UPDATE: The foul amendment clears the House, 75-42.  Our sole out gay lawmaker Brandon Marcus, says it all:

“LGBT community: I apologize for the general assembly” – Rep. Brandon #ncga

 

Via Matt Comer @ QNotes;

Debate on the House floor started shortly after 2:30 p.m. on MOnday. The majority of speakers throughout debate were Democrats opposed to the measure.

One of the strongest speeches against the measure came from Forsyth County’s Larry Womble.

“This proposed piece of legislation is clearly an example of discrimination,” Womble said. “It is discrimination in its highest form…We’ve been so silent on some of the atrocities committed in this state against other people, human beings; the only difference is it might be the texture of their hair, the pigmentation of their skin or the color of their eyes. We are again today discriminating against people who are citizens. They are not criminals. They’ve not broken any laws. I assume they register and vote. They go to school. They work. They want to ascribe to the best that this society can offer…North Carolina is bigger than this. North Carolina is better than this. We need to rise to the occasion as we have done before when there’s been issues that are not right and not fair.”

Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) also gave a moving, though a short, statement against the amendment. She teared up near the end of her speech while talking about her lesbian sister, her partner and four-year-old child.

Asheville’s Susan Fischer warned her colleagues that history would judge them harshly. “In the not too distant future we will be apologizing yet again for more unfair and discriminatory practices,” she said, citing the state’s past history of civil rights abuses.

 

Take a look at the revised version the NC House marriage amendment (right, courtesy of Mark Binker of the Greensboro News & Record, who is doing great reporting on today’s debate, along with Matt Comer of QNotes and Laura Leslie of WRAL).

The Republican leadership in the House — Thom Tillis and Paul “Skip” Stam have decided that it cannot pass this amendment on its own merits; they have done everything possible to stifle transparency and open debate. Mark Binker:

  • 1:20 p.m. House Rules is ready to go. Democratic lawmakers object to the process, saying they’ve had scant notice of the meeting and complaining the proposed amendment is vaguely written. House Rules Committee Chairman Tim Moore, a Kings Mountain Republican, announces there will be no public comment allowed.
  • 2:05 p.m. House Rules passes the amendment on a voice vote.
  • 2:30 p.m. Bells ring in the General Assembly calling House members back to a full floor session. Lawmakers are expected to debate and pass the bill this afternoon. The exact timeline is unclear after that, since a lone objection could force the House to hold a second vote.

I have to post this Tweet of the day: It’s Porno Pete trying to be witty – #FAIL:

@PeterLaBarbera: @pamspaulding @thomtillis @PaulSkipStam #ncga lol Pam, if #gays are so creative, why do U rely on the most banal putdowns to smear ur foes?” Does he really want me to inform Tillis and Stam about The Peter’s embarrassing history of repeat undercover “research” at leather bars?

Our PHB archive is loaded with tasty tidbits about Peter LaBarbera.

It might be more instructive for Tillis and Stam to see what they will destroy with a business killing hate amendment:

North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park: An Investment in the Future from John Wilson on Vimeo.

In the mid-1950s, farming, textiles, tobacco and furniture—all low-wage, low-skill enterprises—were the backbone of North Carolina’s stagnant economy. Next to last nationally in per capita income, the state had lost the ability to employ many of its own college graduates, who were leaving by the thousands for opportunity in other parts of the country.

A group of visionary Tar Heels, including Greensboro construction company owner Romeo Guest, Governor Luther Hodges and Wachovia Bank Chairman Archie Davis, realized that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State College in Raleigh, and Duke University in Durham were the drawing cards the state needed to attract modern industry.

Located on what was worn-out farmland described by locals as “nothing but scrub pine and possums,” Research Triangle Park is today the largest and most successful research park in the world. North Carolina’s economy now includes high-tech research and industry, and per capita income has risen dramatically.

“North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park: An Investment in the Future” examines the unique partnership between universities, industry and government that has transformed the entire state. Written, directed and produced by John Wilson and narrated by Goldsboro native Carl Kasell of National Public Radio, the documentary was the culmination of the Park’s 40th-anniversary observance. The film features Nobel Prize winner Gertrude Elion, former UNC president Bill Friday, former N.C. governor Jim Hunt, and many others.

The pro-equality chair of the NC Dem Party, David Parker, had this to say about the chaotic, non-transparent damaging effort by the Republicans to push this through without any scrutiny or sense of priorities in this state. Read his piece below the fold.

Republican Priorities are Seriously Out of Whack

For folks whose life purpose is to make gay marriage illegal in North Carolina, you’re too late — it is already illegal under North Carolina criminal law.

So why are the Republicans spending $50,000 a day pushing an amendment to the state constitution to ban gay marriage? Why not make driving drunk, or perpetrating financial fraud, or cheating on your taxes unconstitutional?

Because what the Republicans really want is to distract people from the train wreck that is their economic agenda.

The reality is that this amendment will not put one person back to work, it will not help one small business keep its doors open and it will not assist one single citizen now trying to recover from the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Irene.

In fact, this amendment will stifle job creation and obstruct our economic recovery—don’t take it from me, take it from some of the top companies in America.

Eighty-nine percent (291) of Fortune 500 companies prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. This includes Bank of America, Lowe’s, Duke Energy, BB&T, and Reynolds American (the five largest North Carolina-based public companies).

More than 50 major private companies in North Carolina offer same sex domestic partner benefits, including Bank of America, the fifth-largest Fortune 500 Company in America, and Food Lion.

Also, more than 100 prominent members of the business community in North Carolina have already signed a petition opposing the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage in our state.

American businesses have become leaders in the recognition of same-sex couples and many companies have adopted inclusive workplace policies to attract and retain talented workers. An anti-gay referendum in North Carolina would be out of step with Fortune 500 companies and out of touch with members of the next generation of entrepreneurial, innovative professionals.

This distracting and discriminatory amendment harms our state’s economy by sending a message that our state doesn’t welcome the diverse workforce that modern employers need to compete in a global economy. This perception alone can harm business recruitment efforts.

In addition to the economic consequences that accompany this amendment, it is simply un-American to single out any group of law-abiding citizens to harass and torment. Every time we select a set of folks to exclude from America’s dream of a better life, the results are detrimental to our nation.

These times are hard enough without making any group of folks miserable. Voters give politicians power to use to make our lives better, not to carry personal vendettas and grudges based on some twisted idea of who is better than who.

North Carolinians aren’t as stupid as Thom Tillis, Pat McCrory, Phil Berger and their allies think we are — we know a skunk by it’s smell no matter what color they paint the stripe or what name they call it.

And this just smells bad. Real bad.

Sincerely,

David Parker Chairman, North Carolina Democratic Party