North Carolina Hub

Stephen Rhodes Hopes To Be NASCAR's First Openly Gay Success Story, Seeks LGBTQ Sponsorship: VIDEO

StephenRhodesStephen Rhodes grew up in Goldsboro, NC, a small southern town, but he has always been ambitious. An ace racer from a young age, Rhodes racked up rookie trophies in stock car races and found himself in the upper ranks of lower-tier NASCAR competitions throughout the 1990's and 2000's. After stepping back from his dream of becoming the first openly gay, successful NASCAR driver in order to help his partner open a restaurant in 2010, Rhodes is ready to get back behind the wheel. But he needs the LGBTQ community's support.

His crowdfunding page, Race for Equality, explains more:

This campaign is the most important thing in my life for two reasons....first and foremost this has been a life long dream of mine as I started when I was eight years old and devoted every weekend of my life to my racing career. Secondly when I came out at the age of seventeen I knew that I could use my talent to create a ever lasting impression on the gay community by providing exposure for equality in the biggest sport in the world with over 75 Million fans.

What Will Happen if we raise the money?! Stephen Rhodes will return to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as the First Openly Gay Driver, expand equality in the sport and will be sponsored solely by those in the LGBT Community and who supports our efforts!

Stephen explains that while most NASCAR drivers have the support of Walmart, Lowe's, and other big corporations, he wants to be sponsored by his own community. He is seeking $3 million, a hefty sum, though not as much when one considers the cars, parts, maintenance, entry fees, travel costs, etc...involved in one of the most widely publicized and watched sports in the world.

Consider sponsoring Stephen by donating to his crowdfunding page! Good luck, Mr. Rhodes--we hope to see you behind the wheel of a hot rod soon.

And check out a video/interview Rhodes filmed for the Speed Network, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Stephen Rhodes Hopes To Be NASCAR's First Openly Gay Success Story, Seeks LGBTQ Sponsorship: VIDEO" »

Winston-Salem, NC Defies Gay Marriage Ban by Recognizing Married Same-Sex Couples as Spouses


Winston-Salem is believed to be the first city in North Carolina to defy the state's ban on same-sex marriage and recognize married, same-sex couples with valid out-of-state marriage licenses specifically as "spouses,"

Citing the 4th Circuit's ruling overturning Vriginia's gay marriage ban and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announcing that he would no longer defend the ban in court, Winston-Salem's Human Resources Director Carmen Caruth told gay employees that city benefits would be extended to their spouses and children

Q notes reports:

Winston-Salem currently does not offer domestic partner benefits to unmarried couples. City Council members are expected to discuss a new plan in a Council community development, housing and general government committee meeting on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, legally married couples regardless of gender can enroll their spouses during a special enrollment period ending Oct. 31.

[photo via Wikipedia]

Thousands Petition NC Governor Pat McCrory to Stop Defending Gay Marriage Ban: VIDEO


On Wednesday, LGBT rights advocates delivered over 10,000 petitions to the offices of North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory [pictured below] urging him to stop defending the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

Pat“We are proud to deliver this important message alongside families from all across the state who are demanding Gov. McCrory not waste one taxpayer dollar defending what is now an unconstitutional and indefensible law,” said Chris Sgro, Equality NC’s executive director. “In doing so, we join them in asking that our elected officials not only stand with their constituents, but also help North Carolina stand on the right side of history.” 

Check out video of petitioners delivering the letters to McCrory's regional office in Charlotte, AFTER THE JUMP...

A spokesman for McCrory, however, indicated that the governor wasn't swayed by the petitions:

 "This issue will ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court. As of now, North Carolina’s marriage amendment remains in full force and effect. To ensure that our laws remain in effect until the final Supreme Court ruling, we call on the attorney general to request a stay in North Carolina’s pending cases," said Ryan Tronovitch, deputy communications director. 

In related news, a federal court on Wednesday stayed any further action on North Carolina's same-sex marriage battle until the Supreme Court rules on Virginia's gay marriage ban. 

Last month, NC Attorney General Roy Cooper announced his office would no longer defend the state's gay marriage ban after the Fourth Circuit overturned Virginia's ban. 

Charlotte Pride Festival Draws Thousands


Thousands of people marched and celebrated in uptown Charlotte over the weekend for the city's gay pride festival, Charlotte Observer reports:

The parade drew corporate sponsors, City Council members, allies and members of the gay community. Parade goers supported the parade participants with rainbow-colored dogs, pink boas and signs like “God Adores You.”

The festival, which ran Saturday and Sunday, was expected to draw more than 80,000 people, event organizers said, though Charlotte Mecklenburg police Capt. Mike Campagna declined to provide a crowd estimate. [...]

Several churches made appearances in the parade, with signs like “God Loves Everyone” from St. John Baptist Church, “God Invites. We Welcome. All.” from Caldwell Presbyterian Church and “Discrimination is a Sin” from Wedgewood Church.

There were few protesters out on Sunday. A half-dozen people stood along Tryon Street, holding signs like “God Hates Pride” and “Pornography/Pathway to Hell’s Fire.”

The AP adds that one of the honored guests at the parade was Crystal Moore, the Latta, SC police chief who was fired earlier this year by the town's homophobic mayor. Moore was subsequently reinstated by a public vote. 

[photo via Facebook/Wayne White Music Photography]

North Carolina Restaurant Says No To PFLAG Fundraiser

A North Carolina pizza restaurant has received heavy criticism for refusing to host a fundraiser for the local Gaston County chapter of PFLAG, something it has done repeatedly for other organizations in the past.

1According to the Gaston Gazette, Doug Rogers, owner of Johnny B’s Pizza Pad, claims he was not being discriminatory:

“I think everyone on our planet is entitled to happiness,” Rogers said Thursday. “It’s not my decision to determine how to live your life. I’m just making a business decision not to host that organization here because I feel like it’s not a good business decision.”

However, the PFLAG chapter's president, Ginger Feimster, says she spoke to Rogers herself and he was distinctly more blunt with her.

“He said he just couldn’t do it because of his personal feelings,” she said. “He said, ‘I just don’t approve of that lifestyle, and I’m not doing anything to support it.’”

Rogers has also allegedly deleted many critical comments on the restaurant's Facebook page.

A PFLAG Gaston board member suggested that his actions might affect Johnny B’s Pizza Pad in the future:

“I think it’s extremely disheartening in today’s world and today’s reality,” he said. “I don’t think he was thinking clearly or understood what he was doing will have broader implications. I know there are a lot of us who will not patronize his business now.”

On the bright side, Rogers has agreed to attend a PFLAG summer theater production this weekend at a local Episcopal Church. The PFLAG chapter has been active in Gaston County since 2009.

Photo via Facebook

ACLU of North Carolina on 4th Circuit Marriage Ruling: 'The Time to Act is Now'


The ACLU of North Carolina told reporters that it would push harder to invalidate the state's gay marriage ban following yesterday's ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirming the unconstitutionality of Virginia's ban.

The News & Observer reports:

Chris Brook, legal director at the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, announced the plans before a bank of TV cameras and group of news crews. His organization and the national ACLU are behind several lawsuits pending in federal court in this state challenging the constitutionality of the 2012 voter-approved amendment changing the North Carolina Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman...

...Brook acknowledged that an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court decision could mean that gay marriages will not occur immediately in North Carolina. It could be next summer before such a decision is weighed by the U.S. Justices.

But civil rights attorneys want to be prepared to move quickly in the wake of a higher court ruling and they will argue that North Carolina's ban should be overturned immediately.

"The time to act is now," Brook said. "The law is very clear here in North Carolina."

Watch video of Brook at WRAL...


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