Unbelievable. Let's just look at this from the 30,000-foot view. How on earth is it controversial to protect children from harassment and violence? (N&O):
Sen. Doug Berger, a Franklin County Democrat, said the bullying bill will not be approved this session.
The bill was controversial because it listed "sexual orientation" and other characteristics as reasons schoolchildren might be the targets of bullying. Groups such as the Christian Action League and the N.C. Family Policy Council did not want the term in state law, saying that gay-rights groups would use it to leverage other rights.
Somehow, the bigots at the Christian Action League and the N.C. Family Policy Council scared enough of our Senate Democrats (including State Senator and U.S. Senate candidate Kay Hagan, who supported the bill, but decided not to show up and do her job to help NC students have a safe environment in which to learn). Of course we all know the cultural GOP fossils do the bidding of the far-right fringe organizations here in NC, but if all of these Dems had shown up, the bill would have passed.
In fact, "survey results released on Wednesday by Public Policy Polling (PPP) show that 72% of North Carolinians support this explicitly LGBT inclusive anti-bullying bill. Those in favor of the bill were in the majority in all demographic groups. Additionally, 58% of Republicans supported the measure."
Again, we have to rid our state of representation by Elizabeth Dole. It's clearly a matter of whether one believes that you can be elected in NC and publicly support any LGBT-perceived issues on the record with a vote. After all, this was a bill that would cover children who may not be gay at all, but simply not conform to gender presentation norms.
It's a strategic question facing our movement and our elected officials and advocates in NC; it's difficult to see how the hard work people put into moving our rights forward must remain relegated to support in whispered conversations. When will it be "politically safe" to be on-the-record when we cannot even pass a watered-down bill to protect children? That's a statement of exasperation.
This reminds me so much about national level pols who ran from any comment or position-taking on LGBT issues in the last presidential election. It was perceived to be a mine field, because of the fear of the wrath of the professional "Christian" organizations. In 2008, look at the difference, in all of the Dem candidates versus the GOP. Apparently spine-enhancement is a trickle-down sort of thing.
Of course this only further emboldens organizations like the Christian Action League and the N.C. Family Policy Council, even as public support clearly shows elected officials that this bill didn't deserve to be killed.
If you read the entire N&O piece, one of the means to attempt to get a vote on this bill was "pairing," which would facilitate a vote by taking pro votes and setting them opposite nay votes. Senators in opposition were told not to accept pair requests from senators who would have voted for the bill if present, aka Hagan. That in the end killed this. Had the MIAs been present and voted, it would have passed.
Perhaps this information might help those fence sitters and MIAs to think about what they could have done to stop the violence:
Only nine states and the District of Columbia have comprehensive anti-bullying laws that specifically address bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and only three of these laws mention gender identity. Nine other states have "generic" anti-bullying laws that do not specifically define "bullying" or enumerate categories of protected classes such as sexual orientation or gender identity. The remaining 32 states have no laws at all. The NSCS found that both states with "generic" anti-bullying laws and states with no law at all had equally high rates of verbal harassment. States with inclusive policies that specifically enumerate categories including sexual orientation and gender identity, however, have significantly lower rates of verbal harassment (31.6% vs. 40.8%).
* Bullying and Gay Youth: Students hear anti-gay slurs such as "homo", "faggot" and "sissy" about 26 times a day or once every 14 minutes.
Anti-Gay Bullying: What's the Big Deal?
Overall, 61% of students said they knew someone who had been called gay or lesbian. That's the biggest increase of any form of harassment students knew about, up from 51% in 1993. Most other experiences of sexual harassment have remained steady or decreased.
* When asked about their own experiences, 36% say they have "ever" been called lesbian or gay. That's the biggest jump among all the types of harassment students experienced, up from 17% in 1993.
* 19% of boys said they had been called gay "occasionally" or "often," double the rate in 1993 (9%).
* 13% of girls said they had been called lesbian "occasionally" or "often," almost triple the rate in 1993 (5%).