The Path Forward


Today your NC Senate will decide whether to send a referendum enshrining bigotry into our Constitution to a May ballot. Yesterday your NC House voted in favor of doing so. Reps. Fisher and Keever were against it, and Rep. Tim Moffitt was with the majority.

These are the remarks I gave last night to hundreds of people who gathered in Pack Square to hold vigil on this process and to offer support to one another. These are a couple of dark days in North Carolina, when representatives choose to offer up the rights of their consituents to a popular vote.

Thank you all for coming together tonight to stand up for the principles upon which our nation was founded.

On the eve of historic steps in Raleigh that seek to dismiss and condemn the committed relationships of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered North Carolinians, we stand with a united voice for equality.

We stand in opposition to any referendum that will restrict the freedom to pursue happiness.

We stand in opposition to attempts on the part of our elected leaders to dismiss and disrespect the relationships of their constituents.

We stand together – straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered – married and single – Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Atheists – We say with one voice that making bigotry the law of North Carolina is wrong.

On so many levels, we have been moving closer to recognition of equal rights for all our citizens.

Asheville is moving to protect the rights of all our citizens by implementing Same Sex Domestic Partner Benefits, a domestic partner registry, a strengthened non-discrimination policy, an Anti-bullying law.

Here in Asheville, CarePartners, one of Buncombe County’s biggest employers has begun offering SSDPB. Over half of the Fortune 500 offer these benefits as well.

The anti-gay, marriage amendment threatens all of these advances.

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP has come out against the referendum, saying to our legislators, “We strongly urge you to reject the so-called same sex amendment and any other present or future proposals of constitutional amendments that would permanently deprive any person in our great state of his or her inalienable rights.”

Thanks to President Obama’s Executive Order, hospitals across the nation will recognize the visitation rights of same-sex couples. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been sent to the scrap heap of history.

In New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire marriage is respected in all its forms.

Those legislators promoting a referendum on discrimination are fighting against a turning tide.

They are ignoring the direction of history, and they are doing it with the full understanding of what it means for the safety and welfare of the people they are elected to protect and serve.

When a privileged majority votes on the rights of an oppressed minority – the results will always favor the oppressors.

Further – It is never the job of government to prefer one sectarian religious belief over another.

That being said – the path forward is broad and clear. It is peace, freedom, respect, and love.

It is in forgiving Senator Forrester when he calls Asheville a cesspool of sin that we rise above and drive home our overarching message of peace, freedom, respect, and love.

We will keep loving you, Senator Forrester. We will keep loving anyone who stands against equality.

We will fight every day armed with an eternal truth put forth in our nation’s founding document, that all people are created equal. We will fight armed with this truth and with the love that drives us all to be here tonight. We will fight to make America the beacon of freedom for all.

Let us send a message to all of North Carolina tonight. We will march forward with the knowledge that we are armed with truth, driven by justice, and our destination is freedom. Let those legislators hear you – call them, visit them, email them, write letters to the editors of every newspaper from Murphy to Manteo.

And tonight let them hear your voices. Let them hear you say:

(Call and response)








  1. Jim Jenkins says:

    Gordon, while I am not at a point in my personal evolution to join in your love of Senator Forrester, that was an excellent speech and I love you for giving it. I also love your wife in a platonic, non-threatening way. 😉

  2. TJ says:

    The speech was even more impressive given live last night.

    Can you say “LOVE!?”

    Well done 🙂

  3. Tom Sullivan says:

    Here are the ten Democrats who voted for the bill:

    The Democrats: William Brisson of Dublin, Jim Crawford of Oxford, Ellmer Floyd of Fayetteville, Ken Goodman of Rockingham, Charles Graham of Lumberton, Dewey Hill of Lake Waccamaw, Frank McGuirt of Wingate, Bill Owens of Elizabeth City, Garland Pierce of Wagram and Tim Spear of Creswell.

    The N&O reports: “… one Democrat, Rep. Jim Crawford of Oxford, said moving the vote to May was crucial to winning his support.”

  4. I was in the middle of a stirring Open Letter to the NC Democrats when it occurred to me….

    This isn’t a general election date, is it? This is a primary date. What’s Keever on about “consolidating power” if there aren’t any cross-party races to worry about?

    It kind of shoots in the foot the following piece of positively brilliant political rhetoric:

    Open Letter to the NC Democrats:

    Patsy Keever said, “…this referendum is largely designed to increase conservative turnout in the next election so the power of that wing can be further solidified”.


    We have a winner!

    The GOP knows this is a stupid measure, one that – even if it passes – won’t last long before it is challenged and brought down in Federal court.

    But its brief life and death will serve a greater purpose. It will, as Ms. Keever says, serve to bring out hordes of voters for the right wing.

    And, once the amendment fails, it will legitimize in the minds of the religious conservatives that they are fighting the good fight against the Sodomites and others is the cesspools of sin.

    Meanwhile, the officials elected while this maelstrom is going on will continue to wreak havoc and force their perverse economic agenda (which is the far more odious and far reaching one).

    The absolute best bet the left wing in NC has is to let this referendum move forward now, not say another word about it and campaign to defeat GOP candidates. The referendum will become an amendment and die on its own in court without your help.

    Don’t let them fool you into doing their job for them. If you fight this amendment loudly, come May you will lose most of the seats you are trying to keep and all the ones you are trying to gain.

    Send your candidates out and have them say nothing about this amendment. Tell them to say they believe the legislature has acted in accordance with the wishes of the people and it is up to the people and to the courts to decide the legitimacy of the measure.

    Give them, as the saying goes, enough rope.

    And don’t get caught up in it yourselves.

  5. Bishop Andrew Gentry says:

    The measure passed the Senate to no one’s surprise. It will not deter me as a bishop in the Christian faith in any way from witnessing and blessing marriages regardless of the gender of the persons seeking such.
    I was pleased to see the clergy who signed a statement in support of marriage equality even though some that I knew ten years ago, and still do, would have ran like a scalded dog in those days from this entire issue. Better late than never I suppose. I remember vividly one ceremony in which two doctors had tried to get the local Episcopal Cathedral, well it wasn’t a cathedral then, to allow them to use said church for their wedding and being harshly denied this the Episcopal minister who originally was to do the service called me and asked if I would stand in. I said of course and the Unitarians graciously offered and wavered the fee for the use of their sanctuary and we had a beautiful wedding. It was good to see the Cathedral has changed its mind on this issue!
    Marriage is above all else a profoundly Constitutional Right and one day all the Republican heathens and hypocrites will not be able to stop it from being made so. This is a minor set back.

  6. trifecta says:

    These people are relics from the past destined to wind up on the ash heaps of history. The genie is out of the bottle. It can never be put back. The one thing that has changed is the experience of the young. Before, those who were LGBQT were hidden from view in society. Those who are under 25 grew up with positive out and open role models. Now that DADT is repealed, there will be openly gay and lesbian heroes and heroines who sacrifice their lives for their country.

    It’s just a matter of time. Those who fear the light will see their’s flicker away. It just seems to take a damn long time to allow the dinosaurs to have their moment before we evolve past them.

  7. Tom Buckner says:

    Two rights don’t make a wrong.
    Two right-wingers don’t make a right.

  8. Ziggy says:

    The moving of this bill to the primary is interesting to me. If the Republican Presidential primary is close going into NC this bill might cause a lot of havoc for some Republican candidates (ala Romney).

    But the big problem to defeating this bill is turning out the vote since Obama will not have any big challenger, so we’ll definitely need to get folks to the polls. So pardon my ignorance, but what 2012 elections will be up for Dems in the primary?

  9. Holly says:


    I’m so proud of you, my dear friend. You voice to so many of our thoughts in a brave, selfless way. Thank you!

  10. Andrew Dahm says:

    Republican strategy lately = it’s all about the statehouse.

  11. TJ says:

    @ Andrew: what?! You don’t believe them!? You don’t these good folks would lie, do you?? I mean, Jesus wouldn’t…and they’re good Christians, aren’t they?? Aren’t they Right?

    I wonder what party Jesus would have belonged to? Oh – he wouldn’t. He knew politics and religion don’t mix.

  12. Andrew Dahm says:

    Merely meaning to say that if they’re wanting to drive turnout, it’s probably more closely related to Raleigh than DC.

  13. TJ says:

    Sure. That’s where they feel like the big shots. I hope people can stay focused on the big picture and not trip over the steps along the way.

  14. TJ says:

    I was thinking (always a dangerous thing to have thinking people) about the speeches given. I thought they were all good, but would add a caveat to one

    I would have said I cannot apologize on behalf of anyone or any group I might be a part of, even. A good book about that is Simon Wiesenthal’s “The Sunflower: On The Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness.”

    I cannot do this on behalf of anyone, as much as I might wish to. However, I CAN(and DO) do everything I can to make it clear I will take no part in tolerating or promoting any kind of bigotry on ANY level toward ANYONE. I can show my kids -through such things as vigils- that it is NEVER okay to tolerate bigotry. I can support efforts to show our “leaders” that I do not support them if they support such attitudes.

    In effect, I will do anything and everything in my power to be clear to myself, my children and everyone else,’that I will not be party to continuing such egregious behavior and attitude.

    I AM sorry that anyone has been hurt by anyone I might associate with, not on their behalf-rather, my own-for not standing up publicly before and being a voice of intolerance of intolerance. In the words of my ancestors after the Holocaust, “Never again!”

    We would not openly tolerate a genocide, so let’s not tolerate a genocide, even in just the attitude that allows such things to exist.