commissioner bill james
Photo of Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James via The Charlotte Observer

Originally published: Dec. 27, 2010, 3:24 p.m.
Updated: Dec. 28, 2010, 3:40 p.m.

Bill James

CHARLOTTE — Anti-gay, Republican Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James on Monday said gays are “sexual predators” in an email to his colleagues on the board.

James’ remarks were made in response to County Commissioner Chair Jennifer Roberts’ request to send a letter thanking some members of the Charlotte-area congressional delegation for their “yes” votes on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal this month. Roberts was to send the letter to U.S. Reps. Larry Kissell and Mel Watt and U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan. President Barack Obama last week signed the repeal act into law.

“Homosexuals are sexual predators,” James wrote in one email from a string of several between county board members, Roberts and County Manager Harry Jones, and provided by James to qnotes. “Allowing homosexuals to serve in the US military with the endorsement of the Mecklenburg County Commission ignores a host of serious problems related to maintaining US military readiness and effectiveness not the least of which is the current Democrat plan to allow homosexuals (male and female) to share showers with those they are attracted to.”

James added, “The US Government would not allow Hetero men and women to share showers and other personal facilities yet the leading homosexual in Congress (Barney Frank) thinks it is OK for homosexuals to do so allowing enlisted men and women to fall prey to higher ranking or more powerful homosexuals who ogle them (or worse).”

Other county commissioners also objected to sending the letter, according to other emails also received by James. In one, Republican Vice Chair Jim Pendergraph says he is against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and relates a story of his encounter with a gay servicemember following his enlistmen in 1969.

“I don’t think the timing is right for this,” Pendergraph wrote, “and as a 19 year old enlistee from Steele Creek in the U.S. Army in 1969, the first homosexual I ever encountered was in basic training. He was the company clerk. It was a bad scene and this individual exerted his authority on young impressionable recruits.”

Pendergraph added, “Whatever you send, don’t put my name on it. I don’t see this as anything to be proud of.”

This month’s DADT repeal came after a months-long Pentagon report found there would be minimal unit cohesion or disruption problems resulting from an orderly policy repeal and implementation. Of the thousands of servicemembers surveyed during the Pentagon’s report, 70 percent said DADT repeal would have no or very little impact on troop morale or readiness.

Roberts, a Democrat, also specifically asked Republicans on the board about their thoughts on the letter, as DADT was not an issue on the county’s legislative agenda. Roberts especially sought to thank Burr, the only Republican senator in the Southeast to vote for repeal and the first such senator ever to vote positively on pro-LGBT legislation.

James said he would not congratulate Burr: “I suspect Richard Burr will pay a high electoral price for his actions but whether it boots him from office next time is unknown,” James wrote. “I know I won’t be supporting him even if he does have an R after his name.”

Fellow GOP Commissioner Karen Bentley also objected to the letter and voiced her opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, saying she was “highly disappointed” by Republican Burr’s affirmative vote on the issue on Dec. 18.

Burr won’t face another election until 2016.

Commissioner Harold Cogdell, Jr., a Democrat, also opposed the letter though he did so because matter was not an item on the county’s legislative agenda.

James also said he’d undertaken his own communication to the new Republican leaders of North Carolinas state legislature. He says he’s asked them to take up a variety of anti-gay social cause, like banning gay adoptions, prohibiting domestic partner benefits and placing on the ballot an anti-LGBT, anti-family marriage amendment to the state constitution.

James’ anti-gay comments following the Christmas holiday are not the first time the public official has spoken out strongly on LGBT issues. He often uses derogatory language or slurs to describe LGBT people in debates or communication with fellow public officials and constituents. During debate last December on domestic partner benefits for county employees, James leaned over to his Democratic colleague, Vilma Leake, and called her son a “homo.” Leake’s son died from AIDS in the 1990s.

James has been in office for nearly two decades and was one of the “Gang of Five” who voted to strip public arts funding in the 1990s during the county’s “Angels in America” controversy.

The Mecklenburg Gay and Lesbian Political Action Committe (MeckPAC) released a statement condemning James’ remarks on Tuesday. The full statement is reprinted below:

MeckPAC Statement on County Commissioner Bill James’ recent homophobic statements:

MeckPAC commends Commissioner Roberts on her initiative to thank local members of Congress who voted yes on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” MeckPAC also commends those members themselves, which include Reps. Larry Kissel and Mel Watt, and Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan. Ending that discriminatory policy was long overdue and is a major step toward equality for LGBT Americans.

Unfortunately, County Commissioner Bill James made comments in an email regarding DADT that homosexuals are “sexual predators.” These remarks are shocking, though not surprising considering his past rhetoric. Near the same time last year, Commissioner James called fellow Commissioner Vilma Leake’s deceased son a “homo.” Commissioner James has also said that black Americans live in a “moral sewer.” Such statements continue to be well over the line of decency and civility, and should be called out as the ignorant bigotry they are.

These personal attacks against fellow American citizens are unacceptable, and Commissioner James should be held accountable for his remarks as a leader. Other County Commissioners should ensure James’ comments are not allowed to appear as the voice of the overall board. It’s time for the Board to take a stand publicly against such speech. The community needs to hear loudly where each board member stands. LGBT and questioning youth — many of whom have been victims of bully suicides encouraged by Commissioner James’ attitude — should know there’s nothing wrong with them and they should not feel ashamed of who they are. LGBT people are of course not sexual predators or anything of the sort, despite the mythology that preaches otherwise.

Matt Comer

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

61 replies on “Meck commissioner calls gays ‘sexual predators’ in email to colleagues”

  1. Here you go Alessandra a little clip showing a pastor, a representative of your pious Christianity giving money to back Prop 8 and protect the children. Now he’s in jail on $6 million dollars bail for molesting little children. Keep using religion as your moral compass and your hate will spill like bloody rain hitting the pavement.

  2. Republican Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James on Monday said gays are “sexual predators” in an email to his colleagues on the board.

    I couldn’t agree more. Mandated perversion in the military, mandated perversion in the schools, and soon mandated perversion in day care centers. The day is coming when you will not be able to protect your child from this filthy lifestyle. Not only that, these sick LIBERAL democrats like Kay Hagan and these sick RINO republicans like Richard Burr will pass the legislation to accomplish it.

  3. It’s amazing how the “Christians” are infiltrating the gay news. I didn’t know you cared so much.

  4. Alessandra you are an ignorant one trick pony and blinders must be your favorite accessory. Hey, I have a bridge to sell you, it leads straight to the promised land of no libs or gays. Of course, it ends in la-la land, but I have a feeling you’ve spent much time there. It’s a land where calling people retarded and being a fool and not bothering to pay attention to anything that doesn’t appeal to you are GOOD things that make you sound intelligent. Enjoy, and take Bill James with you.

  5. I feel that a lot was said from both sides of this issue, around town at meetings and here in the comment section. Since Bill James established the fact that he doesn’t like Gays, Lesbians or Transgenders I feel that’s fine, he does have the right to opinion as well as anyone else. But Mr. Commissioner you stepped over the line of opinion when acting as a Mecklenburg Country Commissioner sending emails to your colleges trying to sway their beliefs to justify your personal feelings of homosexuals. You said homosexuals are Sexual predators. To me that means all. Son I am going to tell you right now you are in a lot of trouble, it is one thing to give an opinion but it’s another to label an entire people.

    That Bill is defamation of character. This Label that you so wisely stated in your emails to the other commissioners will land you in court. Yes you say it’s your 1st amendment right of freedom of speech. In my opinion you are wrong and in this case you don’t have that right. We are a proud people; we will not put up with this type of discrimination in our county government or any other for that matter. In closing I hope they do censure you tomorrow night at the commissioners meeting. You have a good night Bill you will need it Tuesday night.

    Janice Covington Chair of TransCarolina,

  6. January 3rd, 2011

    To Jennifer Roberts, Chair of the Board of County Commissioners of Mecklenburg County of North Carolina.

    Dear Jennifer:

    I feel that allot was said from both sides of this issue during meetings around town in reference to the statements Bill James made in his emails about homosexuals. Since Bill James established the fact that he doesn’t like Gays, Lesbians or Transgenders, I feel that’s fine, he does have the right of opinion as well as anyone else. I feel that Commissioner James stepped over the line of opinion when acting as a Mecklenburg Country Commissioner sending emails to his colleges trying to sway their beliefs to justify his personal feelings about homosexuals. Bill James stated homosexuals are Sexual predators. To me that means all. In my opinion it is one thing to give an opinion but it’s another to label an entire people.

    I feel Commissioner Bill James violated his affectedness’ as a member of the Board of County Commissioners of Mecklenburg County by issuing a bigoted comment in his emails and or correspondence with his fellow commissioners. This label that he issued does not represent the LGBT community in any way. Bill James does have the right under the 1st amendment right of freedom of speech to say what he believes. In my opinion and along with many others in the community heterosexual and homosexuals alike, he does not have the right to brand tax paying citizens with a slanderous and discriminatory comment. I feel Commissioner Bill James stretched his right of free speech and deserves disciplinary action.

    In closing I would like to say that we the LGBT are a proud people; we contribute in many ways as hard working viable voting citizens of Mecklenburg County. We will not put up with this type of discrimination in our county government or any other for that matter. I hope the board of commissioners sees fit to issue some type of action no less than to censure Commissioner Bill James for his actions.

    Janice Covington Chair of TransCarolina,


  7. My goodness Mary what a mouth you have. When it sings those hymns in church about loving the poor and caring for the sick are you able to form the words without spitting? Puking? You know nothing of gays and lesbians. What you know is hate. Christ wouldn’t recognize you. I love the parts of the new “CHRISTIAN BIBLE” Which say “love thy neighbor and kill the fags”. How spiritually enlightened of you! What a fine example of the life of Jesus you are.

  8. Mary, do you know how to read? Do you visit a Doctor? Can you even discern the truth from your filthy lies and mind or does your preacher have to cram it down your open gagging throat. NO MEDICAL ASSOCIATION IN THE WORLD AGREES WITH YOU AND YOUR KIND. Go Away! You are perverting fact and destroying the bell curve!

  9. Is this legal in the state of North Carolina? Isn’t there a code of conduct in regards to civil rights/anti-discrimination that would prohibit elected officials from perpetuating damaging and unfair stereotypes? I hope there is something written in NC’s law to get him out of office. That is scary that someone so loud and proud of his ignorance is in a position that is supposed to benefit and shape the community.

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  11. I’m wondering where he gets the idea that homosexual soldiers will ogle their unit mates in the shower. But I’m not surprised, most bigots think gays have a constant attraction to every guy in the world >_>

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