“Maybe it’s just me, but civil debates on marriage equality don’t necessarily encompass images of an assassin targeting newlyweds.”

North Carolina Family Policy Council’s ‘Sniper’ Image To Promote Same-Sex Marriage Ban Sparks Controversy

Gay Wedding Protest Pic
First Posted: 12/29/11 05:24 PM ET Updated: 12/29/11 05:34 PM ET, The Huffington Post

The North Carolina Family Policy Council’s use of a violent image to promote the state’s proposed amendment banning same-sex marriage has ignited controversy among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates.

The photograph, which can be found on page 13 of the winter 2012 issue of the organization’s Family North Carolina publication, shows a traditionally-dressed bride and groom being targeted by an unseen sniper. It illustrates an article titled “Marriage In Society’s Moral Crosshairs,” by Jacqueline Schaffer, J.D.

“Protecting traditional marriage by enshrining it in the State Constitution is not only socially beneficial, but it is also necessary to protect religious liberty,” Schaffer writes. “When the state sanctions a morally controversial lifestyle such as homosexuality, it will inevitably draw itself into conflict with the religious and moral beliefs of its citizens. Such conflict, however, is not hypothetical, and its outcomes are already well-documented.”

The image has sparked the ire of several bloggers. Writes Unicorn Booty‘s Kevin Farrell: “Did the North Carolina Family Policy Council somehow sleep through that time Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head after Sarah Palin put her in a rifle’s crosshairs? Didn’t we come to the societal conclusion that crosshairs and gun imagery?”

Adds Alvin McEwen
 of LGBTQ Nation: “Maybe it’s just me, but civil debates on marriage equality don’t necessarily encompass images of an assassin targeting newlyweds.”

Meanwhile, the North Carolina Psychological Association has published what officials have deemed four top reasons why opposing same-sex marriage “is bonkers.” Among them: “There is empirical evidence that opposing denial of marriage rights initiatives has beneficial psychological effects,” and “Psychologists have colleagues and we have clients for whom this issue is relevant and important, and who appreciate representation. From a social justice perspective, significant benefits accrue to all of us when diverse families are legally and socially sanctioned.”

Still, the chances of achieving marriage equality in North Carolina ahead of an amendment on the May 8 primary ballot, which would restrict the state’s recognition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman and place more restrictions on civil unions and domestic partnerships, remain uncertain. “From a biblical position, all I can do is state my position: I believe that homosexuality is a sin,” Rev. Mark Harris, senior minister at Charlotte’s First Baptist Church who was recently elected to a yearlong term as president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, tells the Charlotte Observer. “That said, I don’t believe that that position is at the heart of this amendment. If homosexuals choose to maintain a relationship and live together, that’s their business. I don’t believe people should be discriminated against.”

He went on to note that same-sex marriages aren’t good for children: “I just believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ideal. It is such a unique union, and it is absolutely essential to the future of humanity.”

Breast-feeding women take on Target

‘Nurse-in’ supports public breastfeeding

By Nick Valencia, CNN
updated 10:28 PM EST, Wed December 28, 2011
Several women from Wilmington, North Carolina, take part in a national protest Wednesday after a mother in Houston was recently told to stop breastfeeding in a Target store.
(CNN) — A mother who says she was harassed and humiliated by employees while breastfeeding her baby at a Target store in Texas last month prompted a nationwide “nurse-in” on Wednesday to show support for the public practice.

Michelle Hickman, 35, says she was nursing her 5-month-old infant at a Webster Target when several employees asked her to move to the fitting room.

Texas law allows for breastfeeding in private or public, but Hickman says the employees continued to direct her to the dressing room even after she mentioned her rights.

“I was sitting down in the store in a remote area,” Hickman told CNN anchor Isha Sesay on Wednesday. “Not a single person came by that was a customer and I was completely covered with a large blanket. So I don’t see how they find it that offensive.”

Target said it has a longstanding policy of supporting breastfeeding in its stores.

“Guests who choose to breastfeed in public areas of the store are welcome to do so without being made to feel uncomfortable,” Target spokeswoman Jessica Carlson told CNN.

“Additionally, we support the use of fitting rooms for women who wish to breastfeed their babies, even if others are waiting to use the fitting rooms,” her statement read.

“We continually educate our team members in stores across the country on store policies to ensure all guests have a great experience. We worked with this guest directly to address her concerns and are sorry any inconvenience it has caused,” Carlson said.

In a show of solidarity with Hickman, women from Kansas to North Carolina to Florida held “nurse-ins” at Target stores.

In Wilmington, North Carolina, more than a dozen women sat comfortably on the ground with their legs crossed while nursing their babies, most of whom were covered by wraps or blankets. Similar scenes played out at Target stores in Sarasota, Florida; Wichita, Kansas; and Houston.

“Things like this are really wonderful because it takes a lot of mother-to-mother support and even though none of us know the mother in Texas, it’s just a matter of everyone pulling together and saying, it is OK, don’t feel bad about it,” Emily Barnhill, mother of an 18-month-old boy, told CNN Wilmington affiliate WECT.

A Facebook page created to show support for Hickman called “Target Nurse-In” had nearly 7,000 members by late Wednesday.

“Let’s show them just how many mamas they’ve offended. We have the right to shop and meet our babies’ needs while doing so,” the Facebook pages “about me” section said. “Public humiliation for doing so will not be tolerated,” it added.

Earlier this year, a Utah woman breastfeeding in a Whole Foods sparked a nationwide “nurse-in” after she said she was asked by employees to move locations. In early December, a nursing mother in Brighton, United Kingdom, invited a nursing “flash mob” to join her after she was told to stop nursing her baby in a cafe.

Unions Sitting Out of the 2012 DNC

Aug 12, 3:12 PM EDT

APNewsBreak: Some unions to skip 2012 convention

By SAM HANANEL, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — About a dozen trade unions plan to sit out the 2012 Democratic convention because they’re angry that it’s being held in a right-to-work state and frustrated that Democrats haven’t done enough to create jobs.

The move could pose a larger problem for President Barack Obama next year if an increasingly dispirited base of labor activists becomes so discouraged that it doesn’t get the rank-and-file to the polls in the usual strong numbers.

The unions – all part of the AFL-CIO’s building and construction trades unit – told party officials this week they are gravely disappointed that labor was not consulted before Democrats settled on Charlotte, N.C., where there are no unionized hotels.

“We find it troubling that the party so closely associated with basic human rights would choose a state with the lowest unionization rate in the country due to regressive policies aimed at diluting the power of workers,” Mark Ayers, president of the building trades unit, wrote in a letter to Democratic Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The decision by the building trades came after a vote by leaders of the unit’s 13 affiliate unions, including the Laborers, Painters and Electrical Workers unions. Overall, they represent about 2.5 million members.

“There is broad frustration with the party and all elected officials, broad frustration with the lack of a union agenda,” said Michael Monroe, chief of staff of the building trades division. “People are looking for outlets to express that frustration.”

DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell said the organizers “look forward to working with labor leaders from across the country to make the convention a success.”

“We were thrilled to have the support of local labor leaders including the (state) AFL-CIO for Charlotte’s bid,” Roussell said.

Despite the strong language in the letter, at least one of the 13 unions says it is still considering whether or not to go.

“The Teamsters Union has not gone through our own internal decision process about the Democratic National Convention,” said spokeswoman Leigh Strope.

Monroe said the decision doesn’t preclude individual members of the unions from running as delegates, and some of the unions apparently are still considering how to proceed.

Many of the largest and most prominent unions, including the National Education Association and the Service Employees International Union, still plan to be active participants in the convention. And local labor leaders in North Carolina have praised the site choice.

But the angst goes beyond the trade unions. The International Association of Machinists, which is not part of the building trades, said it has also decided to skip the convention after participating for decades.

“This is the union that came up with the idea for Labor Day and this convention starts on Labor Day in a right-to-work state,” said IAM spokesman Rick Sloan. “We see that as an affront to working men and women across this country.”

Monroe said the unions are being careful not to use the term “boycott” because they don’t want to damage Obama’s re-election prospects. He said money is also a major factor, when unions are spending millions trying to beat back efforts by Republican lawmakers to curb union rights in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states.

“It would be disappointing to our members to see us doing business as usual, diverting resources that we know are scarce, when we should be laser-like focused on getting elected officials focused on the jobs agenda,” Monroe said.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka warned earlier this year that unions would focus more of their energy and money on shoring up infrastructure in the states and less on boosting a single political party.

In the past unions have donated millions of dollars for sky boxes and other sponsorships that usually help underwrite the convention. But this year, the Democratic National Convention Committee announced it would no longer accept contributions from lobbyists, corporations and political action committees, including unions. Individuals are limited to $100,000 in donations.

The choice of North Carolina in February provoked immediate outrage among labor leaders, who said it was another indication that Democrats take union support for granted. But Democrats defended the decision, saying it’s part of party’s push to win crucial swing states in the South, including a state that Obama carried in 2008.

Organized labor and Democrats had a similar squabble over the choice of Denver for the 2008 convention. That gathering was held at the nonunion Pepsi Center and Denver had few unionized hotels. At one point, Teamsters President James Hoffa threatened to “blow up” the convention with picketing and protests if union issues were not worked out.

But the two sides ultimately struck a deal to staff the Pepsi Center with union employees.

“The state Senate voted 29-19 to cancel Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a bill that seeks to limit abortions.”


NC Senate overrides veto of abortion restrictions

By Rebekah Dryden, The Maddow Blog
Thu Jul 28, 2011 1:12 PM EDT


On last night’s show, Chris Fitzsimon from NC Policy Watch told TRMS guest host extraordinaire Melissa Harris-Perry that the only thing standing in the way of extreme abortion restrictions busting free of Democratic Governor Bev Perdue’s veto stamp in North Carolina was a single Republican state senator.

This senator had voted against the measure the first time around. Then Governor Perdue vetoed the bill, the House overrode the veto and the Senate was about to hold its own override vote. The Republican in question hadn’t announced, as of last night, whether he’d vote against the restrictions again — in other words vote to uphold the veto — or whether he’d sit out the vote entirely. Sitting out the vote would mean the veto would be overridden and the new abortion restrictions (24-hour waiting period, state-mandated scripted counseling, sonograms, etc.) would stand.

And today, that’s what happened in the North Carolina Senate. From the Raleigh News & Observer:

The state Senate voted 29-19 to cancel Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a bill that seeks to limit abortions. … Sen. Stan Bingham, a Republican who voted against the bill in June, left the building before the override vote.