Originally published: Nov. 3, 2010, 12:29 p.m.
Updated: Nov. 13, 2010, 1:40 p.m.
Republicans surged to power in the North Carolina House and Senate in the 2010 midterm elections held this month, the first time since 1870 that both chambers will have a GOP majority at the same time. The Senate stood to open its next session with 31 Republicans and 19 Democrats. A final count isn’t set for the House, but Republicans are expected to hold at least 67 or 68 seats out of that chamber’s 120.
Advocate Ian Palmquist, executive director of Equality North Carolina, says the switch could mean negative consequences for LGBT North Carolinians.
“I think we will see an attempt to pass a constitutional amendment [on marriage],” he told qnotes. “We’re absolutely going to work to try to block and I wouldn’t count out the possibility of doing that.”
State Republicans in both chambers of the legislature have pushed for an amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriage for nearly eight years. The Democratic-controlled legislature never heard the amendment.
Other progressive pieces of legislation, such as 2009’s School Violence Prevention Act and Healthy Youth Act, were also targeted for defeat by Republicans. Palmquist says those bills — which instituted LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policies in schools statewide and an abstinence-based comprehensive sex ed curriculum, respectively — could also be threatened under GOP control.
“We don’t know for sure exactly what they are going to pursue,” he said. “I think it was very clear voters were focused on the national economic climate and not on social issues. I hope the Republican majority will focus on the issues that got them elected and not on issues like attacking our community.”
In October, GOP leaders released a list of eight priorities in their first 100 days in office if they won either chamber of the legislature. Social issues like marriage or LGBT-inclusive bullying legislation was not among the items. Current House Minority Leader, Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake), set to become the body’s next speaker, didn’t return qnotes’ call for comment.
Palmquist said his group would be working to block any attempts to repeal the bills. “We’ll also be calling on Gov. Perdue to step in and veto any negative legislation,” he said.
Despite what activists see as an overall negative outcome this election, Palmquist said there are a few bright spots. Marcus Brandon, an openly gay African-American man, easily won his race in Guilford County’s 60th House District. He’ll become the state’s only openly gay state legislator. State Sen. Julia Boseman will leave the Senate after her term expires at the end of this year.
“That’s a huge step forward,” Palmquist said of Brandon’s win. “The difference Julia Boseman made in the state Senate was really significant. I think it will be important for members of the House now to have a colleague who is openly gay. It is really exciting and historic to see an openly gay, African-American legislator in North Carolina and
Palmquist also said several strong legislative allies will return to the legislature.
“One of the important takeaways is that we did not see legislators losing their races over pro-equality positions,” Palmquist said.
Some of the tougher races included reelection bids by Sen. Bill Purcell (D-Anson, Richmond), Rep. Grier Martin (D-Wake) and Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake). Each came under fire for their support of LGBT issues and legislation.
Outspoken ally and state Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland), who carried the School Violence Prevention Act through the House, also faced a tough fight. He won his race by tight margin and a recount is expected. : :
Photo Credit: Ashe-Villain, via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons.