Former drag queen runs for N.C. state Senate as anti-marriage Republican

SteveWiles

Steve Wiles

North Carolina Republican state Senate candidate Steve Wiles supports the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Not surprising until you learn that Wiles also was known as Miss Mona Sinclair who performed at Club Odyssey from 2002 until 2010, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Wiles first denied he was the drag performer but within three weeks admitted he was.

“I have already apologized to the people who matter most to me for the things I did when I was young,” Wiles said.

He didn’t clarify what he apologized for. For entertaining? For raising money for AIDS organizations?

He also wouldn’t confirm or deny if he is gay.

Wiles also was a Miss Gay America promoter, although he was suspended for “conduct unbecoming to a promoter of the Miss Gay America pageant system.”

The Winston-Salem paper reported Wiles voted in the Democratic primary in 2008. By 2012, he was campaigning for the anti-marriage amendment that passed. In the current election, he has made the anti-gay law his primary issue.

Wiles explained his support of the amendment.

“I do not condone the things I did when I was young,” Wiles said.

Wiles has two opponents. One is the incumbent in this conservative district. The primary for the Republican nomination is tomorrow.

—  David Taffet

United Church of Christ sues N.C. to allow gay marriages

uccIt’s the first time for a national Christian denomination to sue in favor of same-sex marriage, citing restricted freedom of religion. Currently, ministers who marry couples without a marriage license can face misdemeanor charges punishable by up to 120 days in jail.

On Monday morning, Holy Covenant’s denomination, the United Church of Christ (UCC), along with ministers of other Charlotte-area congregations including a rabbi, filed a lawsuit challenging state marriage laws for restricting ministers’ free exercise of religion. The UCC is also seeking preliminary injunction that would allow ministers to choose whether to perform a religious marriage. The case appears to be the first time a national Christian denomination has challenged a state’s marriage laws.

The lawsuit has been in the works since 2012, when North Carolina voters approved Amendment One, a constitutional ban on gay marriage, with 61 percent of the vote. State laws prevent ministers from performing weddings if the couple does not already have a marriage license, and so religious wedding ceremonies are at odds with the law even if ministers are not sanctioning civil marriages.

Earlier this spring, the UCC, the lead plaintiff, reached out to local congregations, including Holy Covenant, to ask pastors if any church members might be candidates to join the suit. Three other couples from other churches have joined the Smith-Cloningers, and the group is suing the state’s attorney general Roy Cooper as well as other county district attorneys and registers of deeds.

The effort is part of the UCC’s long history of social justice advocacy. The mainline Protestant denomination — President Barack Obama’s own church denomination in Chicago—has more than one million members and 5,100 congregations nationwide, including 150 churches in North Carolina, and the UCC general synod passed a resolution supporting marriage equality in 2005.

“For 40 years or more we have been seeking justice and equality for gay and lesbian people,” explains Geoffrey Black, president and general minister of the United Church of Christ. “This is the moment when we have an opportunity to seek justice and equality for gay and lesbian people, and so we are taking that matter very seriously.”

Smith and Cloninger are planning to have their religious ceremony at Holy Covenant in October no matter the outcome of the case.

“We’ve bought dresses, we’ve sent save the date cards, we’ve booked a reception hall,” says Smith, who along with Cloninger is a North Carolina native. “Nothing could make us happier than if we were able to have both a religious and legal ceremony with everyone that we love around us and our pastor legally able to officiate that ceremony.”

Nancy Allison, the pastor of Holy Covenant and an individual plaintiff in the case, is willing to face any repercussions that may come.

“I can’t imagine the law enforcement of North Carolina coming after a clergy person for doing their job, but if I were to be arrested for this, I would gladly face those arrest charges,” Allison explains. “I can do no other than move forward under my convictions.”

—  Steve Ramos

WATCH: Scenes from Wednesday’s rally in Dallas

After President Barack Obama declared his support for marriage equality on May 9, about 100 people gathered at the corner of Oak Lawn and Cedar Springs that evening.

Daniel Cates from GetEQUAL organized the rally that was originally called to protest the North Carolina vote to amend its state Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.

Among the speakers were the Rev. Jo Hudson of Cathedral of Hope, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Omar Narvaez, Equality Texas board member Travis Gasper, the Rev. Steve Sprinkle from Brite Divinity School and activist Michael Robinson.

Watch video from the rally below.

—  David Taffet

LGBT activists plan rally tonight in Dallas in response to North Carolina marriage ban

Activists march down Cedar Springs Road in 2009 after voters in Maine overturned marriage equality. (JOHN WRIGHT/Dallas Voice)

In response to the passage of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in North Carolina, LGBT activists in Dallas plan a rally tonight on Cedar Springs Road.

Daniel Cates, North Texas regional coordinator for GetEQUAL, said the rally will call for the Democratic National Committee to move its 2012 Democratic National Convention out of Charlotte, and for the DNC to add support for same-sex marriage and full federal equality for LGBT people to the party platform. The rally will also call for leaders like Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and President Barack Obama to end their silence on marriage equality.

“The passage of Amendment 1 sends a clear message that a majority can, by a popular vote, restrict the rights of a minority. This is dangerous territory and undermines the principals our nation was founded upon. Fair minded people across this nation must speak up and condemn the passage of this amendment.” Cates said in a press release. “We are calling on all leaders, from Mayor Mike Rawlings to President Obama, who have claimed to be our friends and campaigned for our votes to end their silence on issues of civil rights for LGBT people and take a substantive stand for what they know is right.”

North Carolina, where first cousins and convicted murderers can still marry, becomes the 30th state to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage — and the last of the Southern states to do so. Amendment One, which voters approved by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent, also prohibits all other forms of relationship recognition for same-sex couples.

Meanwhile, as if to add insult to injury, Republicans in the Colorado House blocked a vote on a civil unions bill late Tuesday.

Tonight’s rally begins at 7 at the Legacy of Love Monument, at Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road. Participants are encouraged to bring signs, flags banners and candles. For more information, contact Cates at Daniel@getequaltx.org. The full press release is below.

—  John Wright

While N.C. lawmakers put marriage amendment on the ballot, lesbian wins city council primary

The North Carolina General Assembly adjourned Wednesday after a three-day session during which lawmakers’ main accomplishment was to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ban same-sex marriage in the state. The adjournment came one day after out lesbian LaWana Mayfield won the Democratic primary in her bid for a seat on the Charlotte, N.C., City Council.

LaWana Mayfield

The anti-gay-marriage amendment had been “knocking around the hallways of the Legislative Building for eight years,” according to a report at Chron.com, which also noted that Republican lawmakers “took criticism from all fronts” for spending time on the marriage amendment while accomplishing little on more pressing items on the legislative agenda.

“Democrats, gay rights advocates and dozens of business leaders slammed the GOP leadership for holding votes on the measure without public comment and putting the elimination of the rights of gays and lesbians on next May’s ballot,” Chron.com reported. And Democratic House Minority Leader Joe Hackney called the three-day session “one of the biggest wastes ever to hit the North Carolina Legislature.”

Alvin McEwen, writing for The Huffington Post, pointed out that polls show “a majority of folks in North Carolina” oppose the amendment, a fact, he said, that the people and organizations pushing the amendment chose to ignore. McEwen is blogmaster for Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, a blog that carries the tag line, “Lies in the name of God are still lies.”

Meanwhile, LaWana Mayfield pulled in 51 percent of the vote in a three-way race for the Democratic nomination for a Charlotte City Council seat, beating out opponents Warren Turner, who got 34 percent of the vote and Svend Deal, who finished third with 15 percent, according to On Top Magazine.

On Top reports that Mayfield, a community organizer, is heavily favored to best Republican candidate Ed Toney in the Nov. 8 general election because the two are running in a majority black district that traditionally favors Democratic candidates. If Mayfield does win, she will be Charlotte’s first openly LGBT councilmember.

Mayfield is supported in the race by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Maryland Senate kills gender identity bill; anti-gay hate crime at UNC

Quinn Matney was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime at the University of North Carolina.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. For a third straight week, LGBT advocates plan to speak during the Dallas County Commissioners Court’s meeting today and call on commissioners to add transgender employees to the county’s nondiscrimination policy. Last month, commissioners voted to add sexual orientation but not gender identity to the policy. The Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. in the County Administration Building, 411 Elm St.

2. The Maryland Senate on Monday voted to kill a measure that would have protected transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment and credit — but not public accommodations. The vote marks the second major disappointment this year for LGBT advocates in Maryland, where the House thwarted a marriage equality bill last month.

3. A University of North Carolina freshman says he was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime on the school’s campus last week. The UNC administration, which failed to notify students until a week after the attack occurred, now says it plans to report the incident as an anti-gay hate crime to the federal government.

—  John Wright

North Carolina court rules 2nd parent's gender not a factor in adoption case

Julia Boseman
Julia Boseman

According to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, lesbian North Carolina State Sen. Julia Boseman won a custody battle with her former partner, Melissa Ann Jarrell. Their child was born in 2002. Boseman did a second parent adoption in 2005, but the couple split in 2007. Jarrell tried to have the adoption invalidated but the court has ruled that gender is not a factor in adoption in North Carolina. Read an article from The Greensboro News-Record by going here.

— David Taffet

—  Dallasvoice