In a series of three articles (1, 2, 3) published last week, qnotes covered U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers’ and her spokesperson Jessica Wood’s reaction to Clay Aiken’s congressional campaign announcement. In doing so, I included information about Wood, incorrectly and offensively linking her volunteer work in Uganda with that nation’s current movement to criminally penalize LGBT people with long prison sentences and, in extreme cases, death.

While it is true that such an extremely violent movement currently exists in Uganda, and while I thought it might be relevant at the time, given the intimacy with which conservative U.S. Christian organizations have been involved in Uganda, I have since learned that the comments were personally offensive to Wood. I did not intend for the comments to be mean-spirited, but realize now how they might have been, and indeed were, interpreted in that manner. I have reached out privately to Wood and offered my apologies, and I do so now publicly.

As journalists, spokespeople and leaders, individuals like myself, Wood and Congresswoman Ellmers have an honor and duty to accurately and respectfully inform and lead the people who trust us. In that vein, I have offered my apologies, edited the past stories and I am retracting the original, offensive remarks in question.

I hope that Wood and Congresswoman Ellmers might consider taking similar action to rectify the great offense they caused to LGBT and other fair-minded North Carolinians when they chose to utilize traditionally anti-gay rhetoric commonly used to link LGBT people to vice, immorality and otherness. We all deserve a North Carolina where all are respected and included, regardless of their political affiliation, religious faith or sexual orientation.

With respect,

Matt Comer, editor

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Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

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