Brunstetters tight lipped on racialized marriage amendment remark

The exact meaning of reported remarks by the wife of a state senator relating the marriage amendment to race remains unclear three days after an exchange between the woman and an anti-amendment poll worker outside of an early-voting site in downtown Winston-Salem.

Kate Maloy, a Winston-Salem resident, told YES! Weekly that Jodie Brunstetter approached her and engaged her in conversation when Maloy showed up at the plaza in front of the Forsyth County Government Center to campaign against the amendment. Brunstetter had been campaigning for the amendment over the past few days.

It quickly became clear that the two were on opposite sides of the issue, Maloy said, but the discussion remained respectful. After a period, Maloy said, she tried to disengage so she could accomplish her purpose — talking to voters.

“It was during or after my first attempt to separate from her that she made this statement about ‘the Caucasian race is diminishing,’” Maloy said. “I said, ‘Why is this such a big issue?’ She said, the country had been founded by white people, and she had a long speech about the reason other people want to come to this country because of everything it was founded on.”  

Maloy said she mentioned that slavery was also part of the founding of the country, but that Brunstetter did not respond. “I said, ‘Are you afraid of these reports that before too long black and brown people are going to be the majority?’ And she said, ‘Oh, they already are.’” 

In fact, non-whites currently comprise only 27.6 percent of the US population and 31.5 percent of the North Carolina population. 

Neither Jodie Brunstetter nor her husband, NC Sen. Peter Brunstetter, responded to repeated messages from YES! Weekly requesting comment and clarification. The Winston-Salem Journal reported on Wednesday that Jodie Brunstetter wouldn’t comment on her reported use of the word “Caucasian” in the context of the marriage amendment. 

Videographer Chad Nance attempted to confirm or clarify Brunstetter’s reported remark to Maloy by interviewing her on video. Nance has spent a significant amount of time at the county building since early voting opened on April 19 volunteering as a poll worker for NC House District 72 candidate Ed Hanes Jr. and campaigning against the marriage amendment. Nance also helped expose the Forsyth Leadership PAC, a committee that is promoting a slate of Democratic candidates, sometimes through deceptive and illegal tactics. 

It was one of the PAC’s paid poll workers who alerted Nance to Brunstetter’s alleged comment. Nance interviewed the Forsyth Leadership PAC poll worker, known only as Michael, and Maloy before approaching Brunstetter. 

Early in the interview Brunstetter can be heard audibly noting that Nance is recording the conversation. Throughout the interview, Nance comes across as polite but persistent in his questioning. At one point, Nance and an unidentified woman on the scene offered to buy Brunstetter a bottle of water when she said she had been campaigning since 8 a.m. 

Responding to a question from Nance about whether she had said “anything about Caucasians” during her conversation with Maloy, Brunstetter responded, “I probably said the word.” 

Earlier in the interview, Brunstetter had recounted, “We’re talking about the fact that the history of the United States and how it is already a law what marriage is. And we’re looking at the fact that the United States has been a great country. That’s why people are coming here. And the people who founded the United States wrote a Constitution. And it has been what has preserved this society.” 

Later, when Nance returned to the question of whether she mentioned Caucasians, Brunstetter responded, “If I did, it wasn’t anything race related.” 

As the interview wound down, Brunstetter expressed concern about her words being “misconstrued,” and indicated physical discomfort. 

“Right now, I think I’m a little — I have some heat stroke going on,” Brunstetter said. “I’m not quite sure now. There’s been lots of confusion.” 

In an interview yesterday, Maloy said she did not hear Jodie Brunstetter ascribe preservation of the Caucasian race as her husband’s motivation for sponsoring a bill to place the marriage amendment on the ballot, as has been reported in this and other media outlets.

YES! Weekly broke the story on Tuesday evening. National opinion media outlets such as Huffington Post and the DailyKos blog picked the story up the following day, along with the Winston-Salem Journal

In Nance’s video interview, the poll worker identified as Michael quotes Brunstetter as saying, “The reason my husband wrote the Amendment One is because the Caucasian race is diminishing, and we need to reproduce.” 

Maloy confirmed that Michael witnessed the conversation, but said his account does not accurately reflect what Brunstetter said. 

Brunstetter’s reported remarks drew condemnation from NC NAACP President William J. Barber II on Wednesday. 

“The alleged comments by the supporter of Amendment One would be less concerning if they did not fit as a piece of the cynical puzzle of race-based political agendas and money found in the forces and rationales behind the discriminatory amendment,” Barber said in a prepared statement. “The reality is that the extreme right-wing forces behind the amendment are the same people waging a public policy campaign against African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, the poor and other minorities. Therefore, the alleged comments and the well documented rational represented in them are not surprising. They only serve to help connect the dots between a regressive, race-based strategy to pass Amendment One and the larger attack on the rights of minorities for the purpose of maintaining power in the hands of the few.”

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