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May 7, 2014

Equality NC Responds to 2014 Primary Election Results

Equality NC responded today to last night's 2014 primary election results, including news that two openly gay candidates vying for office in the General Assembly lost in their respective primaries, guaranteeing lack of representation for LGBT citizens in the state legislature.

Aiken Takes Slight Lead, LGBT Candidates Falter in NCGA Races

Former “American Idol” contestant Clay Aiken’s Democratic congressional primary remains too close to call, with just hundreds of votes separating the openly-gay candidate from his chief rival.

Meanwhile, two openly gay candidates vying in General Assembly races across the state lost in their respective primaries on Tuesday. With their loss, North Carolina’s LGBT community will be without representation in the state legislature.

"Last night's election night results were certainly bittersweet," said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC Action Fund, Equality NC's political action committee (PAC). "We are heartened by important wins by many of our pro-equality primary picks -- including what looks like a close victory for openly-LGBT Congressional candidate Clay Aiken in a conservative district, look forward to working with our many straight allies at the state legislative level, and will fight for many of these same and similar allies in the 2014 general election. But we also strongly believe the presence of openly-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state electeds has become absolutely vital in order to reflect and represent the hundreds of thousands of LGBT North Carolinians in the state they call home, not to mention to lend credence to any North Carolina political party pledging a commitment to diversity and inclusivity."

Sgro added, "These 2014 North Carolina primary results -- in which no openly-LGBT candidate will rise to the challenge of leadership in our General Assembly for the first time in a decade -- make clear that our state must redouble its efforts to recruit and elect gay or transgender legislative candidates, and our political action committee, Equality NC Action Fund, is committed, where necessary, to take the lead."

Come next January — for the first time in a decade — no openly LGBT person will be counted among the legislature’s 170 members. The state’s only openly gay member currently, House Rep. Marcus Brandon, isn’t running for reelection.

Tillis Wins Primary, Will Face Incumbent Hagan

North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis also advanced in his Republican primary for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, keeping more radical and anti-LGBT candidates off November’s general election ballot.

As speaker of the North Carolina House, Tillis presided over sessions which considered and then approved the addition of the anti-LGBT amendment to a May 8, 2012, ballot. The measure, which Tillis said he supported, was passed by 61 percent of voters.

As Qnotes reported, "Tillis made waves among conservatives when speaking to students at North Carolina State University a month before the ballot initiative. At the time, Tillis said he thought the amendment would pass, as it did, but that it would eventually be overturned."

“It’s a generational issue,” Tillis said. “If it passes, I think it will be repealed within 20 years.”

Tillis now goes on to face incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in November.

Equality NC responded to the Tillis victory with executive director Chris Sgro calling out the Speaker's history of shifting views on LGBT issues.

"There was a time not long ago -- when Speaker Thom Tillis himself stated Amendment One would be repealed -- that we believed the Speaker understood the historic mistake that is North Carolina's divisive and discriminatory 2012 ban on the freedom to marry.  Because Tillis is also a businessman, it was  also our understanding that he was acutely aware of the business case for non-discrimination and inclusion and how Amendment One would not only leave the state not only on the wrong side of history, but leave the state on the wrong side of many a corporate balance sheet," said Sgro. "But in the wake of this primary election, we now see that Tillis has shifted course to championing a law he once undermined in order to cater to a small minority of primary voters, and will stop at nothing to drive a political wedge through North Carolina and its citizens using a bad law called Amendment One."

Sgro added, "On the other side of this closely-watched Senatorial race, incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan has made clear her opposition to Amendment One, her support for marriage equality, and her vote for a fully enumerated federal law to protect gay and transgender workers -- making her the clear and uncompromising choice for LGBT, allied, and pro-equality voters in the November general election."

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