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Monday, January 3, 2011

NC county board reacts to member's anti-gay barb

County commissioners in the state's largest city are considering a resolution against sexual bias after one of their own called gay people "sexual predators."
The Mecklenburg County Commission will discuss the measure Tuesday, The Charlotte Observer reported Monday.
Republican Commissioner Bill James last week wrote that "homosexuals are sexual predators" in an e-mail exchange among commissioners about the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that barred gays from serving openly in the military.
James opposed a proposal that the county commission send a letter thanking members of Congress from North Carolina who supported repealing the policy. County board chairwoman Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat who proposed the thank you letters, has since decided to send them herself after colleagues of both parties objected.
In reaction to James' remarks, Democratic Commissioner Harold Cogdell drafted the proposed resolution opposing inflammatory speech or discrimination because of sexual orientation. James accused the resolution's backers of pandering to gay constituents.
"This is about the speech police and controlling an issue that they have gotten a lot of heat over, because you can't go around censuring people for having a different opinion, or for expressing it," he said. "It's like having a resolution saying we're going to be uber-sensitive to prostitutes and pedophiles because we don't want them to get mad."
James' past remarks expressing his conservative political beliefs have also drawn criticism. In 2004, he said urban blacks "live in a moral sewer." In 2008, he compared illegal immigrants to drug dealers and prostitutes.
Roberts said people have signed up to speak about James' remarks at Tuesday's meeting. The Democrat said the resolution isn't specifically a reaction to James' comments.
"He's going to do what he's going to do," Roberts said of James. "And he's shown in repeated instances that he doesn't mind what kind of language he uses. And, in his mind, he's just speaking the truth."
Cogdell said James' comments reflected poorly on Mecklenburg County after they appeared on national blogs, the Huffington Post website, and news cable channel MSNBC.
James is "certainly entitled to his opinion, but I don't think his opinion reflects mainstream thinking in Mecklenburg County," Cogdell said.


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