North Carolina Hub

Thursday Speed Read: Clay Aiken, Closeted on the Job, Heather Mizeur, Maryland, HIV Criminalization

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service


North Carolina election officials will review the outcome of the Congressional District 2 Democratic primary race on May 15, after they’ve had a chance to tally in absentee and challenged ballots. As of Wednesday afternoon, openly gay candidate Clay Aiken, of American Idol fame, held just over 40 percent of the vote with a 369-vote lead over businessman Keith Crisco.


A report released Wednesday by the Human Rights Campaign’s educational arm says that 53 percent of LGBT people keep their sexual orientation secret at their places of employment. According to the report, only 17 states and Washington, D.C., have laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Another four states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation only. The report, “The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion,” surveyed 800 LGBT workers and an unspecified number of non-LGBT workers.


Openly lesbian Maryland gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur stayed above the fray and focused like a laser on the need to increase the minimum wage and the virtues of legalizing marijuana. Mizeur, a delegate in the state House, was participating Wednesday night in the first debate in the three-way race for the Democratic nomination June 24. Mizeur ranks behind both Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler in polls. But a transcript of the debate published by the Washington Post, indicates Mizeur managed a solid performance.


At one point during Wednesday night’s debate, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur was questioned about her support for legalizing marijuana. She noted, among other things, that legalization could provide tax revenue to pay for a universal pre-Kindergarten. Mizeur then added that it would send “an important message about the fact that this is a substance that is arguably less harmful to the body than alcohol and tobacco.” That awkward juxtaposition of pre-Kindergarten and marijuana being “arguably less harmful” apparently prompted this question from moderator David Gregory of Meet the Press: “Are you comfortable saying to the children of this state, ‘marijuana’s okay’?” “We’re not saying that to the children of this state,” replied Mizeur, noting that, in fact, her plan calls for spending $4 million a year to make sure children know marijuana is a “a very dangerous substance for a developing mind.”


A report Wednesday from a coalition of groups working on fair treatment of people by the criminal justice system recommends the U.S. Department of Justice amend its guidelines to stop profiling of LGBT people and people with HIV by federal law enforcement agents. The “Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations for Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People with HIV,” was developed by former NGLTF Executive Director Urvashi Vaid and former AIDS Project Director at Lambda Legal Catherine Hanssens and others. DOJ announced in January it would revise its rules for federal agents to prohibit the use of sexual orientation and other characteristics to prompt investigations. In April, Attorney General Eric Holder said the department would begin to collect data on people stopped or arrested to “reduce” the possible effects of bias. But he did not make specific mention of LGBT bias. In a preface to the coalition report, former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous notes that New York City police have used “stop and frisk” practices against LGBT people. Another of the Roadmap’s authors, Andrea Ritchie, co-coordinator of the LGBT group Streetwise and Safe, said the coalition members have spoken with DOJ about some of their recommendations and look forward to conversations in the future.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

Anti-Gay Ex-Drag Queen Candidate Steve Wiles Got 27 Percent of Vote in Failed Primary Bid

Steve Wiles, the anti-gay GOP candidate for the state senate in North Carolina who is opposed to same-sex marriage and is a former drag queen who went by the name Mona Sinclair, received 27.49 percent of the vote in yesterday's primary election in his very conservative District 31, but failed to win.

WilesWrote Wiles on Facebook on Sunday:

I'm impressed by the way this story was used to present me to the conservative right as a gay advocate while at the same time presenting me as anti-gay to the gay community. talent! I am a Christian...I try to live a life that reflects my beliefs...I rarely, if ever, hit that mark! Meanwhile, I've maintained life-long friendships with a few people from the "club" days. One person springs to mind, although I will not call names, who is a former Miss Gay America, NC USofA and has performed successfully all of his adult life - he is one of the most loving men I've EVER known...Loving and accepting of everyone around him. He would do ANYTHING for his friends....I respect that in a person. He knows (and always has known) of my conservative stand on issues like gay marriage; he accepts that although he doesn't agree with me.

To some, I'll be known as a hard worker or a loving some, I'll be known as someone who has always stood up for what I thought was right at the time - even if it was wrong! To some, I'll be known as a person who will ALWAYS admit my short-comings and my faults. To some, I'll be thought of as anti-gay...and to a select few, I'll just be a "fag." Know that no matter which group YOU fall into - I have no hard feelings toward you and respect, not only your opinion, but your right to have that opinion.

Wednesday Speed Read: Clay Aiken, Kathleen Kane, Brunei, Lorri Jean, Monica Lewinsky

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service


Openly gay candidate Clay Aiken was holding on to a slim lead at midnight last night in his bid to win the Democratic primary for the U.S. House seat for North Carolina’s Congressional District 2. The state elections office showed him just 369 votes ahead of businessman Keith Crisco. If the lead holds, he’ll have just over the 40 percent share of the vote needed to avoid a run-off. In Congressional District 12, where another openly gay candidate was running against six other Democratic candidates, Marcus Brandon fell into fourth place, with only eight percent of the vote.


Democratic lawmakers walked out of a Republican-led hearing on a resolution of impeachment against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane Tuesday. Republicans sought to impeach Kane, a Democrat, because she announced last July that her office could not defend the state ban on same-sex marriage as constitutional. Democrats said the proceeding was a partisan attack.


JeanThe Human Rights Campaign and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center had speakers at a rally Monday in front of the famed Beverly Hills Hotel. The rally was aimed at building support for a boycott of the two Los Angeles hotels owned by the sultan of Brunei. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced on April 30 that his country would, in three phases, begin enforcing a new criminal code. The third phase, which will be enforced beginning next year, calls for people involved in homosexual relations to be stoned to death. HRC President Chad Griffin sent out a letter May 2 to various organizations with events planned at the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air, urging them to relocate their events.


Lorri Jean, executive director of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, told Monday’s rally in front of the Beverly Hills Hotel that the problem is not “just about opposition to the Sultan and his barbarism.” “It’s about taking a stand against the religious intolerance and bigotry masquerading as religious freedom that destroys people’s lives,” said Jean. “It’s not OK in Brunei, or Beverly Hills, or Pasadena or Los Angeles.  And we must do more to stop it."


In a Vanity Fair article published online Tuesday, former White House intern Monica Lewinsky says she empathized with Tyler Clementi’s anguish in having his intimate relations with another man secretly recorded and held up to ridicule on social media. Lewinsky says her own public humiliation over having had a sexual affair with then President Bill Clinton prompted thoughts of suicide, too. But after hearing the news of Rutgers first-year student Clementi’s suicide, she writes, “my own suffering took on a different meaning.” “Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation.” She says she wants to “get involved with efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment and to start speaking on this topic in public forums.”

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

Anti-Gay GOP North Carolina Senate Candidate is Former Drag Queen, But is Totally Not Gay

Steve Wiles, A GOP candidate for the state senate in North Carolina who is opposed to same-sex marriage, is a former drag queen who went by the name Mona Sinclair, and he's totally not gay.

The Winston-Salem Journal reports: Wiles

“I have already apologized to the people who matter most to me for the things I did when I was young,” Wiles said this week, declining to clarify for what he has apologized. The comment was made in the last of three separate interviews. At first, Wiles denied the claim.

“That’s not me,” Wiles said three weeks ago, referring to Mona Sinclair. Wiles responded “no” when asked whether he was gay. This week, Wiles’ campaign website, Facebook page and Twitter handle were taken down.

For about 14 years until 2010, Club Odyssey on Country Club Road was a nightclub where gay, lesbian and straight clientele could spend some money on drinks, relax with friends and, weekly, watch a show with talented female impersonators.

Wiles was a frequent patron in the late 1990s, Duggins said. Around 2001 and 2002, Wiles worked for Duggins as the show director, booking performers and running the show as Mona Sinclair, the emcee. At the time, Tomlinson also knew Wiles.


An online search for “Steven Wiles” and “Belews Creek,” the place he lists as his town of residence in campaign filings, turns up a link to the Miss Gay America website. Within the website, a webpage with Wiles’ name has been taken offline but the cached version was still accessible this week. The webpage lists a Steven Wiles as Mona Sinclair. It says he lives in Belews Creek and that he was a promoter of Miss Gay Eastern States America and a promoter for Miss Gay North Carolina America.

The webpage also says that Wiles was suspended for “conduct unbecoming to a promoter of the Miss Gay America pageant system,” according to the webpage, without providing more information.

Wiles explains himself in an interview with Business Insider:

"I think that everyone has their own choices to make and I'm fine with everyone making their own. For me, from a religious standpoint, just for my life, for me, it just was not something that I wanted to continue," Wiles said of his drag performances. "Of course it was an embarrassment, but you know, you move on. You live life, and you change, and you make yourself what you want yourself to be. And that's where I am now."

Wiles declined to answer when Business Insider asked whether he considers himself an "ex-gay."

"No, no, I really wont make any comments on that," he said.

Wiles posted this on Facebook early Sunday:


Stephen Colbert Faces Off with Gay Political Interloper Clay Aiken: VIDEO


Gay American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken is making a run for Republican Renee Ellmers congressional seat in North Carolina and Stephen Colbert welcomed him on the show to find out what it's all about.

Said Colbert: “I am un-warmed by your story. That's my disability. I don't hear things I don't like."

Colbert then tries to get him to sing the National Anthem. Will Clay get patriotic with the faux conservative?

Find out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Stephen Colbert Faces Off with Gay Political Interloper Clay Aiken: VIDEO" »

North Carolina Clergy Files First-of-its-Kind Lawsuit Challenging State's Gay Marriage Ban



In a first of its kind lawsuit, a group of ministers filed a complaint in federal court Monday against North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, saying that the law’s penalties against clergy who conduct ceremonies for same-sex marriages violates their free exercise of religion.

UccThe lawsuit, United Church of Christ v. Cooper, was organized by the United Church of Christ and filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in Charlotte. The UCC is a mainline Protestant denomination with an estimated one million members across the country.

The lawsuit challenges all North Carolina laws that define marriage as exclusively for opposite-sex couples, as well as the state’s “Marriage Laws” that “preclude—through the imposition of criminal penalties and otherwise— religious ministers, clergy, or anyone else from performing a ceremony of marriage for same-sex couples, thereby preventing couples in those congregations from freely participating in such religious ceremonies.”

The plaintiffs include UCC, clergy plaintiffs, and same-sex couple plaintiffs.

“Under North Carolina law, the Clergy Plaintiffs are prohibited under threat of criminal prosecution from performing any such religious ceremonies, and the Couple Plaintiffs are prohibited from becoming married in the tradition of their respective faiths. Such laws,” stated the lawsuit, “violate the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause.”

R_cooperThe lawsuit also claims the ban violates the First Amendment right to expressive association of all plaintiffs and, for couple plaintiffs, the constitutional rights to equal protection of the law and due process. It asks the district court to issue both a preliminary and permanent injunction against North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (right) and other state defendants to stop enforcement of the law.

Evan Wolfson, head of the national Freedom to Marry group, notes that North Carolina’s ban goes farther than most state bans by “actually criminalizing” a religious ceremony for a same-sex couple.

“In their zeal to withhold marriage from gay couples in North Carolina,” said Wolfson, “officials not only pushed a discriminatory constitutional amendment, but further piled on -- actually criminalizing clergy marrying couples within their own religious beliefs. The intent was to chill houses of worship from celebrating love in their own faith, and crossed the line in violating religious freedom on top of violating the constitutional guarantee of the freedom to marry.”
Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, called the lawsuit “particularly promising” because of the criminalization aspect.

North Carolina makes it a misdemeanor for a “minister, officer or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage” under North Carolina law to marry a couple without them having obtained a marriage license, which same-sex couples cannot obtain from the state.

“If this provision applies to purely religious marriage ceremonies, as opposed to only civil marriages solemnized by clergy,” said Davidson, “I believe it would violate the religious freedom guarantee of the First Amendment.”

States law can define who can get married and who cannot. Many states, for instance, ban marriage between first cousins. They justify such bans by pointing to scientific studies that indicate an increased risk for producing children with birth defects. But states with bans on same-sex marriages have had a hard time justifying them, and courts have routinely found their explanations unconvincing. Most lawsuits challenging state bans on allowing same-sex couples to marry argue that the bans are driven by a desire to discriminate against LGBT people.

Gary Buseck, legal director for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said the religious arguments in support of allowing same-sex couples to marry “have been floating around for some years and have been laid out to some extent in amicus briefs in some cases.” But he says the UCC case may not move far at all simply because there are cases further along in the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which includes North Carolina.

The Fourth Circuit will hear arguments May 13 in Bostic v. Schaefer, a case being led by the legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies. Lambda Legal and the ACLU have become intervenors in that case because they have a similar one in Virginia, too.

Geoffrey_blackRev. Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president of the UCC, said his denomination is “proud to defend the religious freedoms upon which this nation was founded.”

Meanwhile, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper had until Monday to respond to a request in an ACLU-led lawsuit, Fisher-Borne v. Smith, on behalf of six couples. The request is seeking a preliminary injunction and expedited review to allow a lesbian couple’s marriage in Massachusetts be recognized in North Carolina to secure health coverage for their child with cerebral palsy.

Cooper filed a brief Monday opposing the request, calling it an “extraordinary step” that would, in essence, undo the North Carolina law. The brief says the harm that might be experienced by the couple and their child is “outweighed by the harm to the public if State officials are enjoined from enforcing the democratically ratified State laws and Constitution.”

“To alter the definition of marriage, by means of injunctive relief granted prior to this court’s ruling on State Defendants’ pending dispositive motions, prior to the final determination of this action on merits, and prior to the Fourth Circuit’s and the United States Supreme Court’s guidance on this important social issue,” wrote Cooper, “is not in keeping with the applicable jurisprudence or the Supreme Court’s preferred deliberative process. [Plaintiffs’] motion should be denied on this basis alone.”

The response was likely a surprise to some, given that Cooper, a Democrat, has expressed his opposition to the ban on same-sex marriage. But he has also vowed to enforce the law as long as it’s on the books. Local papers have reported for months that Cooper is expected to be a candidate for governor in 2016.

The ACLU has until May 5 to reply to Cooper’s response.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


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