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Monday, den 22. April 2013

Thanks in no small part to massive spending by just one Republican donor , Republicans now control the entirety of North Carolina’s government for the first time in more than a century.

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Friday, den 14. September 2012

The words “tea party” are not normally associated with moderation and restraint, but a group known as the Asheville Tea Party is extreme even by tea party standards. The Asheville Tea Party published a lengthy rant comparing President Obama to Hitler (sample quote: “Hitler took control of the banks….Obama took control of the banks. Hitler installed Socialized medicine….Obama’s Administration passed Socialized medicine.”).

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Category: Affordable Care Act, Arizona, author, Congress, Economy, Feeds, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, Pennsylvania, Politics, Science, ThinkProgress, Tweets | Comments Off
Thursday, den 9. August 2012

In The Campaign , which opens tomorrow , Will Ferrell is Cam Brady, an ambitious, skirt-chasing politician with a $900 haircut and a remarkable amount of self-admiration. So you could be forgiven for thinking that the setting of the movie, North Carolina, was chosen to highlight a passing resemblance to a certain former Senator and vice presidential candidate . Ferrell’s co-star, Zach Galifianakis, is a native of Wilkesboro, N.C., and his uncle, Nick Galifianakis, represented the state in the U.S.

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Sunday, den 8. July 2012

Earlier this week, the North Carolina legislature received exactly the 72 votes needed to override Governor Bev Perdue’s veto of controversial legislation opening up the state to hydraulic fracturing. But the 72nd vote was a mistaken one from Democrat lawmaker Rep. Becky Carney, who recognized it immediately after casting her vote.

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Category: author, Climate Progress, Economy, Feeds, Global Warming, Health, House Speaker, Justice, LGBT, Media, Politics, Science, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War | Comments Off
Wednesday, den 4. July 2012

The North Carolina legislature overrode Gov. Bev Perdue’s (D) veto to pass a budget that defunds Planned Parenthood . The lawmakers tried to block state funds to Planned Parenthood last year, but after a judge blocked the provision, they got around a potential legal challenge by not specifically naming the women’s health organization

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Thursday, den 21. June 2012

A bill that would gut North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act was voted out of committee in the state Senate today.

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Tuesday, den 5. June 2012

Emboldened by a recently enacted constitutional amendment prohibiting civil unions and same-sex marriage, North Carolina’s Republican party adopted a platform yesterday that condones discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation.” The platform’s Article Ill: Individual Liberty states: Government should treat all citizens impartially , without regard to wealth, race, ethnicity, disability, religion, sex, political affiliation or national origin. We oppose all forms of invidious discrimination. Sexual orientation is not an appropriate category . The document also argues that “The ideal environment for raising children is a two-parent family with a mother and father who are married and committed to that life-long relationship” and opposes “adoption by same sex couples.” Currently, the state does not have a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. (HT: Progressive Pulse )

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Category: author, Economy, Environment, Feeds, Health, Justice, LGBT, Marriage Equality, Media, Republican Party, Science, ThinkProgress, Tweets, Video | Comments Off
Wednesday, den 30. May 2012

Last month, Dr. Robert Spitzer, the psychologist who helped declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder, disavowed a study he published just a decade ago suggesting that ex-gay therapy could be effective. Acknowledging the many flaws in his research, he apologized “to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy.” He even published these remarks in a  letter to the editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior , essentially retracting the study to the fullest extent he can. Nevertheless, ex-gay organizations have continued to use his study and previous remarks defending the study against his wishes. The Mormon ex-gay group Evergreen International insisted it will still use the study, calling it “ good science ,” regardless of Spitzer’s admissions to the contrary. Another ex-gay organization, PFOX, is still using video of Spitzer defending the study, as well as the study itself . In a new interview with Truth Wins Out , Spitzer specifically addressed the PFOX video, but admitted it’s unlikely ex-gay groups will ever subside in their “hateful” efforts: SPITZER: I ask that PFOX stop showing this video. This is quite misleading. I had no way, really, of knowing when I examined any particular subject whether they really had changed or whether they were deceiving themselves or even outright lying when they claimed that they had changed. So, please don’t show this [video] to anyone. The people who are pushing the ‘ex-gay’ idea are so full of hatred for homosexuality, really, that I don’t think they can respond in an ethical way . If people can recognize that being a homosexual is something that cannot be changed and that efforts to change are going to be disappointing and can be harmful, if that can be more widely known that would be very good. If somebody is troubled that they are homosexual, what they ought to do is face up to that and so something so they are more comfortable living with the way they are, because any attempt to change is misguided . Watch the full interview : Spitzer’s study may have been faulty, but the 80-year-old researcher seems to be doing everything he can to make amends for it. Any organization that claims his prior work as valid proof that sexual orientation can be changed is lying with malicious — and harmful— intent.

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Wednesday, den 30. May 2012

Today, 80 percent of ExxonMobil shareholders voted not to extend non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This was one of the largest defeats the proposal has met since it was first introduced in 1999. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli had led the effort this year, seeking also for the oil giant to offer health benefits to the spouses of employees married in New York. ExxonMobil continues to be the least LGBT-friendly company in the Fortune 500, maintaining the only negative score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index. A Change.org petition is underway to encourage the company to do better by its LGBT employees.

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Tuesday, den 29. May 2012

Photo via Hickory Daily Record Thousands of protesters gathered this weekend outside of the North Carolina church where Pastor Charles Worley preaches. Worley came under fire last week after saying the U.S. should build an electrified fence to create a concentration camp for all gay people and “in a few years they’ll die out.” In the past, Worley has also spoken fondly of the days when gay people would be “hung, bless God, from a white oak tree.” Protesters and counter-protesters from around the country showed up outside of Worley’s church, Providence Road Baptist Church, to either fight or support Worley’s message. Check out the crowd: Fox Charlotte has more coverage from the ground in North Carolina. Churches are not permitted to advocate for political outcomes, and since Worley’s hateful comments were directly aimed at President Obama and Congress, a formal request has been made to the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of his church. Some activists are taking a less legal route: There were reports of an attempted arson at the church this weekend.

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Monday, den 14. May 2012

From: Extra Credit Diana Delgado As student debt surpasses trillion dollar mark, students express frustration with not-so bright future ahead of them.

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Saturday, den 12. May 2012

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) is the latest Democratic leader to follow in President Obama’s footsteps and express his support for marriage equality. Earlier this year when a same-sex marriage bill was introduced in the Illinois, Quinn said he was “ not sure ” if he supported it. According to his spokeswoman, he now “looks forward to working on this issue in the future with the General Assembly.”

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Category: author, Barack Obama, Economy, Feeds, Health, Justice, LGBT, Marriage Equality, Media, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War | Comments Off
Wednesday, den 9. May 2012

Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty (R) deserves particular credit for killing civil unions and 30 other bills. Civil unions are dead for this year in Colorado and Republican obstruction is to blame after an unprecedented night of antics on the House floor. The civil unions bill passed out of its final committee yesterday evening and needed to reach a floor vote by midnight. Republicans instead chose to intentionally run out the clock with hour-long debates on noncontroversial legislation about historic license plates and trans-fats in school lunchrooms , with Rep. David Balmer (R) filibustering, “Not a one of you has the courage to vote against chocolate!” Rep. B.J. Nikkel (R), one of several Republicans who supported civil unions in committee, offered to help Democrats regain control to force a vote. The presiding officer declared a recess as an attempted coup ensued. In this exclusive behind-the-scenes clip from OutFront Colorado , it’s obvious that House Speaker Frank McNulty (R) is seen holding the civil unions bill hostage, refusing to guarantee that he would bring it up to a vote. In fact, he dishonestly rejected the notion that any sort of stalling tactic was underway. Meanwhile, Rep. Mark Waller (R) attempted to play damage control on the floor, evoking uproarious laughter from the press when he claimed, “The Democrats in the State House right now are playing procedural games to have one bill heard over every other bill.” Ultimately, the House never came out of recess. Not only did the civil unions bill die, but so did 30 other pieces of legislation , including $20 million worth of water projects statewide and a controversial bill that would set a standard for driving while stoned. Upon news the bills were dying, people in the gallery started booing and chanting, “Shame on you! Shame on you!” Watch how McNulty tried to blame the failure on an “impasse,” disingenuously suggesting “it is unfortunate that there will be items that do not receive consideration by the House tonight”: But of course, McNulty is fully responsible for that impasse. He tried to pass the buck by blaming Senate Democrats for delaying introduction of the bill, but left out one important detail. Sen. Pat Steadman (D), the bill’s sponsor, explained that he brought the bill up late specifically because the speaker pro tem, Rep. Kevin Priola (R), was considering sponsoring the bill but wanted to wait until after the GOP state convention in mid-April. Priola supports the bill, but never bothered to sign on as the House sponsor, despite the delay at his request. The Denver Post has called on Gov. John Hickenlooper to call a special session of the legislature so that civil unions can pass. Unfortunately, even in a special session, McNulty could reshuffle committee membership to prevent the bill from advancing to the floor. There is no way to spin the absurd obstruction that took place last night. Despite ample support for civil unions from Republicans, it was the Republican House leadership that sacrificed 30 other bills to prevent same-sex couples from obtaining legal rights. It’s an historically sad day for Colorado politics.

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Saturday, den 5. May 2012

Despite the important victory last night, the fate of Colorado’s civil unions bill still faces several hurdles in the Republican-controlled House. To pass before lawmakers adjourn next week, it must advance through two more committees and make it to a floor vote by Tuesday. As Andrew Bateman notes at ColoradoPols , the GOP leadership has multiple tactics it could employ, such as the committee chair waiting 72 hours to sign the bill, the Majority Leader not scheduling a floor vote, or the Speaker requiring it to advance through additional committees. In his January State of the State address,  Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) said “It’s time to pass civil unions,” and should the House let the bill die, he could call for a special session to make sure the legislature finishes its business.

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Saturday, den 5. May 2012

This afternoon, the Colorado House Finance Committee voted to pass the Civil Unions Act with a 7-6 vote. It now proceeds to the House Appropriations Committee, which must approve it in time to advance it to a full floor vote by Tuesday. The Republican leadership could still stall the bill so that it dies when the legislature adjourns next week, but this committee vote suggests it may well be on track to pass. A poll last month found that 62 percent of Coloradans support the measure.

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Thursday, den 3. May 2012

The Rev. Billy Graham announced his support for North Carolina’s discriminatory Amendment 1 on Wednesday, in what some characterized as an unusual endorsement. “Watching the moral decline of our country causes me great concern,” he said. “I believe the home and marriage is the foundation of our society and must be protected.” He added: “The Bible is clear — God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I want to urge my fellow North Carolinians to vote for the marriage amendment.” The measure, which goes before voters on May 8, would outlaw same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships in the state constitution.

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Thursday, den 3. May 2012

For the past few months, Vanderbilt University has faced strong pushback from Christian student groups over its policy requiring all on-campus organizations to abide by the university’s non-discrimination statement, which includes sexual orientation protections. The groups claim that by being forced to allow gay students to participate and run for officer positions, they themselves are being discriminated against for their faith. The university has stood by its policy, arguing that because all students pay fees, all students should have equal access to campus resources. This week, the issue escalated as the Tennessee legislature passed a bill threatening to cut state funding to any university that does not allow its religious student clubs to discriminate according to their beliefs. Though he does not agree with Vanderbilt’s policy, Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has committed to  vetoing the bill — his first veto in office — because he considers it government overreach: HASLAM: It is counter-intuitive to make campus organizations open their membership and leadership positions to anyone and everyone, even when potential members philosophically disagree with the core values and beliefs of the organization.  Although I disagree with Vanderbilt’s policy, as someone who strongly believes in limited government, I think it is inappropriate for government to mandate the policies of a private institution . Despite the veto, the debate will surely rage on. A nation-wide group known as the Christian Legal Society (which also has a Vanderbilt chapter) took a similar fight at a public college all the way to the Supreme Court a few years ago and lost . In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez , the Court found that “all-comers” policies were viewpoint neutral, and thus are no more unfair to Christian groups than any other student groups. Despite the broad support they’ve received from the religious right , the Christian groups’ arguments generally lack merit. They allege that their organizations could somehow be infiltrated by antagonistic individuals attempting to take over the leadership, but not only has this never happened, but there’s also nothing keeping members from splintering off and forming a new group. They also argue that the exception that allows fraternities and sororities to discriminate based on sex is unfair, but of course this ignores the reality that Greek organizations are often intentionally single-sex because their members live together. Ultimately, these tactics represent a false victimization, an attempt by conservative groups to use campus resources to discriminate against other students. Thankfully, the state will not have the opportunity to compromise the university’s principles.

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Tuesday, den 1. May 2012

Every1Against1 , a new campaign to oppose North Carolina’s Amendment 1 connects the discriminatory measure — which would ban same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships in the state — to the nation’s history of racial segregation. “If Amendment One becomes law — in effect writing discrimination, prejudice and injustice into our state’s constitution — what’s next,” the group asks and offers these startling images :

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Monday, den 30. April 2012

Melissa Harris-Perry A diverse democracy requires us to be able to live near one another, to come together in public space and to engage across differences.

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Sunday, den 29. April 2012

From: Leslie Savan Leslie Savan After Obama slow-jammed the news on Jimmy Fallon, Republicans put out two ads reminding viewers that he’s too cool, too popular and too, hmm, what else?

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Thursday, den 26. April 2012

North Carolina Rep. Jim Crawford (D) North Carolina Rep. Jim Crawford (D) was one of 10 Democrats who voted in favor of placing Amendment One on the May 8 ballot, a measure that would ban not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions and domestic partnerships. He sponsored an almost identical amendment in 2009, and co-sponsored a similar amendment in 2010. Now, though, he says he opposes the measure because “it goes too far” and claims he never favored the version that passed: CRAWFORD: When this legislation was introduced, it did not have the contract problems that the bill has now, and I told Elaine the other day that I would vote against this bill because it does go too far. I think it’s only right that these folks [same-sex couples] can have a contract or an agreement so that they can look after each other in the hospitals, have insurance, and the other benefits. The legislation that has my name on it — it got changed considerably, and I would not support that legislation and I would definitely vote against it . Watch him change his position in response to a recent confrontation with a lesbian constituent: Given that Crawford voted for the amendment in its final form, he bears responsibility for all the changes that were made to it. His past support for banning same-sex marriage suggests his sudden flip-flop has little to do with an actual change of heart. Due to redistricting, Crawford faces a Democratic primary against fellow incumbent Rep. Winkie Wilkins (D), who voted against Amendment One. This is little more than political pandering from a well-documented opponent of LGBT equality.

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Thursday, den 19. January 2012

From: Ben Adler Ben Adler Faith, morality and “family values” are back now that the Republican primary has moved south. 

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Wednesday, den 28. December 2011

North Carolina is one of the few states in the country with public records of who has a permit to carry a concealed firearm, so it provides a rare window into how such permits are handled once their holder’s criminal record proves them unfit to carry a hidden gun. The results are not pretty : More than 2,400 permit holders were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, excluding traffic-related crimes, over the five-year period, The Times found when it compared databases of recent criminal court cases and licensees. While the figure represents a small percentage of those with permits, more than 200 were convicted of felonies, including at least 10 who committed murder or manslaughter. All but two of the killers used a gun . The review also raises concerns about how well government officials police the permit process. In about half of the felony convictions, the authorities failed to revoke or suspend the holder’s permit, including for cases of murder, rape and kidnapping . The apparent oversights are especially worrisome in North Carolina, one of about 20 states where anyone with a valid concealed handgun permit can buy firearms without the federally mandated criminal background check. (Under federal law, felons lose the right to own guns.) Violent criminals who were allowed to keep their concealed carry permits include Ricky Wills, who “terroriz[ed] his estranged wife and their daughter with a pair of guns and then sho[t] at their house while they, along with a sheriff’s deputy who had responded to a 911 call, were inside,” and Charles Dowdle, who “was convicted of multiple felonies in 2006 for threatening to kill his girlfriend and chasing her to her sister’s house, where he fired a shotgun round through a closed door .” Indeed, violent individuals convicted of domestic violence-related crimes are the most likely to be allowed to keep their concealed carry permits. Nearly two-thirds of individuals convicted of “assault on a female” in the state of North Carolina did not have their concealed carry permits suspended. The state’s failures to suspend these licenses appears to be a series of oversights, not a deliberate effort to place concealed firearms in the hands of violent criminals — indeed, Mr. Willis’ permit was revoked after New York Times reporters informed the state that he still had it. Nevertheless, these oversights could soon have consequences for the safety of Americans in all fifty states. The National Right To Carry Reciprocity Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives , would give holders of concealed carry permits from any one state the ability to carry a concealed weapon while than were visiting any other state — even if the state they were visiting banned concealed carry or would not allow them to obtain a carry permit. In other words, should this bill become law, it would mean that a violent felon from North Carolina could keep his permit solely because of an oversight, and then travel to any state he chooses with a concealed gun tucked under his jacket.

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Tuesday, den 6. December 2011

Matthew Hickson COLLEGE FINALIST: My generation must take on the task of building strong community economies and reestablishing collective wealth for all people. 

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Friday, den 9. September 2011

The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT) is upset at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee for making sure its suppliers have non-discrimination policies that are inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. Alleging the insurance agency was quietly joining the “culture wars” by showing a “cultural acceptance of homosexual conduct,” FACT’s President David Fowler suggested BlueCross BlueShield “trade in its traditional blue for a rainbow of colors.”

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