06/02/2011, by Melanie Nathan
RALEIGH, NC – 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”.
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).
“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.”
Last month, an estimated 2,000 people turned out for a rally in support of the Defense of Marriage Amendment, which Republican lawmakers have been trying for years to get on the ballot. They were met by a counter protest of the North Carolina Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality, which spoke out against the bill.
The amendment’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Jim Forrester, R-Gaston, has said that he’s been promised by Senate leader Phil Berger that the amendment will be voted on in September during a special session devoted entirely to constitutional amendments. Reps. Jerry W. Tillman, and Dan Soucek are also authors of the bill.
Thursday’s arrests mark the second set in as many weeks.
NAACP state president Rev. William Barber was among a group arrested last Tuesday after shouting messages from the House gallery.
The group was voicing opposition to proposed budget cuts they said would have a devastating impact on education, unemployment, voting activities and other state programs.
Updates on the condition, charges, and penalties assessed to the three activists will be available via GetEQUAL’s social networks (see below) and via GetEQUAL NC’s website, www.getequalnc.org.
GetEQUAL is a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBT community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information on GetEQUAL, please visit: http://www.getequal.org. You can follow GetEQUAL on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/getequal, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GetEQUAL, or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/getequal.