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Clay Aiken Fights For First Place During NC Second District Debate: VIDEO

Aiken

Good ole' Clay Aiken! The openly gay American Idol runner-up fought his way through a debate Monday night with North Carolina second district representative (and opponent) Renee Ellmers. Ellmers has reportedly attempted to tie together Aiken and President Obama's beliefs in an attempt to win her congressional seat once again this November, but Aiken was not having it. 

ABC News reports:

“This Obama-Aiken economy is just killing us,” Ellmers said.

“You might need to get a new writer because calling it the Obama-Aiken economy is just preposterous,” Aiken responded.

According to Talking Points Memo, Aiken recently spoke with The New York Times about the very same topic, stating that there are "certainly areas where I disagree with [Obama]." Still, Ellmers kept digging, this time alluding to Aiken's vocal prowess and showmanship while discussing the U.S. military.

“It's almost as if as an entertainer, you believe that you can just go in with a song and dance and change the mind of the military leaders,” she said.

Aiken's priceless retort?

“The most embarrassing reality show in the country right now is Congress,” he said.

Good on you, Mr. Aiken!

Let's just hope that his pseudo-fame can make a difference. According to past elections, he has an uphill battle: President Obama lost there by over 10 percentage points in both 2008 and 2012.

Check out news coverage of the debate, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Clay Aiken Fights For First Place During NC Second District Debate: VIDEO" »


North Carolina Equality Proponents Will Ask Federal Judge to Quickly Strike Down State's Gay Marriage Ban

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Following the Supreme Court's refusal to hear an appeal of the 4th Circuit's pro-equality ruling in Virginia's gay marriage case this morning, advocates in North Carolina are set to ask a federal judge to quickly strike down the state's ban, the Associated Press reports:

American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina legal director Chris Brook said the group will file a request Monday seeking an immediate ruling from Chief U.S. District Judge William L. Osteen, Jr., in Greensboro overturning the state's ban as unconstitutional.

The ACLU of North Carolina writes on the current cases working their way through the state:

The ACLU and ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation have filed two federal lawsuits challenging North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, both in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina in Greensboro. The first, Fisher-Borne, et al., v. Smith, was filed in July 2013 as an amended complaint to a 2012 lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s ban on second parent adoptions on behalf of six families across the state headed by same-sex couples. On April 9, 2014, the ACLU filed a second federal lawsuit, Gerber and Berlin, et al., v. Cooper, on behalf of three married, same-sex couples seeking state recognition of their marriages. Because of the serious medical condition of one member of each couple, the Gerber plaintiffs are asking the court to take swift action.

Developing...


Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) Claims He Never Called 'Firing Gays' a 'Freedom,' Despite Audio Track: LISTEN

RobertPittengerNorth Carolina congressman Robert Pittenger fell into some hot water last week after a Think Progress reporter asked him his thoughts on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Pittenger responded by referring to the right to employ/fire employees as one of "the freedoms we enjoy." Last Wednesday he attempted to right this wrong by issuing a factually incorrect statement including the line, "Americans are well protected already." Now, though, Pittenger is claiming that he never spoke those words, at least not in the context of gay and lesbian employees.

The New Civil Rights Movement reports:

MSNBC last week reported that Pittenger's communications director denied "that Pittenger discussed 'firing gay individuals,'" despite the fact that the question specified "gay or lesbian" people.

“After the event, a blogger asked for an interview and then asked about [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act]. His opposition to ENDA was ‘translated’ into ‘firing gays’ by that blogger,” the director, Jamie Bowers, wrote in an email to msnbc on Friday.

While Pittenger does quickly veer away from explicitly discussing the rights of gay and lesbian employees in the response, his entire statement is subject to be critiqued based on the question asked. At this point, it feels like a shoddy cover-up for a botched response. 

Listen to the audio of the interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) Claims He Never Called 'Firing Gays' a 'Freedom,' Despite Audio Track: LISTEN" »


Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) Says Firing Gay People Is a 'Freedom We Enjoy' - VIDEO

Pittenger

Representative Robert Pittenger (R-NC) is courting controversy for remarks made at a recent town hall meeting in response to a question asking whether or not he supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act - which would protect LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace.

Responded Pittenger:

"It's like smoking bans. Do you ban smoking or do people have the right to private property? I think people have the right to private property… If you have a business, do you want the government to come in and tell you you need to hire somebody? Why should government be there to impose on the freedoms we enjoy?"

Backlash was swift, with gay rights groups and even the Charlotte Observer calling out Pittenger's stance. The paper wrote an op-ed Tuesday saying Pittenger's flawed argument could've been made for racial discrimination in the past. 

Watch a NBC Charlotte news report on the story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Pittenger2In an attempt to clarify his comments, Pittenger issued a statement to the station Wednesday saying:

"The statutes are clear, that Americans are well protected already. We should fully enforce current laws against discrimination. I hear America's cry for more jobs and a stronger economy, not more federal regulations added to the vast maze of federal regulations we have already. That can only stifle the ability of entrepreneurs to create new businesses and new jobs. It's incredibly hard to operate or start a business already, and I don't think America is begging for more obstacles to an economic recovery. Where does it stop? Is the next regulation going to prohibit a layoff even during an economic downturn? Will the next law mandate full employment? Where does the government's role in dictating our daily lives end? That's the debate we should be having."

Contrary to Pittenger's idiotic follow-up statement's implications, North Carolina and 28 other states continue to have no protections for LGBT people facing discrimination in the workplace. 

An ENDA discharge petition being pushed by Rep. Jared Polis currently has the support of 75 lawmakers - all of whom are Democrats.

Continue reading "Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) Says Firing Gay People Is a 'Freedom We Enjoy' - VIDEO" »


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

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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]


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