Sen. Julia Boseman

Sen. Julia Boseman (D-New Hanover), North Carolina’s only openly gay or lesbian state legislator, voted against a resolution honoring the life of the late Jesse Helms on Wednesday, June 10. She was the only legislator to register a vote against the honorary resolution. Twenty-six other legislators, meanwhile, sat out of the vote.

The resolution, which passed the Senate 41-1 and the House 98-0, states, “The General Assembly of North Carolina expresses its appreciation for the life and public service of Jesse Alexander Helms, Jr., and honors his memory.”

Helms was a conservative radio and TV commentator before serving on the Raleigh City Council and later serving as a U.S. senator.

Mark Binker of the Greensboro News and Record reported that House members of the legislative black caucus seemed to walk out “en mass” when the resolution came to the floor. Most declined to speak about their absence in chambers.

“This is just the best place for me to be right now,” Rep. Alma Adams (D-Guilford), chairman of the caucus, told the News and Record’s Binker.

Rep. Earl Jones, another Guilford Democrat, told Binker, “I’m just taking a break.”

Only two legislators had registered excused absences for the day.

In her own words…

Click over to Q-Notes‘ blog for Julia Boseman’s thoughts on the resolution, her no vote and the mass walk-out of her 26 House and Senate colleagues. Read more…

Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham), a member of the black legislative caucus, was one of the more than two dozen legislators absent for the resolution’s vote.

“I could have never voted in favor of a resolution honoring Sen. Helms because of his divisive history and his anti-civil-rights principles,” said Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham), according to an Associated Press report.

The legislature routinely hears and passes honorary resolutions for state leaders and community members. It is rare for legislators to vote against them or to boycott them altogether.

One of the last lines of the Helms resolution reads, “North Carolinians mourn the death of this dedicated public servant who was known and respected for his love of his home State and his nation.”

Helms has been criticized, past and present, for his conservative racist and homophobic views and legacy. He was a chief opponent of HIV/AIDS funding during the 1980s AIDS crisis. He said gay men were “weak, morally sick wretches” who contracted the disease through their own “deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct.”

In 1988, Helms said, “There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy.”

Q-Notes called Boseman and left a message for her late Wednesday afternoon. Stay tuned to Q-Notes for more updates.

— Read the full text of the Jesse Helms resolution here.

Matt Comer

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

6 replies on “Lesbian senator votes against Jesse Helms resolution”

  1. The late Senator Helms has a lesbian granddaughter, an elected judge in NC, who lives in a committed relationship openly. One of Senator Helm’s senior aides worked with him to hurt gays and lesbians, and was in a three decade committed gay relationship with three adopted kids.

    Where do they find men like Helms? More importantly, where do you find his granddaughter and senior aide?

  2. Julia rocks. So do those other folks who walked out, although I wish they had voted against it so it wouldn’t have passed by so huge a margin.

    Raymond, granted that aide was a first-class putz, but why would it be Helms’s granddaughter’s fault that her granddad was an bigot? Loads of gay folks have bigoted or nasty relatives – no reflection on them. She deserves sympathy, I think.

  3. Thank you Senator Boseman. Wow, a politician who stands for something. How often do you see that?

  4. I am one North Carolinian who rejoiced when the late Senator passed! We do not need divisive people serving the people of this state. Thank you Julia Boseman for standing up for what you believe and for your strong leadership in this state. Had I won election in 08 I would have been right there with you!

  5. I think you will censor this email. A brave new world we live in. Free Speech—as long as it is lefty.

    Enough with the praise of this woman. Just another politician pushing her own self interests.

Comments are closed.