Amendment One: The Morning After


This morning as I woke up and put my plan in place to get some work done and visit my son in the hospital, I couldn’t help but feel sad. Since I moved to NC I have often be proud of the state, but last night was not one of them.  I will never understand why we had to go over and beyond what was already illegal.  Gay marriage was already illegal according to the state constitution.  Why did we have to go over and beyond that.  Is there that much hatred towards our gay brothers and sisters, that we had to go so far to discriminate against them?  Is the hatred so much that we needed to harm straight couples who don’t believe in marriage, or weaken protections for victims of domestic violence who aren’t married, or potentially harm children of unmarried couples.

That is what makes this so hard for me.  The state didn’t just further prevent gay marriage, instead it stripped the rights of tens of hundreds of people and children in the state.  I can’t imagine what it must feel like for any of those impacted to wake up this morning and know that over 1 million people in their home state voted against them and their rights.  How do we explain to our children that hatred won out?  How can we expect our future generations to not be driven by hate, if we can’t lead by example.  North Carolina had another chance to lead the south by example, only this time we failed.  I hope every couple gay and straight, and their children will take solace in the fact that over 800,000 people stood with them, and that they do have support here.  I hope that those same couples who live in other states, who once considered moving here, will not be discouraged and change their minds, and realize that there are people here who will stand and fight with them.  I hope that the coalition of people who stood together to fight this hateful amendment will continue to work together to keep the fight going, and show those impacted that we love and support them and will stand with them to the end.

The quote that I live my life by forbids me from believing that hate will win out in the end.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Will BBQ cost Rick Perry a shot at NC?


If Governor Rick Perry, stays on his current path as a GOP front runner, he is going to have to campaign in NC at least once.  Depending on how well he does, multiple times.  Something from his past may come back to bite him.  People in NC are passionate about their BBQ.  There are debates about whether eastern or western carolina has the best, Lexington who has a style of their own likes to make claim to theirs being the best.  One thing most everyone here can agree on is that any NC BBQ is better than no BBQ and definitely better than BBQ from somewhere else.

Apparently, Rick Perry doesn’t like NC BBQ.  Eastern NC BBQ to be more specific.  In fact he claims roadkill tastes better!  I have never eaten at the place who catered the meal, but after looking them up and their reviews, to prefer roadkill you have to just hate that style of BBQ.  I think I may have to make a trip and try it myself (when I do, I will report back).

The point is, we love our BBQ in NC no matter what side of the state you live.  Some of you may say that BBQ has nothing to do with the issues Perry is campaigning on.  That may be true, but when someone from a state who claims to have the best BBQ (false claim), and attacks our BBQ as lower than roadkill he will have an uphill battle to win support.  Maybe he will just avoid the Eastern Part of the state altogether and avoid the issue.  But no matter where he goes, he will have to answer for his comments.

Don’t mess with Texas, whatever.  When it comes to BBQ, don’t mess with NC!

In the Heat of the Night: NC Begins Assault on Gay Rights


Update: 9/13/11 – Senate passes it as well 30-16

 

I have previously written about the possibility of NC succumbing to southern peer pressure on same-sex marriage.  Well the process is off to a good start for supporters of the constitutional amendment. In a move that will surely upset opponents of this, about 5 hours after the bill was introduced it had passed the house by a vote of  75-42.  It now heads to the senate where passage is a little harder to determine.  While there is support in the senate the question is whether they have enough votes to get it through.

The real tricks in the night are about how they got the votes in the house.  This bill would make the constitutional amendment a ballot initiative and let the NC voters determine its fate.  They wanted to get support from some house democrats and so they made a slight change in the details.  Some of the house democrats supported the measure, but thought that putting on the November 2012 ballot, was a way to increase voter turnout in a presidential race for conservative republicans.  State republicans though, know it was less about voter turnout in a presidential election and more about pushing same-sex couples out of this state.  So they gladly moved it to the May primary ballot, which got them enough support from house democrats.

The majority of people voting in the May primary will be republicans since they are the only ones with a contested race.  This move virtually guarantees that the ballot initiative will get the votes it needs.  Pending what happens in the senate, opponents are going to have to do GOTV efforts to people who would not ordinarily vote in the May primaries to push this back.  It was a sneaky move done in the night hours.

You already know my feelings on the issue of same-sex marriages, so I won’t go into those details again.  But for a state with high unemployment this is a great way to welcome new people and businesses to our state.  Go ahead and tell the gay community they are not welcome in this state.  Don’t move here, don’t spend money here, don’t open a business here, don’t raise children here because you are not welcome.  Also, what a great way to show support for those already living here.  What message are you sending them?  You can live here and spend money here, but we won’t allow you the same rights as others.

Sad day for the state of North Carolina!

Is NC Caving to Southern Peer Pressure on Same-Sex Marriage?


For those who live in NC know by now that a fight is shaping up on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The coverage is showcasing the battle lines.  Democrats are coming together and taking the stance the amendment hurts job creation among other things.

Republicans are utilizing African-American ministers to lead their public fight to get the amendment through.  This has been an ongoing battle for years, but with the democrats being in control for so long the votes were always blocked.  Since the 2010 mid-term elections, when republicans took control of the house and senate.

It seems like they have been using this time to either introduce bad policy, or turn back good policy from years past. On the issue of same-sex marriage, they can finally succumb to southern peer pressure and push this through.  If they are successful, NC will no longer be the only southern state without a constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriage.

I for one, hope that they fail.  I fully support fight for same-sex marriages, and do not understand the harsh fight against it.  We supposedly have the separation of church and state and so any religious reasoning for an amendment should be nullified.  Also, I am not sure how it hurts straight couples to allow same-sex marriages.  How would allowing this impact your marriage, or what your marriage means?  Marriage is supposed to be a life long commitment between two people who love each other.  This should be the case regardless of the sexes involved.

With divorce rates hovering around the 50% mark, it seems straight couples have their own problem protecting the sanctity of marriage. So here’s to hoping that the current attack on same-sex marriage fails, and NC can hold off peer pressure.

Thanks to NC’s budget, unemployment back on the rise


After the 2010 election cycle, the republicans took over the majority in the house and senate.  During their campaigns they made lots of promises about creating jobs.  In practice they did the opposite.  The big item during the session was the state budget and dealing with the shortfall.  It seemed like from the beginning, they were more focused on cutting out state into the past than they were about creating jobs and moving our state forward.

In fact, it seemed like at every opportunity during the budget debate, they did more to hurt jobs.  They attacked tax credits like the state eitc and the child care credit, that encourage low-income families to work.  They seemed to want to cut every environmental program and had their hearts set on defunding Planned Parenthood.  They wanted to increase rates on small finance loans, and roll back the financial protections the state has become known for.  With all this, it seemed they were more concerned with turning back time and less concerned with creating jobs for the future.

What they did do was ignore calls to take a balance approach to the budget, and chose to make severe cuts rather than some cuts and increased revenues.  The latest unemployment numbers begin to show that.  All the cuts in state government meant cutting lots of jobs or eliminating positions that had yet to be filled.  As a result, there were over 10 thousand fewer jobs available in June.  This may be only the beginning as more agencies make cuts going forward, more jobs will have to be cut.

I fail to see how they delivered on promises of job creation, but see plenty of evidence of eliminating jobs.  They seemed more focused on undoing the work of the past and this holds an eerie resemblance to how republicans in D.C. handled their new-found power.  Less about solving problems and more about a undoing the past.

Unhappy New Year


This post was written by Kevin Rogers and is cross post from www.actionnc.org

 

What does July 1st mean to you? Well, since it’s the start of the new fiscal year for the government, and North Carolina has cut billions of dollars from the budget, it means you get less government services.

Yay!

Among the thousands of cuts to vital government services that you will not see directly because they are behind the scenes, there are a number of cuts that you will see, and feel, directly.

The N&O has a whole article about it today.  Highlights include:

  • The state Capitol will now be closed on Sundays.
  • The State Archives and State Library Building is cutting its Saturday hours from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. (instead of 5 p.m.)
  • Visitor parking rates at the Downtown State Government Complex will double from $1 to $2. Lost tickets will now cost $16 instead of $8.
  • The N.C. Transportation Museum will begin charging $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and military, and $6 for children under 12. In the past, visitors paid only for rides which cost $5 or $6. The new rates will include the rides.
  • Thomas Wolfe House in Asheville will raise the price of a tour from $3 to $5 for an adult, and from $1 to $2 for a student.
  • The Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City will be closed on Sundays.
  • The N. C. Zoo in Asheboro is raising the price of tickets by $2. Children will pay $8, adults will pay $12 and seniors and students will pay $10. A one-year membership increases by $10.

These, of course, are trivial cuts compared the drastic cuts we’ve seen in education, transportation, and social service funding.

But don’t dispair, there is some good news – your sales tax will drop 1%!

Good thing – that extra 1% sales tax is predicted to cost the average North Carolinian $107 a year.  Whew!  That’s totally worth firing hundreds of teachers, delaying critical infrastructure repair, and giving huge tax breaks to corporations.

We’re sure that will create lots of jobs, too.  Oh… maybe not.

Can the Tea Party hold its line in the sand on the Debt Ceiling?


Unless you have chosen to not watch the news over the last several months you know that there is some fierce debate happening in Washington about the debt ceiling.  In a nutshell, if we don’t raise the debt ceiling we run the risk of not being able to pay our bills as a country, ruin our credit rating, and a myriad of other bad things depending on who you ask.  This USA Today article does a good job of explaining the various points of view.

During the midterm election season, the tea party slot of candidates  all drew a hard-line when it came to the debt ceiling. They would not vote to raise the debt ceiling at all, no questions asked.  Once they got in office the line was softened a bit, once they realized that there pretty much would be no option other than to raise it.  The new line became they would not vote to raise it unless it came it was partnered with serious spending cuts that would begin to reduce our national debt over the next 10 years.  That sounds great and all, but why risk hurting our credit rating and the country’s ability to do business over spending cuts.  To me it makes more sense to ensure our rating is protected, and the world markets are stable, and then engage in some serious talks about getting our debt under control.

Simply cutting our way out of debt is not the simple solution to the problem. Any tax cuts also have to be paired with new revenues.  It doesn’t matter how much we cut if we aren’t also raising new money.  Without raising new money, we will always have a need to borrow no matter how much gets cut.  The problem is that no one on the republican or tea party side is willing talk about new revenues, a cuts only approach is all they are willing to talk about.  We recently had this same battle here in NC and the resulting budget is going to be devastating to this state.  Why can’t republicans and tea party politicians see this?  Is it really about holding the line on a political struggle?

Some tea party members are still holding the original line.  They want a budget that is limited by the current debt ceiling or nothing else.  A prime example of this is freshman Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin.  He has clearly laid out his position here, and is sticking with it.  So much so that is he holding up Senate business.  He has pledged to hold up business by blocking all unanimous consent calls.  A lot of what the Senate does is based on these unanimous consent calls to bring something up for a vote.  In a moment of protecting the line in the sand, he wants to hold up all Senate business until he gets what he wants.

My take on the issue is that adding more debt is a bad thing, but protecting our countries credibility is more important.  No matter how you feel about debt or spending, protecting the country should come first.  Then we can have serious conversations about what is needed to get the debt under control.  But once these conversations get started both sides need to negotiate in good faith, understanding that it will take both cuts and new revenues to solve the problem.  The problem isn’t just about the eliminating debt, it is also about reducing the need to borrow.  Once politicians figure that out maybe we can make some progress and stop holding party lines for the sake of winning a power struggle.  They need to remember this isn’t about them, but rather the people they have been voted in by to serve.