Originally published: June 24, 2014, 5:43 p.m.
Updated: June 25, 2014, 12:08 p.m.
RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina House of Representatives’ second-highest leader compared LGBT people to a long list of sexual disorders and paraphilias during debate on an anti-discrimination measure on the House floor Tuesday afternoon.
House Speaker Pro Tempore Paul “Skip” Stam’s comments and his two-page handout containing some 30 different alleged definitions of sexual orientations and paraphilias came during debate on a one-sentence amendment to an existing bill that would have prohibited charter schools from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Photos of the handout, which was printed on Stam’s letter head, were posted on Twitter by Mecklenburg County House Rep. Tricia Cotham.
“Stam said no one can define sexual orientation and offered 30 possible definitions,” Cotham told qnotes via text from the House floor.
She called Stam’s remarks “absolutely offensive and unacceptable,” adding, “Words hurt and leave an impact.”
Guilford County Rep. Marcus Brandon, the state’s only openly gay or lesbian legislator, called Stam’s remarks “ridiculous.” He said he would work to better clarify the non-discrimination amendment, which was tabled during debate. The amendment was offered by Buncombe County Rep. Susan Fisher.
Stam’s handout apparently included definitions from the 2000 version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Several of the definitions for sexual disorders and paraphilias were from the old DSM. More recent versions of the DSM have made better distinctions and clarifications between sexual orientations and paraphilias. The APA declassified homosexuality as a sexual disorder in 1973.
Stam’s handout also included definitions for “transgenderism,” “transsexual” and “transvestite.”
qnotes has reached out to Stam’s office and left a message for him there.
Equality North Carolina, a statewide LGBT advocacy group was quick to respond Tuesday afternoon.
In a statement, Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro said: “We applaud Rep. Susan Fisher’s efforts to protect vulnerable gay and transgender students in North Carolina and we will continue to work with our legislative allies to make sure not one taxpayer dollar is ever used to subsidize schools that discriminate.”
Sgro continued, “At the same time, it’s important to understand that Skip Stam’s words represent not only an embarrassing display of anti-LGBT rhetoric in North Carolina, but a clear and present reminder of why these protections are so necessary — in our schools, in our workplaces, and at all level of everyday life in the state we call home.”
Sgro added, “Clearly, this type of bullying and harassment of LGBT North Carolinians starts from the top down in our General Assembly, and we will do everything in our power to join with a majority of voters at the polls to show our legislature that hurtful and hateful words and sentiments like those we heard today do not represent North Carolina values. “
On Wednesday morning, the North Carolina Democratic Party also responded. Its chairman, Randy Voller, said Stam’s comments were offensive and outdated.
“Not only did Representative Stam offend and wound the LGBTQ community,” V0ller said in a release, “but he also embarrassed himself, his Party, our state and the institution where he serves. At the ‘people’s house’ we deserve and should expect better behavior from our elected representatives. Responding to a reasonable amendment on an important bill that involves educational oversight with ‘frat boy’ rhetoric and absurd arguments clearly indicates that the fight for equality and a just society is far from over.”
Voller added, “At a time when the Democratic Party is passing inclusive resolutions at our state convention in support of civil rights for same sex couples and full equality for the LGBTQ community, extreme Republican leadership in Raleigh is still trying to divide us instead of building a better North Carolina for everyone. I empathize not only with the LGBTQ community, but with leader Stam as well because I know that he is better than this.”
Voller pointed to the Democratic Party’s history of LGBT inclusion, sharing two resolutions supporting full LGBT equality passed recently at the party’s state convention earlier this month.