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North Carolina lawmakers pass anti-transgender bills

It’s expected that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will veto anti-trans bills but Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers

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North Carolina Capitol building in Raleigh. (Photo Credit: State of North Carolina)

By Isabelle Kravis | RALEIGH, N.C. – In the final days of its legislative session, the Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly advanced anti-transgender bills that would ban gender-affirming care for minors at public health facilities and trans participation in school sports.

There are two bills — one in the House of Representatives and one in the state Senate — that would ban gender-affirming care for minors. 

Senate Bill 631 would make it illegal for a public health care facility, such as UNC Health — one of the largest healthcare systems in the state — to provide gender-affirming care to those under 18 years old. The bill would also limit use of state funds for gender-affirming care. 

House Bill 808 would ban all health providers, public or private, in North Carolina from providing gender-affirming care to minors.

“My access to gender-affirming care saved my life,” 15-year-old Rowan Bilodeau testified to legislators. “I want others to have that same opportunity. I’m tired of seeing my brothers and sisters die because they are being denied their rights.”

Bilodeau, who has been undergoing gender-affirming transition care with the support of his parents, was the only member of the public allowed to speak against HB 808.

SB 631 passed both the House and the Senate and is currently back in the Senate for concurrence. HB 808 passed the House and is now being reviewed in Senate committees.

The House has also introduced a bill to limit trans participation in school sports. House Bill 574 would restrict trans women from playing women’s sports at the middle school, high school and college levels.

“At the end of the day, we are going to put children at risk,” Democrat Sydney Batch said during a Senate meeting. “Children are going to kill themselves. They already are. And by passing this bill, we’re going to see a higher rate … I don’t think that putting a target on their backs and putting them in a position where they could lose their lives is worth what this bill is trying to do.”

While it’s expected that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will veto anti-trans bills that come to his desk, Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers.

Cooper had previously signed into law the repeal of House Bill 2, known as North Carolina’s “bathroom bill.” HB2 mandated that trans people use bathrooms that match the sex printed on their birth certificate. The bill led to multiple boycotts and economic losses for the state, which some estimates put into billions of dollars.

The Human Rights Campaign has unequivocally condemned the passage of SB 631.

“SB 631 is a discriminatory effort by extremist politicians in North Carolina to attack transgender people, particularly youth and the people who support them,” HRC Senior Director for Legal Policy Cathryn Oakley said in a press release. “As these legislators know, gender-affirming care is supported by every single credible medical organization in the United States. It is best practice care that is always delivered in an age appropriate manner in consultation with parents, doctors, and medical experts.” 

HRC has declared 2023 to be the “worst year on record” for anti-LGBTQ legislation, with more than 525 anti-LGBTQ bills being introduced in state legislatures across the country. According to the HRC, more than 220 of these bills specifically target the rights of trans people, the “highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.”

A federal judge on June 20 stuck down Arkansas’ ban on gender-affirming care for minors, the first of its kind in the nation.

“Rather than protecting children or safeguarding medical ethics, the evidence showed that the prohibited medical care improves the mental health and well-being of patients and that, by prohibiting it, the State undermined the interests it claims to be advancing,” U.S. District James Moody, Jr., wrote in the ruling. 

North Carolina Democrats raised the idea of a ban in the state being subject to similar litigation.

“If we pass this law, it’s going to cause more litigation. We have an indication from federal courts that this is unconstitutional,” Democrat Marcia Morey said. “We are once again interfering in a family and child’s medical decisions.”

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Isabelle Kravis is a senior at American University in Washington, D.C. double majoring in Journalism and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is the managing copy editor at The Eagle, AU’s student newspaper, where she oversees the editing and fact-checking process for all of the paper’s publications.

This summer she is a D.C. reporting fellow at the Washington Blade where she covers D.C.’s LGBTQ+ community and an intern for McClatchy’s publishing center where she edits print stories for over 25 local papers across the country. She is passionate about telling the stories of women and the LGBTQ+ community, and likes to center her reporting work on solutions journalism and community activism. When not in class or working on a story, she can be found crocheting or at a local book store.

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North Carolina

NC GOP lawmakers override Governor’s vetoes of anti-trans bills

On Monday, August 21, advocates will come together for a Community Town Hall to discuss the impact of HB808, HB574, and SB49

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Governor Roy Cooper hosted a Pride Month celebration at the NC Executive Mansion this past June. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor NC)

By Isabelle Kravis | RALEIGH, N.C. – The North Carolina General Assembly overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes of three anti-transgender bills in a late session Wednesday.

Cooper vetoed House Bill 574, House Bill 808 and Senate Bill 49 on July 5, stating in a press release the measures were “a triple threat of political culture wars using government to invade the rights and responsibilities of parents and doctors, hurting vulnerable children and damaging our state’s reputation and economy … .”

HB 574 bans trans girls and women from playing on girls and women’s middle school, high school and college sports teams. The House of Representatives overrode the veto by a 74-45 margin. The Senate followed suit. 

“Since 2019, there have been only two transgender girls playing sports in the state of North Carolina … these girls are certainly not trying to destroy women’s sports. These girls are just trying to belong,” state Sen. Julie Mayfield (D-49) said.

HB 808 bans all health providers, public or private, in the state from providing gender-affirming care to minors. House lawmakers voted 73-46 to override the governor’s veto. The Senate followed suit by a 27-18 vote margin.

“This may be the most heartbreaking bill in a heartbreaking session,” state Sen. Lisa Grafstein (D-13) said. “This bill tells parents how to raise their kids … There have been so many families who have pleaded with us, testified before us, about this bill … The implication is somehow 30 people in this room know better than the families and children who know the pain we’re putting them through …”

SB 49 requires public school staff to tell parents and guardians if a student asks to use a new name or set of pronouns. The Senate overrode the veto by a 27-18 vote margin, followed by a 72-47 House vote. Some teachers are already planning to protest and act against the bill, according to the Associated Press.

“The legislature finally comes back to pass legislation that discriminates … Yet they still won’t pass a budget when teachers, school bus drivers and Medicaid Expansion for thousands of working people getting kicked off their health plans every week are desperately needed,” Cooper said in a press release prior to votes. “These are the wrong priorities, especially when they should be working nights and weekends if necessary to get a budget passed by the end of the month.”

“We need to call this what it is: An all-out attack on queer and transgender youth in North Carolina. The NCGA is going out of its way to blatantly enact the far-Right’s anti-LGBTQ wish list, causing harm and discrimination to young people in every area of life, from school to the doctor’s office to the athletic fields. You would have thought that the NCGA would have learned its lesson from HB2 and the havoc it caused for our state and our communities.”

Allison Scott, Director of Impact & Innovation at the Campaign for Southern Equality, said: 

“We know this is a very difficult time for transgender youth and their families, and for the LGBTQ+ community and our supporters across North Carolina. I also know that no law can stop the transgender community from charting our paths to thriving and living authentically – our community will make sure of that. Right now, help is available: Please reach out to our Southern Trans Youth Emergency Project to better understand your options and how you can continue to access gender-affirming care in neighboring states. We are sending solidarity and love during this relentless time.” 

On Monday, August 21, advocates will come together for a Community Town Hall to discuss the impact of HB808, HB574, and SB49. There, we will share resources that trans youth and their families can access, discuss how to prepare for the implementation of these cruel anti-LGBTQ+ laws, and answer questions.

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Isabelle Kravis is a senior at American University in Washington, D.C. double majoring in Journalism and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is the managing copy editor at The Eagle, AU’s student newspaper, where she oversees the editing and fact-checking process for all of the paper’s publications.

This summer she is a D.C. reporting fellow at the Washington Blade where she covers D.C.’s LGBTQ+ community and an intern for McClatchy’s publishing center where she edits print stories for over 25 local papers across the country. She is passionate about telling the stories of women and the LGBTQ+ community, and likes to center her reporting work on solutions journalism and community activism. When not in class or working on a story, she can be found crocheting or at a local book store.

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North Carolina school board censures anti-LGBTQ+ member

“We acknowledge the dignity and worth of all students and employees, and we find all forms of discrimination and harassment reprehensible”

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Mount Airy City Schools buses gathering to pick-up students after a school day to deliver them home. (Photo Credit: Mount Airy City Schools)

MOUNT AIRY, NC. –  The Mount Airy City Schools Board of Education, in this city located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, censured one of its members earlier this month for his anti-LGBTQ+ Facebook post, which the self-proclaimed “Christian” defended as ‘Bible-based.’

Board member Randy Moore on his personal Facebook Page stated that while “as a Christian” he loves those in the LGBTQ+ community he added “but not their doings.” Moore wrote noting that his referencing homosexual behaviors is based on scriptural references from the Christian bible. The school board member added that the position he took on his social media posting was “not personal.”

He also used an image in the post that has been spread among far-right anti-LGBTQ+ groups and individuals depicting a figure in red, white, and blue colors kicking at the midsection of another figure with rainbow-colors which typically symbolize the LGBTQ+ community.

“Even around the throne of God, there is pictured a majestic rainbow — used to communicate the glory of God,” he posted referencing Christian biblical chapter Revelation.

“One day, the rainbow will no longer be misused by sinners to boast in their sin,” he added. “The rainbow will be reserved for the glory of God alone when Christ returns and makes all things new.”

Under was the captioning reading “It’s finally July” which has been construed to mean celebrating the end of LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June which the far-right and so-called family conservatives are vehemently opposed to.

From Facebook page of Randy Moore.

“We acknowledge the dignity and worth of all students and employees, and we find all forms of discrimination and harassment reprehensible”

On July 10, the Mount Airy City Schools Board of Education responded in a statement:

The Mount Airy City Schools Board of Education disavows and disapproves of Mr. Randy Moore’s recent social media posts.

“As a Board, we want to remind the school community one member does not act on behalf of the whole. Our legal duty is to take action together, as a Board. Hopefully, this brings some measure of reassurance to members of our community who are concerned that one member’s biases might impact school district policies and procedures. This is simply not the case.

As a Board, we are committed to creating safe, orderly, caring, and inviting schools – from the boardroom to the classroom, and everywhere in between. We acknowledge the dignity and worth of all students and employees, and we find all forms of discrimination and harassment reprehensible.

As elected officials who serve a public body we encourage free expression of opinion among our members, but we ask for civility and integrity in all public discourse. Board members must model the behavior we expect of students and employees. We believe as a Board that Member Randy Moore fell short of clearly-articulated expectations for members of the City Schools Board of Education, which is why we took the extraordinary step of a public censure.”

Mount Airy, Andy Griffith’s hometown and the inspiration for the setting of The Andy Griffith Show’s Mayberry,  had 23.8% of the people voted Democrat in the last presidential election, while 75.2% voted for the Republican Party supporting former President Trump. The area however tends to take a live and let live credo and Moore’s anti-LGBTQ+ post offended that tenet said a local official, who asked not to be named, to the Blade Sunday.

Randy Moore, Mount Airy District A
(Photo Credit: Mt. Airy Schools Board of Education

Moore – a U.S. Army veteran appointed to the board in January 2021 – however doubled down on the position he took. The local paper, the Mount Airy News, reported that Moore says he considers his role as an official of a public body to be respectful — “yet still not be afraid to use rightful speech.”

Moore also told the paper [that] those who support LGBTQ activities sometimes are quite forceful in stating their beliefs.

“Why can’t others?” he said of the Christian community. “They just don’t speak up,” despite being in what Moore considers the majority, which should be able to express itself openly without fear of repercussions.

He believes his overall intentions largely been misconstrued. “If anyone, especially this (school) board or superintendent who call themselves Christian thinks I don’t care or thinks I have a personal negative agenda, they have misunderstood.”

Since the censure was reported in news coverage Moore says he has received positive comments from local citizens for his stance.

“I am immeasurably grateful for the unwavering support against what some are terming ‘minority over silent majority,’” he acknowledged, “to wake up against woke.”

Additional reporting from Tom Joyce, The Mount Airy News

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed three anti-LGBTQ bills

The governor’s vetoes will likely be overridden, adding North Carolina to the list of 20 states that have enacted similar anti-LGBTQ laws

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

By Isabelle Kravis | RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed three anti-LGBTQ bills on Wednesday. 

The measures would ban gender-affirming care for minors, restrict transgender participation in school sports and limit the ways sexuality and gender are discussed in public schools.

While the vetoes are a roadblock for anti-LGBTQ lawmakers in the state, they have little power as the state’s House and Senate hold veto-proof Republican majorities

Cooper, a Democrat, denounced all three bills in a press release as “a triple threat of political culture wars using government to invade the rights and responsibilities of parents and doctors, hurting vulnerable children and damaging our state’s reputation and economy … ”

House Bill 574, titled the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” would ban trans girls and women from playing on girls and women’s middle school, high school and college sports teams. 

“We don’t need politicians inflaming their political culture wars by making broad, uninformed decisions about an extremely small number of vulnerable children that are already handled by a robust system that relies on parents, schools and sports organizations,” Cooper said of the bill. “Republican governors in other states have vetoed similar bills because they hurt their states’ reputation and economy and because they are neither fair nor needed.”

Republican governors — Eric Holcomb of Indiana, Spencer Cox of Utah and Doug Burgum of North Dakota — have previously vetoed bills that would ban trans people from participating in team sports that align with their gender.

Senate Bill 49, or the “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” would require public school staff to tell parents if a student asks to use a different name or set of pronouns. Trans and nonbinary students testified to the General Assembly that the bill made them fear of forced outing to unaccepting parents, leading to an exception which would allow schools to withhold information if there is reason to believe it would lead to abuse. The bill would also ban teaching about gender identity and sexuality in kindergarten through fourth grade, with exceptions for student-initiated questions. 

“Parents are the most essential educators for their children and their involvement must be encouraged, but this bill will scare teachers into silence by injecting fear and uncertainty into classrooms,” Cooper said. “This ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill also hampers the important and sometimes lifesaving role of educators as trusted advisers when students have nowhere else to turn. The rights of parents are well established in state law, so instead of burdening schools with their political culture wars, legislators should help them with better teacher pay and more investments in students.”

Some teachers are already planning to protest and act against the bill, according to the Associated Press.

House Bill 808 would ban all health providers, public or private, in North Carolina from providing gender-affirming care to minors. There is currently a Senate bill in committee review that would ban only public health care providers from providing gender-affirming care to minors.

“A doctor’s office is no place for politicians, and North Carolina should continue to let parents and medical professionals make decisions about the best way to offer gender care for their children,” Cooper said. “Ordering doctors to stop following approved medical protocols sets a troubling precedent and is dangerous for vulnerable youth and their mental health. The government should not make itself both the parent and the doctor.”

A federal judge on June 20 struck down Arkansas’ ban on gender-affirming care for minors, which Democrats in North Carolina warned could also happen with HB 808.

Initial vote counts indicate that the governor’s vetoes will likely be overridden, which would add North Carolina to the list of 20 states that have enacted similar anti-LGBTQ laws.

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Isabelle Kravis is a senior at American University in Washington, D.C. double majoring in Journalism and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is the managing copy editor at The Eagle, AU’s student newspaper, where she oversees the editing and fact-checking process for all of the paper’s publications.

This summer she is a D.C. reporting fellow at the Washington Blade where she covers D.C.’s LGBTQ+ community and an intern for McClatchy’s publishing center where she edits print stories for over 25 local papers across the country. She is passionate about telling the stories of women and the LGBTQ+ community, and likes to center her reporting work on solutions journalism and community activism. When not in class or working on a story, she can be found crocheting or at a local book store.

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NC House Republicans pass gender-affirming healthcare ban

North Carolina House Passes HB808, Attacking Access to Healthcare for Transgender Youth and Defying Recommendations of Medical Experts

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North Carolina State Capitol Building (Photo Credit: State of North Carolina)

RALEIGH – The North Carolina House approved House Bill 808 on Wednesday, a measure that bans gender-affirming healthcare for transgender people under the age of 18. The measure passed in a 74-44 veto-proof vote, with all Republicans in support and two Democrats — Reps. Garland Pierce y and Michael Wray.

The bill, originally filed as an outright ban on all gender-affirming care (including hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and surgery), was substituted in committee yesterday for a ban limited to surgical procedures. The bill follows a dangerous national trend of banning gender affirming health care for transgender youth, defying best practices and recommendations of medical experts.

On the House floor today, an amendment was adopted that prohibits state funding for all transgender-related health procedures for people under 18 – although the language of the bill does not define the term “procedure.” This bill has implications for trans young people whose families are insured by Medicaid or through the NC state employee healthcare plan.

This amendment was passed despite a June 2022 federal court ruling in Kadel v. Folwell finding that North Carolina’s state health plan’s categorical exclusion of transgender-related healthcare is unlawful. The lawsuit was brought by Lambda Legal and Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Having made the crossover deadline, the bill now advances to the State Senate. Several other bills targeting LGBTQ+ youth, and specifically transgender young people, have also cleared the crossover deadline and will continue being considered this session.

Allison Scott, Director of Impact & Innovation at the Campaign for Southern Equality, released a statement saying:

“Let me be as clear as possible: this bill is wrong, it is cruel and it is unconstitutional. We will fight this bill with every tool and resource we have. Transgender youth deserve support, love, and access to life-affirming medical care. Medical decisions are private matters for families and trusted doctors – not for politicians who are intruding on our private lives to score political points. To transgender youth reading the news of this political attack, please know that you are loved, you are supported, and an entire community is here to help you access the care and support you need to thrive.”

“Gender-affirming care bans and abortion bans cut off people’ s access to essential healthcare and endanger lives,” Kendra R. Johnson, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina said. “Lawmakers are circumventing democratic processes to fast-track these bans, ignoring the bold opposition expressed by the public and the medical community. Politicians need to stay out of private healthcare decisions and stop trying to enact control over other people’s bodies.”

Earlier this week 630+ medical providers across the state submitted an open letter condemning legislation like HB808 and opposing government overreach in healthcare. They wrote: “As North Carolina health care professionals deeply committed to protecting our patients and preserving the trusting and informed relationship between patient and provider, we adamantly oppose any bans or restrictions on access to and provision of life-saving, gender-affirming care.”

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North Carolina Republicans move to criminalize drag shows

Also on Tuesday, a state Senate committee advanced a bill to ban transgender girls from playing girls sports in middle and high school

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North Carolina's capitol building in Raleigh. (Photo Credit: State of North Carolina government)

RALEIGH – A proposed bill introduced in North Carolina’s House of Representatives Tuesday would criminalise drag shows that in some cases would be making performances a felony.

Raleigh’s NBC affiliate KRAL reported that House Bill 673 would lump at least some drag performances — what the bill calls “male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest” — in with strippers and other adult entertainers in state law.

In addition to the proposed drag show ban, KRAL reported that Republican lawmakers in the legislature have been advancing a number of other bills that critics on the left criticize as anti-LGBTQ, like banning doctors from offering certain types of treatment to transgender children.

Also on Tuesday, a state Senate committee advanced a bill to ban transgender girls from playing girls sports in middle and high school. A GOP sponsor of the bill, Iredell County Sen. Vickie Sawyer, said there are 15 such cases that they’ve heard about statewide. “We made 15 wrong decisions,” she said.

The Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce is holding an emergency meeting on Saturday morning, April 22, telling its membership:

“Our community is under attack, and we must stand united against the slate of hate that has been proposed in the North Carolina General Assembly. We will be gathering together to discuss what’s going on and what we can do about it! In this difficult time, we must protect our people and be in the community. Trans youth, especially Black and Brown trans youth, are facing an onslaught of possible laws targeted at banning their rights to education, sports, and healthcare in North Carolina. Join us this Saturday, April 22nd, at 10:30 am, with brunch and mimosas to get involved now!– *This is a non-partisan event*”

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Anti-LGBTQ+ far right activist questioned in NC power outage

State & federal investigators are looking into protesters of a local drag queen show but so far they have not been able to make a connection

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State and federal investigators are looking into protesters of a Saturday drag queen show, that Naomi Dix, (pictured) a drag artist- based out of Durham was hosting, although so far they have not been able to make that connection (Photo Credit: Dix/Facebook)

SOUTHERN PINES, Nc. – Law enforcement agencies are investigating a wide-spread power outage after intentional vandalism via gunfire was inflicted on the electrical infrastructure network in Moore County located 40 miles Northwest of Fayetteville Saturday night.

Moore County Sheriff’s deputies questioned a local woman after she posted on social media that she was aware of why the power was out blaming the outages on a drag show that was being held, which had already caused stirred up considerable controversy in Southern Pines.

Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields told media outlets that Duke Energy and other utility companies found evidence of intentional vandalism that had occurred at multiple sites. Fields added that the outages, which began just after 7 p.m. forced 45,000 people to endure freezing temperatures overnight.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper tweeted that he was aware of the outage and the ongoing investigation:

Former U.S. Army Captain Emily Grace Rainey, a far right anti-LGBTQ+ conservative activist had publicly attacked a local theatre that was hosting a drag show posted to her social media accounts:

“The power is out in Moore County and I know why.” She also posted a picture of the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines, which was putting on the sold-out drag show, with the caption “God will not be mocked.”

Rainey had previously posted her stance on the drag show. Last month the theatre was also targeted by the anti-LGBTQ+ Twitter account Libs of TikTok.

Rainey, 30, also posted on Facebook that she was visited by Moore County Sheriff’s investigators: “I welcomed them to my home. Sorry they wasted their time.”

Rainey has an established history of far-right activism including anti-COVID pandemic restrictions and vaccinations activity, had resigned her Army officer’s commission after receiving a career-ending letter of reprimand from command staff at nearby Fort Bragg for her far-right activism, including leading service members to Washington D.C. and attending the Capitol insurrection rally.

According to a CBS News report days after the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021, Rainey, was reported to be assigned to the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, according to Maj. Daniel Lessard, a spokesman for 1st Special Forces Command.

Known as PSYOPS, the group uses information and misinformation to shape the emotions, decision-making and actions of American adversaries.

She had led 100 members of Moore County Citizens for Freedom, which describes itself online as a nonpartisan network promoting conservative family values, from North Carolina to Washington to “stand against election fraud” and support Trump.  She claimed that that at no time did she or any members of her group illegally enter the Capitol grounds or building.

Previous to the Capitol insurrection according to CBS News correspondent David Martin, Rainey made headlines back in May of 2020 after she posted a video online of her pulling down caution tape at a playground that was closed under North Carolina’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Police investigators had charged her with injury to personal property over the incident. Detectives told WRAL- NBC News Channel 5 in Raleigh at the time that they let her off with warnings twice before after she tore down the tape closing off the playground before finally arresting her.

In the current power grid vandalism attacks, Rainey has not been named a suspect nor a person of interest and was only questioned about her social media posts by law enforcement.

Sheriff Fields, at a Sunday afternoon press conference called the perpetrators “cowards,” announced a Sunday curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The curfew is part of a countywide state of emergency proclamation, effective 4 p.m. Sunday. “No group has stepped up to acknowledge or accept that they’re the ones who’ve done it, so I call them cowards,” the Raleigh News & Observer reported the Sheriff told reporters.

Fields said Sunday that state and federal investigators are looking into protesters of a Saturday drag queen show at Sunrise Theater in downtown Southern Pines, but that so far they have not been able to make that connection.

Without naming Rainey, the Sheriff indicated in the press conference that the information she posted online was “false.” He told reporters he ordered his deputies “to go and interview this young lady and have a word of prayer with her, but it turned out to be nothing.”

He also confirmed that the damage was caused by small arms. State and local law enforcement were called in to provide security at substations overnight

Fields added that all available local law enforcement officers are working on the case, assisted by NC State Bureau of Investigation and FBI agents.

The local Southern Pines newspaper, the Pilot, reported:

Six hours after blocking off downtown Southern Pines for the town’s annual holiday parade, police returned to the blocks surrounding the Sunrise Theater to prepare for a drag performance show that has generated significant protest and controversy in town and on social media

The Downtown Divas drag show, which was scheduled for 7 p.m. but did not begin until 7:40 p.m., was scheduled as a fundraiser for Sandhills Pride, the local nonprofit supporting the LGBTQ community. The show originally allowed for children and teenagers to attend, but following angry protests online, the Sunrise and Sandhills Pride announced that only individuals aged 18 and older would be admitted.

[…] While drag show protesters gathered early, they were eventually outnumbered significantly by counter protesters, a number of whom waved rainbow flags, homemade signs and called out specific individuals who had stoked outrage toward the drag performance on Facebook over the past couple of weeks. Counter protesters chanted out expressions such as “I love you” and “love is love” and “love not hate.”

The Raleigh News & Observer’s journalist Martha Quillin reported that the drag show started at 7 p.m. and was under way when the power went out. Headliner Naomi Dix of Durham kept the show going until almost 9 p.m. “I asked that everyone turn on their phone flashlights to illuminate the room,” Dix said. “I then lead the crowd in singing Beyoncé’s ‘Halo.’”

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North Carolina county orders museum to yank photo of gay men kissing

Baldwin’s photograph shows Justin Colasacco & his husband Bren Hipp kissing after Colasacco proposed at the 2019 Charlotte Pride

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Charlotte Pride 2019 (Screenshot of photo by Grant Baldwin/WCNC)

GASTONIA, Nc. – Gaston County, North Carolina’s County Manager Kim Eagle ordered the staff at the county operated and funded Gaston County Museum in Dallas, to remove a photograph showing two men kissing taken by Charlotte-based photographer Grant Baldwin at the 2019 Charlotte Pride removed.

The Charlotte Observer reported that museum staff ask Baldwin for a replacement “that would be more considerate of differing viewpoints in the community.”

The Observer noted that Baldwin’s photograph shows Justin Colasacco and his husband Bren Hipp kissing after Colasacco dropped to one knee and proposed in front of the crowd at the 2019 Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade. They married Oct. 4, 2020.

NC museum removes historic LGBTQ photo without photographer’s approval:

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North Carolina Republican lawmakers introduce ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

The bill would endanger transgender and gender-nonconforming youth by requiring schools to forcibly out transgender youth to their parents

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State Capitol Building in Raleigh (Photo Credit: State of North Carolina)

RALEIGH – The chair of the North Carolina State Senate Education Committee introduced legislation Tuesday that prohibits teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity in the state’s public schools grades kindergarten through third, and would additionally require parental notice when students in any grade question their sexual identity in school.

The legislation, House Bill 755, introduced by State Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga), chair of the Education Committee along with Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) and Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover) is expected to begin its path through legislative committees in the Republican-controlled General Assembly starting Wednesday.

According to NBC News affiliate WRAL, the requirements are part of a broader bill, are similar to legislation on the move in other states and the law that recently took effect in Florida. Republican lawmakers are labeling the measure as a Parents’ Bill of Rights. Under the proposal, North Carolina schools would have to notify parents if students seek to use a different pronoun to describe themselves, and parents would have to sign off before students could get counseling or other non-emergency health care, WRAL reported.

The new bill’s parental notice section generated concerns among opponents Tuesday that LGBTQ students, afraid of how their parents would react if they find out about their sexual identity, could no longer turn to trusted teachers for guidance.

What if a parent is abusive, state Rep. Allison Dahle, one of the legislature’s few openly LGBTQ members, said after the bill was announced.

“Is the teacher going to be responsible for the child’s beating,” said Dahle, D-Wake. “North Carolina needs to be a safe place for everybody, and this is going to remove that safety net for children.”

Charlotte Pride Board of Directors President Clark Simon said in a statement that the bill would “endanger transgender and gender-nonconforming youth by requiring schools to forcibly out transgender youth to their parents,” and he noted the higher suicide rate for LGTBQ young people.

“This legislation will make this reality worse, not better,” Simon said.

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Right-wing Rep. Madison Cawthorn caught nude in leaked ‘sexual’ video

The roughly 30-second clip shows what appears to be a nude Cawthorn in a bed thrusting with his groin near the head of an unidentified male

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Madison Cawthorn (Screenshot/Queen City News NC YouTube)

WASHINGTON – Republican U.S. Representative Madison Cawthorn, the 26-year-old freshman from North Carolina, has experienced yet another provocative social media leak. The latest, a video, shows a nude young man strongly resembling Cawthorn on a sofa ‘dry humping’ in a contextually simulated sexual manner another young male. A wheelchair similar to the type used by the congressman is in the foreground.

The roughly 30-second clip shows what appears to be a nude Cawthorn in a bed thrusting with his groin near the head of an unidentified male person. A male voice can be heard saying, “Oh ma yah yah oh” repeatedly. A male voice can also be heard laughing and saying, “stick it in his face.”

The Congressman, who is up for reelection later this month, has drawn scrutiny recently for driving with a revoked license; two attempts to bring a loaded gun through airport security; allegations of sexual harassment; calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug;” reportedly denying a staffer leave when two family members passed away within the same week, and another video that leaked with a male friend placing his hand on Cawthorn’s genitals.

The Congressman, who has been confined to a wheelchair since an accident in 2014, has been one of the most vocal proponents to anything resembling equality. He’s posed for photos with other politicians who wants to revoke LGBTQ+ rights, such as Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Green, and Lauren Boebert. All have drawn scorn for their backwards-leaning agendas.

There’s an obvious parallel between Cawthorn and former conservative politician Aaron Schock, who was Republican U.S. Representative for Illinois’s 18th congressional district from 2009 until 2015. Schock was under investigation for extravagant spending and eventually came out as a gay man following the release of very explicit photos. 

Cawthorn is facing a slew of controversies and questions about misconduct. His recent troubles include allegations of an improper relationship with a staffer and after photos surfaced showing Cawthorn wearing women’s lingerie ― images he said were from a “goofy” game on a cruise ― and a video that showed one of his male staff members grabbing his crotch. The latter video has sparked an ethics complaint.

Congressman Cawthorn’s biggest scandals is now in federal court in a suit over his eligibility to run again for reelection.

Cawthorn has seemingly verified the authenticity of the video. In a tweet on Wednesday, he said: A new hit against me just dropped. Years ago, in this video, I was being crass with a friend, trying to be funny. We were acting foolish and joking. That’s it. I’m NOT backing down. I told you there would be a drip drip campaign. Blackmail won’t win. We will.

The Huffington Post reported that he has also made headlines over allegations of insider trading, trying to bring a loaded handgun onto a plane for the second time and having to surrender his driver’s license after driving with a suspended license.

In late March, he also raised some eyebrows when he claimed that the D.C. elite had previously invited him to orgies and done cocaine in front of him.

Editor’s note: These are links to the video. It is graphic and depicts simulated sexual acts. Viewer discretion is advised: YouTube Link: Here Twitter Link: Here

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North Carolina

N.C. Supreme Court rules domestic violence protections apply to LGBTQ+

“No matter where we come from or who we love, we should all be able to agree that everyone deserves protections from domestic violence”

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N.C. Supreme Court (Photo Credit: State of N.C. Courts)

RALEIGH – In a victory for LGBTQ+ equality, the N.C. Supreme Court affirmed a Court of Appeals decision establishing that people in same-sex dating relationships cannot be excluded from domestic violence protections.

The opinion in M.E. v. T.J was issued after the defendant appealed the December 2020 Court of Appeals decision holding that it was unconstitutional to exclude LGBTQ+ couples from domestic violence protections. North Carolina was the last state in the nation to deny certain domestic violence protections to those in same-sex dating relationships. 

The ACLU of North Carolina and attorney Amily McCool of the Scharff Law Firm represent M.E., a survivor of domestic violence who was denied a protective order simply because the person who was verbally and physically threatening to her also happened to be a woman. 

“No matter where we come from or who we love, we should all be able to agree that everyone deserves to have protections from domestic violence,” said M.E. “I appreciate the state Supreme Court being clear that no one who is a victim of domestic violence will be denied their right to have protection.”

“We appreciate the N.C. Supreme Court’s clarification that the Court of Appeals ruling stands undisturbed against meritless, merely technical attacks.  Our state constitution provides robust protections against sex-based discrimination, including discrimination arising from sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Irena Como, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU of North Carolina. “In holding that the administration of justice prohibits the elevation of form over function, especially in domestic violence proceedings involving people who have been traumatized, today’s decision ensures that the legal system should conform to the needs of people, not the other way around.”  

People in same-sex relationships are just as likely as people in opposite-sex relationships to be survivors of domestic violence. According to the North Carolina Department of Justice, more than 157,000 North Carolinians were survivors of domestic violence in 2014. 

Attorney General Josh Stein, Governor Roy Cooper, the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Legal Aid of North Carolina, the North Carolina Justice Center, the Pauli Murray LGBTQ+ Bar Association, and a group of ten former North Carolina District Court judges submitted amicus briefs in the case urging the court to uphold the Court of Appeals ruling that excluding same-sex dating couples from domestic violence protections is unconstitutional.

The N.C. Supreme Court opinion is available here.

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