What a day! A nice rally on Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh against the bills that would enshrine bigotry into the NC Constitution in front of the North Carolina General Assembly turned into kick-ass direct action (that blew up in their faces afterwards). First, I’ll give you the straight-up press release from GetEqual, and then give you my account.
Following GetEQUAL NC’s — a direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization; “Rally in Raleigh” today — an event to protest the anti-gay Senate Bill 106 — local gay activists were arrested for disrupting the legislative session in progress when they demanded full legal recognition for LGBT North Carolinians. Activists included Angel Chandler of GetEQUAL NC, the North Carolina chapter of the national organization GetEQUAL, Chandler’s partner, Mary Counce; and Asheville City councilman and 2008 U.S. Senate candidate James Neal. Shortly after entering the chamber, the activists began chanting “Liberty and Justice for All in North Carolina.” The activists were immediately taken into custody by police and are currently being booked and charged with “disorderly conduct and trespassing”.
I was there to capture the whole fracas on video. Jim had announced during his speech at the rally that he was going to go into the legislative chamber, so a group of us followed him in and up to lobby outside of the chamber. And that’s where the video starts.
Around 2:20 into it, while Jim and the GetEQUAL activists are being arrested, that’s when the security threatened to arrest me and a couple of other people for simply being present to videotape/photograph the event.
Is this how Republican House Speaker Thom Tillisand company run the people’s legislature? No wonder NC is going to hell in a handbasket under GOP rule for the first time since Reconstruction. It’s an embarrassment. BTW, there’s more about the hijinks of the police that occurred earlier during the rally. That’s below the fold.
After being told to leave the third floor by Mr. Jackboots, while waiting for the elevator I ran into Laura Leslie, the Capitol Bureau Chief for WRAL (see its coverage), who works the beat at the legislature and filled her in on the details of the protest since she arrived just as things were breaking up.
Jim Neal texted me (“I’m OUT!”) when he was released from police custody about 4 hours later (Angel and Mary were also cut loose just after Jim). His court date is July 11.
Speaking with him a bit later he has no regrets and joked that he doubted some of his “friends in the general assembly” will be asking him for an endorsement or to do fundraising for them any time soon after his uninvited appearance today. Ha. He also mentioned that it was an amazing experience to see so many young people at the rally who are committed to fighting this amendment, and he wanted to set the bar to let them know he’s ready to work with them side by side.
Updates on the condition, charges, and penalties assessed to the three activists will be available via GetEQUAL’s social networks and via GetEQUAL NC’s website, www.getequalnc.org.
Coverage of earlier rally is below the fold, including photos and video of a pathetic counterprotest by some fundies.GetEQUAL:
Earlier in the afternoon, hundreds of North Carolinians attended the “Rally in Raleigh” organized by GetEQUAL NC and local activist Jonathan Green. The rally focused on SB106, the discriminatory bill that would put an amendment on the 2012 ballot that would prevent private businesses and municipalities in NC from offering domestic partnership insurance benefits, and invalidate Domestic Partnership Registries in the three cities in NC that offer them (Chapel Hill, Asheville and Carrboro). The authors of the bill included North Carolina State Senators James Forrester, Jerry W. Tillman, and Dan Soucek.
“Rally in Raleigh” Speakers included:
• Cecil Bothwell, Asheville City Councilman, author, & US Congressional Candidate for NC 11th District 2012
• Janet Owen, Co-Chair Interfaith Voice of Winston-Salem
• Chelsea Sayre, GetEQUAL NC
• James Neal, Businessman and openly gay 2008 Democratic primary candidate for U.S. Senate
• Pam Spaulding, Pam’s House Blend
• Jonathan Green, Sexuality And Gender Alliance
• Angel Chandler, GetEQUAL NC
GetEQUAL’s Executive Director, Robin McGehee, responded to the arrests, “GetEQUAL issued a call to the President today to stand up for full LGBT equality, and we’re proud to support LGBT North Carolinians in issuing the same call to their state elected officials. As North Carolina gears up to host the Democratic National Convention next year, we hope that the state will be moving toward fully recognizing the dignity and equality of LGBT North Carolinians, rather than trying to further enshrine discrimination in the state constitution. North Carolina residents deserve better than the legalized discrimination that this bill promises.”
Former minister and author of the book Adam’s Gift, Jimmy Creech, spoke eloquently about religion-based bigotry used by politicians in the NC General Assembly to justify passing a marriage amendment.
I spoke as well (I don’t know if anyone taped my remarks), and while I was speaking, some fundies across the mall started bleating god knows what with a bullhorn. The police were eventually called to make them stop that, but they continued shouting without the bullhorn, which was fine. I yelled “I love you too” to them.
After I finished up, I went over to take some photos of these young troubled men. The hard-headedness of these fundies is sad. Quoting scripture, not understanding the separation of church and state. God’s law superceding civil law, you name it, this guy covers it. Oh yes, and pedophilia and bestiality was first up on the menu of his diatribe.
We did agree on one thing – a plainclothes cop trying to tell me he didn’t want me to ask questions of the young man in a civil manner, and that he didn’t like the content of my question – which was to ask “how my marriage was hurting him.” It is none of this cops’s business. We were both on public ground in the appropriate places (I was on the grass where the permit for the rally covered, he was on the sidewalk). Apparently this officer has little regard for our first amendment rights.
Photos from the rally. This album is also on Facebook.