The headline is the title of Equality North Carolina‘s 20-page, reality-based response to the disinformation, ignorance and pathetic excuses by the bigots of the right-wing who wish to roll back the cultural clock and make the state’s tax-paying LGBTs permanent second-class citizens.

I’d like to be able to tell my friends who live outside of my great state that our leadership is working hard to bring jobs to NC and to boost the flagging economy for us here, but the Republicans, in charge of the general assembly for the first time since Reconstruction as a result of the 2010 midterms, are more focused on promoting a very specific religious point of view and embarrassing themselves in talking about sex acts in the name of “protecting marriage.” Recognition of church-state separation eludes these elected officials. NC Policy Watch (protect thy keyboards):

[The] Number Three Republican in the State House of Representatives, Speaker Pro Tem Dale Folwell, appeared with a troop of ultra-conservative ministers who proceeded to treat those in attendance (as well as those listening via the Internet) to a spirited lecture about Christianity, the Bible, and, perhaps most tellingly, sex.

Of God and biology

According to Folwell and his fellow speakers, homosexuality is forbidden by the Bible (which is to be interpreted literally as God’s word). While it’s not entirely clear as to which words Folwell and the ministers were referring (since informed experts have long cast great doubt about supposed Biblical attitudes toward homosexuality), the basic premise seems to be that “God” said homosexuality is wrong at some point or other and therefore, the state of North Carolina is commanded to proscribe same-sex marriage lest it run afoul of the Almighty.

Neither Folwell nor his cohorts offered an opinion as to whether the state was also risking trouble with God for its longstanding refusal to ban tattoos, the eating of shellfish, unapproved haircuts or sexual relations between men and menstruating women (as is spelled out in the book of Leviticus). Similarly, none of the speakers offered any opinion on the Bible’s inclusion of several heroic figures who were active polygamists and slaveholders.

Ultimately, however, it wasn’t religion that really seemed to move the speakers at Tuesday’s event; it was sex.

According to at least one of the speakers called to the podium by Folwell, an anti-LGBT marriage amendment is necessary in North Carolina because homosexual acts violate biological rules. According to a Rev. Johnny Hunter, sexual acts between two people of the same gender are “immoral and unnatural.” Hunter explained that only heterosexual acts allow a marriage to be properly “consummated.” At one point, Hunter held up two locks (apparently as a symbol for two women) and banged them together to show that they were not designed for each other. He said the same would be the case for two keys – apparently in reference to two men.

Got that? According to a speaker promoted by one of the top officers in the North Carolina House of Representatives, marriage isn’t marriage unless it can be consummated through heterosexual intercourse.

It’s pathetic. In a state where a majority of North Carolinians oppose a marriage amendment, here is the sad spectacle of elected officials making fools of themselves and a mockery of governance at a time where people need jobs — by proposing an amendment to the state’s constitution that will DRIVE AWAY JOBS. They have been salivating about this amendment for years; the Democrats in charge for seven years have bottled this hate amendment in committee where it has died. Jen Jones of Equality NC was at that unbelievable presser with Rev. Hunter:

I was there ladies and gentleman. And sat in the front row as Rep. Folwell invited, one, after another, anti-gay pastors to the podium to justify a constitutional amendment by calling LGBT people an “abomination” and with lines like:

“Nobody can call God a liar without facing the fire.”

“Every major empire that ever came to naught, was because homosexuality was pushed.”

“You cannot shake your fist in the face of God, and expect God to bless a nation.”

These messages paired well with House Majority Leader Paul Stam’s own press conference in which he posed the theory that the recognition of same-sex marriage is somehow part of a diabolical plot to undermine marriage, even as he trotted out the same-old distracting conservative  comparisons to incest and polygamy–all of which were arguments used against anti-miscegenation and none of which happened with the dawn of marriage equality–in this empire or others.

The Republican leadership plans to put up the marriage amendment for debate next week.

Read more about the Truth — and it has nothing to do with sex, pro-amendment forces — below the fold.

From Equality NC’s The Truth:

Truth: The Anti-LGBT Amendment is Bad for Business, Causing Real Harm to North Carolina’s Ability to Attract and Support Businesses in the State.

The anti-LGBT amendment harms private businesses by potentially denying them control over what benefits they offer their employees and the caliber of employees they can recruit.

• State regulatory agencies and courts could decide that the broadly-worded amendment renders private employers’ domestic partner benefits (such as health care benefits, long- and short-term disability benefits, life insurance benefits, and accidental death and dismemberment benefits), unenforceable in four different ways:

(1) Based on the language of Senate Bill 106, defining “marriage” as the only “legal domestic union” that can be “valid or recognized in this state,” the amendment could tie the hands of state regulatory agencies like the North Carolina Department of Insurance by preventing approval of any private contracts for domestic partner benefits for unmarried same- or opposite-sex couples.

(2) State-operated health care providers might refuse to implement private employers’ domestic partner benefits, concluding that the amendment prohibits them from recognizing the relationships of unmarried couples.

(3) If challenged, judges could find that they are forbidden from enforcing contracts providing private employees’ domestic partner benefits because the proposed amendment bars the state from recognizing any domestic legal union that is not a marriage.

(4) Also, courts might view the amendment as evidence that North Carolina has adopted a public policy position against recognizing unmarried couples, finding private employment agreements that guarantee domestic partner benefits are void on public policy grounds.

• Because of the broadly-worded amendment, private employers and insurers could similarly conclude that governing law prevents them from offering North Carolina employees domestic partner benefits, or in the alternative, private employers and insurers may find the burden and expense of contracting for domestic partner benefits in an uncertain or challenging legal environment unsustainable. In addition to the amendment’s potential impact on the ability of businesses to enforce domestic partner benefit contracts solely within the private sector, as University of Law professor Victor Flatt put it, “the larger economic impact may be based on the perception of what the policy means about the state of North Carolina as a place to live and do business. In this way, even a Constitutional amendment that apparently would only codify state law could have an effect on business as it changes the perception of the state.”

• Corporate America is a leader in its recognition of the value of gay and lesbian employees and has adopted inclusive workplace policies to attract and retain talent.

The anti-LGBT amendment puts these workplace policies at risk.

  • By the numbers: 89% of Fortune 500 companies prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, including Bank of America, Lowe’s, Duke Energy, BB&T, and Reynolds American (the five largest North Carolina-based public companies in that order).
  • Duke Energy cited domestic partner benefits as an important recruiting tool for all employees.
  • Over 50 major private companies in North Carolina offer samesex domestic partner benefits, including Bank of America, the 5th largest Fortune 500 Corporation in America.

I happen to work for a private institution, Duke University, that provides same-sex spousal equivalent benefits. It cannot recruit top talent without offering progressive benefits like this. The potential domino effect of retracting what protections do exist for LGBTs here who flock to the pro-equality economic base here is substantial.

Our Republican lawmakers and fellow professional bigots try to have it both ways — condemning LGBTs, yet saying the amendment won’t affect any business matters. They know it’s a lie. In fact, they have shown their hand:

This strategy of “omission” was exposed in recent online post by the North Carolina affiliate of the anti-LGBT group Concerned Women for America (CWA), whose legislative liaison, Mary Frances Forrester (wife of long-time anti-LGBT amendment primary sponsor, Sen. James Forrester), warned supporters of certain language to avoid “at all costs,” including the phrase, “ban same-sex marriage”, despite the act that banning same-sex marriage is precisely what HB777 would do, and SB 106 would go even further by also banning civil unions and domestic partnerships, including those between unmarried heterosexual couples. Mrs. Forrester wrote, “(Saying ‘ban same-sex marriage’) causes us to lose about ten percentage points in polls. Don’t use it. Say we’re against ‘redefining marriage’ or in favor of ‘marriage as the union of husband and wife’ NEVER ‘banning same-sex marriage.’”

Now that’s the truth. They know this is bad for business, and certainly not politically sound — to talk about the impact of the very thing they are trying to do — and ignore the cultural trends that they aren’t ready to accept. Well, I really don’t care what these people believe or think about me, as an out and proud lesbian who was born in this state, but I do have a problem watching lawmakers trying to undercut civil rights progress for any minority group based on fear and ignorance. Hell, even common sense. If they cannot understand the financial impact on this state, which has been a hub of science, technical and medical innovation for decades, they need to be bounced from office.

And trust me, some sad-sack closet doors will fly open and divorce-loving hypocrites will go down with the bigot ship.

Either they’re genuinely repulsed by the idea of sex between two people of the same gender and want to do everything they can to stop it , or they’re so worried about the feelings they really harbor about such matters that they feel compelled, Ted Haggard-like, to crusade against them.

How else to explain the passionate fascination and devotion to the issue amongst the anti-LGBT crowd? Who else would spend such a large part of their lives worrying and arguing about how two loving adults want to express that love – especially when what that loving twosome wants to do is contribute to societal wellbeing and stability?

It can’t really be religion. As we’ve seen, if it were, these advocates would have a much longer list of activities to crusade against.

UPDATE: More evidence, from the latest data from Public Policy Polling, that the ignorant NC GOP and general assembly leadership are way out of touch with reality.

“Voters say that if the election was today they would vote against the marriage amendment by a 55/30 margin. That 55% figure opposed to the amendment closely tracks the 54% of voters who support legally recognizing gay couples. The opposition to the marriage amendment holds true across party lines. Democrats (63/23), independents (52/35), and even Republicans (47/37) say they would vote against it at this time.

It’s not like North Carolina voters have become big fans of gay marriage all the sudden. They just don’t seem to think putting it in the state constitution is necessary, especially if that precludes giving gay couples more legal rights short of the ability to get ‘married.’

Pushing this issue is not doing much for the popularity of legislative Republicans. Their approval this month is 33% with 50% of voters disapproving of them, matching last month’s record low numbers for them.