop Torture Now – chronicles the recent deaths of several inmates held in solitary confinement in North Carolina, as well as the mistreatment and horrific conditions suffered by countless more. One of those prisoners, Michael Anthony Kerr, a 53-year-old former Army sergeant diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, died of dehydration in March 2014 after spending 35 days in solitary confinement. In the letter, the groups document North Carolina’s failure to provide adequate resources for prison mental health services and explain how inmates with mental illness are disciplined for manifestations of their illness and often released directly to the community after months or years in isolation.

‘Understaffed, underfunded, and plagued by arbitrary standards, insufficient oversight, and inadequate resources for inmates with mental illness, North Carolina’s solitary confinement regime must change,’ the letter reads. ‘However, governmental efforts and calls from the media and the public have resulted in little meaningful reform. Every day that the status quo endures without intervention, North Carolina’s system for housing inmates in solitary confinement claims more victims to needless suffering and death.’

The letter is available at

Background: On any given day, as much as 14 percent of North Carolina’s 37,500 prison inmates are locked away in solitary confinement—often for such minor offenses as using profanity. There, they are isolated for 23 to 24 hours a day, without sunlight, fresh air, or contact with human beings. More than one in five of those prisoners placed in isolation require some type of treatment for mental health issues.”