Winston-Salem pastor urges Democrats to vote against marriage amendment

Rev. Paul Lowe re: marriage amendment from Jordan Green2 on Vimeo.

UPDATE: Rep. Earline Parmon provided additional detail about the Republican campaign to persuade her to support the marriage amendment. She said in an interview that at the time the Republicans were attempting to marshal the votes to pass legislation to put the initiative on the ballot, those behind the effort purchased airtime on radio and television urging constituents to call a 1-800 number that forwarded to her home phone. She added that someone told her that about $100,000 was spent in four or five markets across the state to target African-American lawmakers.

Parmon said the decision to not support the legislation was not one she took lightly.

"I did weigh it carefully and after much thought looking into it and dealing with my own morals and values, the politicization of the issue is what let me know that I could not support it," she said.

"It was so many convoluted and it was so political that it didn’t even make sense to do it," she continued. "When you look at civil rights and human rights it’s against the law already for same-sex marriage. I also listened to people who said when we are dealing with the constitution we should really think about what we should put into the constitution, and discrimination is not something we should put in."

Parmon noted that the issue might have been expected create a wedge.

"Generally black Democrats are more morally and socially conservative," she said. "I think this was a smoke screen that was put out there to divide Democrats, black and white. But when all is said and done, it is discrimination."

ORIGINAL POST: A prominent Winston-Salem pastor charged today that the marriage amendment is a “device” to divide black voters, while a longtime state lawmaker said Republicans courted her and Rep. Larry Womble to try to obtain their support to put the initiative on the ballot.

The Rev. Paul Lowe, pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church, asked members of the audience at a Democratic “meet the candidates” event at the church today to vote against the amendment, which will appear on the primary ballot on May 8.

“I believe personally that this is a device that is being used to divide us,” Lowe said. “And certainly we as Democrats do not need to be divided on this particular amendment. It’s already illegal for couples of the same sex to get married in North Carolina at this time. Let’s do not put this on our plate at this time. Let’s deal with the issues at hand. We’re concerned about seniors. We’re concerned about children. We’re concerned about all Americans being treated fairly.”

The audience at the Democratic event was predominantly African American, but also included a large number of whites, reflecting the demographic makeup of the Democratic-leaning state legislative districts in Forsyth County.

Rep. Earline Parmon, who currently represents NC House District 72 and is running for NC Senate District 32, said she was “targeted by Republican dollars” for her stance on “women, civil and human rights.”

“They spent approximately $100,000 in this county trying to influence me to vote… for the proposition of Amendment One,” Parmon said. “In the middle of the night, they called me and Rep. Womble into a meeting to proposition us. When I refused their offer I became their target. And that’s okay. I’m a big girl. And I can stand up to that.”

Parmon did not explain how the GOP spent money targeting her. (I left an phone message for her after the event seeking clarification.)

Ed Hanes Jr., who is seeking to replace Parmon in District 72, renewed a call for Democratic voters to reject the marriage amendment, which is also known as Amendment One.

“Why can’t we stand against discrimination, against writing discrimination into our state constitution?” he asked. “Amendment One – it doesn’t just discriminate against individuals; it discriminates against families. Folks, it is a wedge issue that was put in place to divide our community, to divide our churches, to create another Ohio 2004 situation that resulted in a divided African-American community that resulted in George W. Bush getting four more years in office. It’s an amendment put in place to ensure that we stay not focused on what our ultimate goal needs to be, and that is ensuring that our president, Barack Hussein Obama, is reelected this year.”

(Previously: 1, 2)


Earline Parmon, NC Senate District 32 candidate:

“I’m running because this is one of the most crucial elections that we’ve faced in a long time. As you know, Rep. Womble had initially decided to run for Senate, and after his accident he had to reconsider. And after much discussion and deliberation we talked about how it would impact Forsyth County not to have an experienced policymaker in Raleigh. I decided to not run for District 72 and run for the Senate. As you know, with the redistricting the Senate the present majority double-bunked women, threw women out of their seats, and so it’s a very large and difficult district, but I’m up to the task. But the reason I say this election is very critical for Forsyth County is, we are one of the few counties that could possibly have five new representatives. And what does that mean for Forsyth County? It will mean that we will have representatives, but not necessarily representation. And why do I say that? Because there is an institutional and systemic process in place that determines what happens and how much you get to participate in decision-making. With new representatives we will be low on the totem pole.”

“We passed the ‘castle doctrine law’ in this last session, the same thing as ‘stand your ground.’ They picked up pieces of the Georgia and Florida law and simply placed it in legislation, and it became North Carolina law. I fought vigorously against that law. I spoke out against that law. And I will continue to do so. But you must have standing to be able to make a difference. Currently the voter ID bill is number-one priority for [the Republicans] to overturn the governor’s veto. And I tell you people: If you are not aware of how different things can happen in the twinkling of an eye, if you are not knowledgeable of how it can go into a subcommittee a chicken and come out a frog – I’m serious. A bill can go in one way and they can put it in a subcommittee and it’s totally different. You need experience there to make sure at least you can have good information and you’re gonna have someone to stand up for that.”

James Taylor Jr., NC Senate District 32 candidate:

“This particular race is being framed around the term ‘experience.’ … We voted for President Barack Obama not because he was the most experience legislator or the most experienced person in Washington, DC, but because we thought he was the candidate who could take us from the days of yesterday to the days of tomorrow. If we wanted the most experienced candidate, everyone in this room would have went with John McCain. But we didn’t go with John McCain because you wanted a fresh voice.”

“We need to fill jobs in our community and there are four ways that we can do that in my first four years in office. First of all, we’ll focus on reducing our dependency on foreign oil and foreign fuels. We’ll focus on conversion from fuel to natural gas, to electricity, to hybrid. We were able to pull it off in the city council. I went to Washington, DC. I had a meeting with one of our US senators. We talked this thing over. If we are able to reduce our costs and switch over to electricity, natural gas, we can reduce two thirds of the cost. That two thirds of the cost that we’re saving can go towards the highway trust fund. It can go towards the highway fund to create jobs for roadway projects in our communities.

“Secondly, we come up with a concept we call ‘pathways to employment.’ We want to make sure we’re putting people to work. The unemployment rate, we talked about that. But I tell you: North Carolina is on the verge of owing $3 billion to the federal government. We have to find a way to reduce our unemployment insurance fund. We’ll do it through ‘pathways to employment.’ We’ll take a look at putting the underemployed, the chronically unemployed and our seniors back to work. We’ll do it by putting our recently graduated back to work. And we’ll come up with a six-to-eight-week program where we look at the pilot payments. And if you’re not familiar with pilot payments, that means payments in lieu of taxes. You have local entities who pay payments in lieu of taxes. You take a small portion of that and those people who employers seem to think can’t get the job done we allow them to go through a paid internship program where when they got the opportunity to prove themselves to employers if they get employed we’re reducing the unemployment insurance fund. If they do not get employed what we’re doing is we’re allowing them to build their resumes and become more effective for the future.

“We all know that in North Carolina if you go to Wal-Mart, anywhere, you see ‘made in China,’ ‘made in Japan.’ We want to have a ‘North Carolina made’ program where I would pay 10, 15 cents more for a particular product if I knew it was made in North Carolina. We want to make sure we are establishing our companies, not only in the region, not only in the world, but in the state of North Carolina we have good jobs, we have good companies who make good products. When we do that, we retain our existing jobs. We also make sure we’re bringing more jobs to Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

“Now, the last thing is the investment in the life sciences. Somebody mentioned earlier that about promoting the life sciences. It’s important that we do that. Biotechnology in the state of North Carolina has created… 500 companies and well over 220,000 jobs. We have to continue our allocation for the life sciences.”

Wilbert Banks, NC Senate District 32 candidate:

“We are subsidizing the oil companies [by] $4 billion a year. So you’re not really paying $4 a gallon. You’re paying more like $6 a gallon. I would introduce a bill to stop the subsidizing because we don’t need to do that. Beyond that, I would introduce a bill to roll back some of the taxes. Let’s say we rolled back 50 cents and you have $3.50 a gallon. Are you satisfied with that? Probably not. Okay. Maybe we can find somehow to go back another 30 cents. That’s puts you at $3.20 a gallon. Are you satisfied with that? I wouldn’t be. Now people, this is where you all come into the picture because you have more power than you think you do. If you remember the example, the credit card companies tried to charge us excess fees for using the credit cards. You got together and said, ‘No, we’re not going to do this.’ Those companies are supposed to be bigger than you are. Are they? No. You told them: ‘We’re not going to pay these fees regardless to what.’ And the companies backed down.”

Everette Witherspoon, NC House District 71 candidate:

“One person in particular invited me to the hospital and he told me that I better run. The person’s name was state Rep. Larry Womble. And he told me: ‘When you get into Raleigh you better do three things. You better speak up. You better stand up. And if necessary, you better act up.’ That’s what I plan to do.”

Evelyn Terry, NC House District 71 candidate:

“I have a stellar reputation for in this community for community service. I am not running for self; I am running for service. When you provided service to multiple citizens throughout your tenure, then the idea of being able to serve in the state legislature is just one more step toward being a servant of the people.”

Elisabeth Motsinger, 5th Congressional District candidate:

“My opponent, Ms. [Virginia] Foxx, has a war chest of $1.5 million before she’s begun. I’m not going to be able to match that. I’m not going to be able to be another Goliath to that Goliath. My interest is in being as good a David as I possibly can up against Ms. Foxx.”

“I believe that we have to have an economy that’s fair for all people. And right now we don’t have that economy. Right now, half of all citizens – all of the citizens of the United States – are either low income or poverty. That’s not an equitable economy at all. We have to support education – in particular, public education because public education is the one way that all people get an opportunity to become successful, and to become involved, engaged citizens.”

Dr. Bruce Peller, 5th Congressional District candidate:

“In my fifties I married a powerful Hispanic woman who is beautiful and wonderful in many ways. But the fact is – she’s a dentist – she experiences ethnic discrimination on a regular basis. And so, in turn, my own passions have evolved and I will fight for the DREAM Act and I will stand against the marriage amendment.

“I stand before you today unexpectedly fighting for my own dignity because of my gender. My opponent, Elisabeth Motsinger, has chosen to build a central thesis of her candidacy around her gender. She keeps repeating in this race against Virginia Foxx it is highly unlikely male can challenge her successfully and that’s it’s a woman’s turn. My name is Bruce Gary Peller, and today I’m going to tell you why I believe that I’m the person you want to send to run against Virginia Foxx in November. Within the Democratic Party, as it should be everywhere, our principles charge us with responsibility to judge our candidates as human beings. I judge people by the content of their hearts, not their religion, the color of their skin, their country of origin or their gender.”

Photos by Cheryl Green

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