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Bill filed to defy Supreme Court ruling, oppose same-sex marriage in N.C.

Three Republican lawmakers filed a bill in the N.C. House late Wednesday that would declare same-sex marriage illegal in defiance of the United States Supreme Court.

House Bill 65 – the Marriage Amendment Reaffirmation Act – would declare null and void 2015’s landmark Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision. That decision effectively legalized same-sex marriage and invalidated state constitutional amendments banning it, including North Carolina’s.

It’s worth noting Amendment One, constitutionally defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, passed in 2012 with a statewide voter turnout of a mere 35 percent.

HB 65 terms marriages not between one man and one woman “parody marriages,” despite their legality in the United States since 2015.

“On the eve of Valentine’s Day, three NC reps filed a bill to say ‘Love is not Love,'” said LGBTQ advocacy group Equality NC in a statement on the bill. “This is yet another heartless attempt to rewrite settled legislation that protects same-sex couples all across the state. Love will prevail in the face of hate.”

It remains to be seen whether leadership of the General Assembly’s GOP majority will allow a vote on the bill.

Gov. Roy Cooper is on record opposing the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. With recent Democratic gains, Republicans lost the supermajority that allowed them to easily overturn Cooper’s veto.

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On Parkland shooting anniversary, competing gun bills in NC

Rep. Marcia Morey joined the other sponsors of the Gun Violence Prevention Act at a press conference Thursday. (Photo by Kate Rice)

On the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, two very different bills are competing to set North Carolina’s political agenda on guns.

House Bill 86 – the Gun Violence Protection Act – was filed Thursday. It is an omnibus bill that would, among other provisions:

Not properly storing a firearm in a locked container when not in use would be a misdemeanor

  • Allow cities and counties to establish their own rules on where guns are permitted
  • Require gun owners to carry liability insurance
  • Require gun owners to report a lost or stolen weapon to law enforcement within 48 hours
  • Allow law enforcement to destroy firearms they seize
  • Make it a misdemeanor to fail to store a firearm  secure, locked container when not in use.

“This is not political,” said Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham), one of the bill’s sponsors, at a Thursday press conference. “It is about lives and safety – for our children and the people in our communities.”

On Tuesday a competing omnibus bill, House Bill 61,  was filed. Among its other provisions, it would do away with permits to carry a concealed firearm.

Bills to do away with the permit have been repeatedly beaten back, with the help of law enforcement.

But several of the Democratic lawmakers at Thursday’s press conference said it’s time for the state to make progress on what they called common-sense gun regulation.

“This state has gone the exact opposite direction we need to be going,” said Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford).

Democrats in the General Assembly have offered a gun safety bills every year since the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, Harrison said. None of them have gotten a vote.

Lawmakers and advocates held cards at Tuesday’s press conference bearing the names of the victims in the Parkland, Florida shooting. (Photo by Kate Rice)

Harrison said that with more Democrats in office this session, a new and more bipartisan climate may prevail on this issue.

Rep. Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe) agreed.

“People are tired of seeing the extreme partisan bickering that goes on all over the country,” Fisher said. ” Not forgetting about what goes on at the national level. We have a real opportunity in this legislature to stop that. To work across the aisle for the common good.”

“We hope that we get that bipartisan support we need to pass proactive bills rather than waiting for something terrible to happen in North Carolina,” she said.

Even as the press conference unfolded Thursday, police in Garner were responding to a shooting at a Walgreens that seriously injured two employees.

 

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Poll: Slim majority in NC support closing ABC stores, private liquor sales

A new poll from Elon University suggests a slim majority of North Carolinians would support ending the system of government operated ABC liquor stores and instead allow private sales.

The poll, conducted in conjunction with the N.C. General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division, found 52 percent of respondents would support such a proposal. Fifty-seven percent said any store that can currently sell beer or wine should be able to receive a permit to sell liquor as well.

The poll results, released Tuesday, follow a report from the Program Evaluation Division that examined the potential outcomes of ending total government control of wholesale and retail sales.

North Carolina is one of only three states that exercises that level of control over liquor sales. The other two are Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Interestingly, the same slim majority of respondents said they would support ABC stores remaining closed on Sundays.

Respondents who said they don’t shop at ABC stores were far more likely to support the stores remaining closed on Sundays. Only 16 percent of non-shoppers said they believe ABC stores should be open on Sunday, compared to 44 percent of shoppers.

“That support for Sunday sales varied substantially by party and use of ABC stores suggests to me that some local autonomy for Sunday liquor sales might be popular among North Carolinians,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon Poll and associate professor of political science.

The poll was a live-caller, dual-frame (landline and cell phone) survey of 379 registered voters in North Carolina. It was conducted from Oct. 1 to Oct 4. The margin of error was +/- 5 percent.

Read the full results – with methodology – here.

 

 

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New interim chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill no stranger to faculty, student tensions

Kevin Guskiewicz, newly appointed interim chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill.

When Kevin Guskiewicz was named interim chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill this week, he was hardly an unknown quantity.

Guskiewicz joined the faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1995 and has been dean of the College of Arts & Sciences since 2016.

In that role he’s been no stranger to tensions between faculty, students and administration.

Guskiewicz has been criticized by students for what they say is a weak response on two sexual misconduct allegations by the founder of the Institute of Politics, Tanner Glenn.

As laid out in a recent piece in the student newspaper, The Daily Tarheel, students feel Guskiewicz did not act quickly or seriously enough on the allegations – and didn’t do so with transparency.

From the Daily Tarheel story:

 

“During a Dec. 20 phone call that included Guskiewicz, Treul and Ives, Guskiewicz requested a document from the student leadership board outlining all existing issues with Glenn, according to Ives’ notes. The Dean and Treul decided to avoid passing out that document ‘so people could not have some sort of coordinated attack.’

After the phone call, the notes stated that the Dean asked the student leadership board to create a plan for staff by mid-February. Guskiewicz also planned to meet with Glenn that day to ‘talk about the need to think about his next career move and express disappointment that Tanner did not take responsibility for his mistakes.’

Guskiewicz did not respond to a voicemail or emails from the DTH with questions about the IoP’s funding, allegations against Glenn or the student leadership team’s termination vote. ”

 

Last semester, Guskiewicz was drawn into the controversy over the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument that led his predecessor, Carol Folt, to step down from her position.

Guskiewicz and provost Bob Blouin wrote an e-mail discouraging faculty and instructors from supporting the withholding of last semester’s final grades over opposition to the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument.

The email warned of legal ramifications if they participated in the protest action.

“We trust that our instructors will not act in a way that harms the interests of students and their families,” they wrote in the letter. “And that these instructors meet the legal, ethical and moral responsibilities for which they have been contracted. Please consider that your failure to meet your responsibilities to your students, including timely submission of final grades, will result in serious consequences.”

Ultimately, the final grades were released in time to avoid any consequences for either students or instructors.

But Guskiewicz’s dust-ups with faculty go back further.

In 2017, he was part of a case wherein a faculty member filed a grievance over being prevented from teaching a class on the history of sports. The class touched on the UNC athletic scandals of recent years.

Though an independent faculty grievance committee at UNC found administrators’ behavior in the case had been “inconsistent” with UNC’s commitment to academic freedom, UNC leaders rejected that committee’s conclusion that administrators had meddled in the affair.

Some faculty members are talking this week about their discomfort with Guskiewicz as interim chancellor – and his announcement that he will seek the position full-time.

But Leslie Parise, chair of the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty, provided a statement of support for Guskiewicz on the day of his appointment.

“As a faculty member, Dean of the College, and accomplished researcher, Kevin has shown his ability to work across schools and departments and lead with both compassion and critical thought,” Parise said in her statement. “I know he has the very best interests of our students, faculty and staff in mind and his energy and focus will serve us well.”

How Guskiewicz navigates these ongoing controversies as the school’s new leader remain to be seen.

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Report: Murder linked to extremism saw sharp rise in 2018

 

The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism has released its annual report on Murder and Extremism in the United States.

The 2018 numbers show a sharp increase in murders by domestic extremists, especially right-wing groups.

The ADL’s interactive Hate, Extremism, Anti-Semitism and Terror (HEAT) Map shows there were 18 anti-semitic incidents in North Carolina last year and 38 instances of white supremacist propaganda.

Highlights from the national summary:

  • In 2018, domestic extremists killed at least 50 people in the U.S., a sharp increase from the 37 extremist-related murders documented in 2017, though still lower than the totals for 2015 (70) and 2016 (72).  The 50 deaths make 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970.
  • The extremist-related murders in 2018 were overwhelmingly linked to right-wing extremists.  Every one of the perpetrators had ties to at least one right-wing extremist movement, although one had recently switched to supporting Islamist extremism. White supremacists were responsible for the great majority of the killings, which is typically the case.
  • Deadly shooting sprees were a major factor in the high death toll. Five of the 17 incidents involved shooting sprees that caused 38 deaths and injured 33 people.
  • The perpetrator of one of 2018’s deadly shooting sprees, at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, was connected to the misogynistic incel/manosphere movement. In the wake of this attack and a similarly-motivated killing spree in Toronto, Canada, ADL’s COE now tracks such incidents as extremist-related killings and has updated its database to include an earlier incel-linked incident, Elliot Rodger’s 2014 shooting spree.
  • Firearms remain the weapon of choice for extremists who kill. Guns were responsible for 42 of the 50 deaths in 2018, followed by blades or edged weapons.

Read the full report here.