Demonstrators, lawmakers to protest Lt. Gov. Robinson’s anti-LGBTQ remarks at Monday afternoon rally

The following news release was distributed over the weekend by the group Indivisible Triangle Daily Call to Action:

Local Citizens Rally to Demand the Resignation of Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson
The Lieutenant Governor Has Stood By Comments Calling LGBTQ People “Filth”

Raleigh, NC—A group of local citizens is joining with local political leaders to demand the resignation of Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, who was recorded calling LGBTQ people “filth” during a church service over the summer. The rally will be held Monday, October 25, at 4:30 pm in front of the NCGA Building.

Robinson, speaking at the Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove during a visit in June, told the congregation “I’m saying this now, and I’ve been saying it, and I don’t care who likes it: Those issues have no place in a school. There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality — any of that filth.” He went on to add that “Yes, I called it filth. And if you don’t like it that I called it filth, come see me and I’ll explain it to you. It’s time for us to stop letting these children be abused in schools, and it’s not going to happen till the people of God stand up and demand different.”

Despite this offer to discuss his position, Robinson has avoided directly speaking to constituents who are members of the LGBTQ community and continues to repeat his stance. He has also stated that what he calls “transgenderism” (a term frequently used by anti-transgender activists to dehumanize) is being taught in public schools, which is inaccurate and has a chilling effect on teachers and librarians who wish to promote inclusive content.

Rally organizers are calling for Lt. Gov. Robinson to apologize for his comments about LGBTQ people and to make himself available for meetings with impacted persons, community, and faith leaders as he offered to do during his remarks at Asbury Baptist Church. If he is unwilling to do so, North Carolina faith and community leaders will renew their call for him to resign.

Confirmed speakers for the rally include Representative Allison Dahle, Hillsborough Town Commissioner Matt Hughes, Rev. Vance Haywood, and Wake Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Jenna Wadsworth. U.S. Senate candidate Erica Smith is also scheduled to speak. The legendary Raging Grannies will write and sing a song for the rally, as well.

Number of religious leaders, people of faith condemning Lt. Governor’s “filth” remark against LGBTQ community grows

Rev. Nancy Petty of Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.

Though Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s hateful attack on LGBTQ people was uttered in a Christian church, it continues to draw a growing chorus of condemnations and calls for his resignation from people of faith and religious leaders. Last week, a group of North Carolina-based church leaders issued a rebuke to Robinson in an event outside of his official office. The group demanded:

— that Robinson plainly and publicly apologize for his remarks and the damage they inflicted on LGBTQ people everywhere,

— that he sit down and engage in dialogue with the protesting group,

— failing items #1 and 2, that he resign or be removed from office.

 

Today, the national group Faithful America (which is organizing a petition calling for Robinson’s resignation) issued this statement:

Washington, D.C. — For months, far-right Christian nationalists have turned public school board meetings into battlefields, waging their culture wars at the expense of children’s education. These incidents have sprung up around the country, but North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson is taking the practice to a whole new level by telling a church congregation that right-wing Christians should take over public schools to prevent the teaching of LGBTQ equality.

Nearly 10,000 members of Faithful America and counting, the largest online community of Christians acting for love and social justice, are now calling on Robinson to resign. Their voices join a chorus of other organizations who are exerting pressure as well, including People for the American Way, the Human Rights Campaign, and multiple state senators in North Carolina.

Video of Robinson’s remarks surfaced this month in which you can clearly hear him tell a room full of congregants “there’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth.” The comments were made this past summer.

After public outcry, Robinson has refused to so much as apologize for his comments, instead insisting that his warped religious beliefs about LGBTQ people are separate from his political responsibilities. But the truth is, he has a long history of making religiously-charged political statements, including incorrectly calling America a “Christian nation.”

Needless to say, Robinson’s expressed views on the LGBTQ community are an affront to the Gospel as much as they are an affront to public office.

“Derision and exclusion are antithetical to the loving and inclusive teachings of Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are called to open our arms and our hearts to all of our neighbors, to respect the God-given dignity of all of God’s creation, and to never turn away a person because of who or how they love,” said Rev. Nathan Empsall, executive director of Faithful America. “Lt. Gov. Robinson’s remarks are a vile betrayal of Christian values, and Faithful America’s members have no patience for anyone who hijacks Jesus’s name to advance a political agenda of hate and division.”

Meanwhile a large group of North Carolina-based Jewish leaders weighed in as well:

We, the undersigned, condemn Lt. Governor Mark Robinson’s continued bigoted rhetoric attacking the North Carolina LGBTQ community. While the Lt. Governor recently attempted to justify his hateful words, we find his clarification to be lacking. Given his history of inflammatory statements, we demand he clearly and unequivocally apologize.

In the Book of Genesis, we read very clearly that God has created humanity in the Divine Image, which compels us to recognize all of humanity to be a part of the Creation and deserving of our support and love, not hatred nor insult. Members of the LGBTQ community, like the rest of us, are created in the image of God and have added tremendously to the lives of people in this state and country. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect as individuals, let alone for their contributions to our world.

Lt. Governor Robinson’s oratory and writings have been laced with Holocaust-themed language, which not only belittles the six million Jews and members of the LGBTQ community who were murdered during the Holocaust, but is particularly frightening in light of growing antisemitism and homophobic acts which we witness in North Carolina and the U.S.

The Book of Proverbs teaches, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” (Pr. 18:21)

Lt. Governor: Your cruel, damaging words have real-world consequences. LGBTQ youth are at great risk for suicide and self-harm. We have lost faith in your leadership and find your rhetoric to be blasphemous.

Acknowledge and apologize, repair and change your ways, Lt. Governor. Those are the steps of the repentant soul. We can no longer tolerate an elected official who holds such a high office in our great state of North Carolina speaking with such vitriolic, antisemitic, and homophobic language that reflects so poorly on our state, incites further hatred and life-threatening behaviors, and only divides our population.

Rabbi Joshua Ben-Gideon, Beth David Synagogue, Greensboro
Rabbi Philip J. Bentley, Agudas Israel Congregation, Hendersonville
Rabbi Kenneth Brickman, Sandhills Jewish Congregation, Pinehurst
Rabbi Mark Cohn, Temple Emanuel, Winston-Salem
Rabbi Robin Damsky, Limitless Judaism, Durham
Rabbi Lucy Dinner, Temple Beth Or, Raleigh
Rabbi Ariel Edery, Beth Shalom, Raleigh
Rabbi Dr. Andrew Vogel Ettin, Temple Israel, Salisbury
Rabbi Libby Fischer, Temple Emanuel, Greensboro
Rabbi John Friedman, Durham
Rabbi Fred Guttman, Emeritus, Temple Emanuel, Greensboro
Rabbi Rachael Jackson, Agudas Israel Congregation, Hendersonville
Rabbi Raachel Jurovics, Ph.D., Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina
Rabbi Asher Knight, Temple Beth El, Charlotte
Rabbi Andy Koren, Temple Emanuel, Greensboro
Cantor Karen N. Kumin, Yavneh: A Jewish Renewal Community, Raleigh
Rabbi Mitchell Levine, Congregation Beth Israel, Asheville
Rabbi Dr. Laura Lieber, Duke University, Durham
Rabbi Emily Ilana Losben-Ostrov, Temple Israel, Wilmington
Cantor Jacqueline Marx, Pluralistic Rabbinical Seminary, Carrboro
Rabbi Batsheva Meiri, Congregation Beth HaTephila, Asheville
Rabbi Rachel Smookler, The Ruach Community, Charlotte
Rabbi Matthew Soffer, Judea Reform Congregation, Durham
Rabbi Eric Solomon, Beth Meyer Synagogue, Raleigh
Rabbi Jennifer Solomon, Beth Meyer Synagogue, Raleigh
Rabbi Michael Wolk, Temple Israel, Charlotte

Raleigh joins Wake County in new non-discrimination protections

The Raleigh City Council unanimously voted to join in a new, LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance Tuesday, the day after the ordinance was passed by Wake County.

The move makes North Carolina’s capital city the 15th local government in the state to pass such an ordinance since a ban on local non-discrimination ordinances expired late last year.

The ban was one of the legacies of 2016’s brutal fight over HB2, the controversial law that excluded lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from statewide nondiscrimination protections. Though House Bill 142 partially repealed HB2, it locked in place a ban on new LGBTQ protections — including nondiscrimination ordinances for employment and housing.

In January the town of Hillsborough became the fist local government to pass new local protections.

The ordinance in Raleigh and Wake County offer protections against discrimination based on “sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression” as well as national origin and ancestry, color, ethnicity, religious belief, disability and things like veteran status or the wearing of natural hair or hairstyles. The protections apply in places of public accommodation like restaurants and hotels as well as in employment.

Jonathan Melton, Raleigh City Council member.

State law continues to govern access to multiple occupancy restrooms, showers or changing facilities. They are not covered by any of the new local ordinances and religious organizations continue to be exempt.

“I’m proud to see the Raleigh City Council come together to take action and ensure our city is a place where all people feel protected, respected, and safe,” said Raleigh City Council Member Jonathan Melton in a statement Tuesday. “As an LGBTQ person myself, it’s so meaningful to know that my city is striving for inclusivity and dignity for everyone, and as an out elected official I’m grateful to work with colleagues committed to doing the right thing.”

With the addition of Raleigh,  North Carolina’s five largest cities – including Greensboro,  Durham, Winston-Salem and Charlotte – all offer such protections.

“We’re so pleased to see Raleigh take this historic step to expand nondiscrimination,” said Kendra Johnson, executive director of Equality NC. “Nearly 30 percent of the state’s population is now covered by LGBTQ inclusive ordinances, and this represents a great change for the city of Raleigh and the state of North Carolina. Raleigh has taken a big step forward to protect LGBTQ people, especially for folks with multiple layers of marginalization, and this only grows momentum for the non-discrimination on the local, state, and federal level.”

Equality NC and the Campaign for Southern Equality have led the charge for new non-discrimination ordinances though the NC is Ready for LGBTQ Protections campaign. The groups point to polling that shows 67 percent of North Carolinians support protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination.

Polling shows that 67% of people in North Carolina support protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. Studies have shown that 1 in 3 LGBTQ people – including 3 in 5 transgender people – have experienced discrimination in the past year.

NC House Democrats condemn Lt. Governor’s homophobic comments. He insists he was talking about school materials.

NC Democratic House members Marcia Morey, Vernetta Alston, and Allison Dahle at a news conference Tuesday.

A group of NC House Democrats spoke in support of LGBTQ residents at a news conference Tuesday while condemning Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s homophobic remarks in a video that surfaced last week.

“We’re all here to affirm the value and importance of LGBTQ people, but I hope also to represent the kind of support that this community has in every corner of our state,” said Rep. Vernetta Alston, a Durham Democrat.

Alston and Rep. Allison Dahle, a Raleigh Democrat, noted the Trevor Project National Survey on LGBTQ mental health reported that 42% of LGBTQ youth had seriously considered suicide in the past year.

In a video recorded at a church, Robinson, a Republican, called “transgenderism” and homosexuality “filth.”

“When you live in a place where you’re pointed out as something not good, it’s really hard to process that,” Dahle said.

The White House has condemned Robinson’s comments. Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte Democrat, called on Robinson to resign.

Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday none of their GOP colleagues called them to offer support after news of the Robinson video spread.

“Last week the Lieutenant Governor lit a match of hatred and intolerance that deserves a response from gay elected officials and it’s what our constituents want us to do,” said Marcia Morey, a Durham Democrat. “Hate and name calling has no place in the public discourse. Just like the N-word is abhorrent, so is calling transgenderism and homosexuality as ‘filth.’”

Robinson posted a Facebook video on Oct. 9, where he said his comments at the church were about school reading material. He mentioned three books with LGBTQ themes, “George,” “Lawn Boy,” and “Gender Queer: A memoir.”

All three have been challenged in other states. Parents in Texas and Virginia had Lawn Boy and Gender Queer pulled from school libraries, The Washington Post reported. Both won are recipients of American Library Association Alex Awards, which each year recognize 10 books “written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.”

Marshall University Libraries cited George on its list of the most recently challenged books of 2020-2021.

Robinson repeated the assertion at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, as a stood by a panel from the graphic novel Gender Queer, saying it was too explicit for schools.

“We talking about materials  – inappropriate materials – that are being presented to our children. And we’re talking about those politicians who have demonized me because I’m trying to get this out of our classrooms,” he said.

Robinson said he’s received racist messages at his office.

Robinson has a history of homophobic comments, dating before his election last fall. He did not want to discuss those Tuesday.

“I don’t want to talk about Facebook posts right now,” he said. “Let’s just drop the whole Facebook thing and let’s talk about the subject matter at hand.”

At the House Democrats’ news conference, Dahle countered Robinson’s  contention that he was focused on schools, and quoted Robinson’s comments at the church: “There’s no reason anybody, anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth.”

Dahle said, “That doesn’t seem like it was focused on education.”

Morey called Robinson’s insistence that he was talking about school books a “bait and switch.”

“It started out as a church video, and it was disgusting,” she said. “And now it has pivoted to what kids are reading in schools. These are really two different issues. I that we all want good, solid literature that kids can read. Don’t conflate this with the words of hate and filth that sparked this entire debate.”

“A giant step forward.” Wake County advances nondiscrimination ordinance.

Formal vote now set for October 18th session.

Matt Calabria, chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners

Wake County Commissioners voiced strong support Monday for expanding the county’s nondiscrimination ordinance, offering greater protections to the LGBTQ community and others.

“This will really ensure that all businesses are prohibited from discriminating, including and especially in the context of employment and public accommodations,” explained Board of Commissioners Chairman Matt Calabria.

“There’s a simple underlying principle here. No one should be discriminated against because of who they are. That’s it.”

Calabria said making North Carolina’s cities and the counties more inclusive and welcoming is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do.

He noted that many of the very businesses Wake County would like to recruit are looking for policies that will enable them to attract the best talent, not deter prospective employees from wanting to move to the region.

Vice Chair Vickie Adamson

Wake County’s proposed policy will cover a broad base of characteristics, prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex, pregnancy, marital or familial status, LGBTQ status, disability, natural hair or hairstyles, and a number of other factors.

The ordinance will also require that anyone wishing to do business with the county certify that they don’t discriminate as a condition of winning a future contract or bid.

Wake County Vice Chair Vickie Adamson echoed Calabria’s support for the ordinance, offering a personal story.

“As a family member of quite a few people in the LGBTQ community, I worry about them. Are they going to be heard? Are people going to hurt their feelings? Hopefully when they chose to come to Wake County they’ll be safer,” she explained. “I think we’re making a giant step forward for Wake County.”

Studies have shown that 1 in 3 LGBTQ people have experienced discrimination in the past year.

Commissioner Maria Cervania

Commissioner Maria Cervania joined Adamson in offering her colleagues an emotional word of thanks.

“I am so happy to be part of a group of people that actually has a commitment towards showing that we are all in this to see each other for who we are as people…to be fair and respectful.”

Wake County Commissioners will formally vote on the nondiscrimination resolution at their October 18th meeting.

If approved it will take effect February 1, 2022.

Raleigh City Council is slated to take up their own nondiscrimination ordinance when they meet Tuesday at 4:00pm.