Tit For Tat

North Carolina Senate Republicans Try Holding Anti-Bullying Bill Hostage


Republican North Carolina State Sen. Eddie Goodall has created a Sophie’s Choice for gays: We can work toward anti-bullying measures for queer students, or we can allow legislators to try to knock down any possibility for same-sex marriage. Huh?

While debating the anti-bullying School Violence Prevention Act, Sen. Goodall (pictured) told his peers: “I agree, that bullying gays and lesbians in high school is a serious problem … but the issue of the marriage amendment in our state constitution and the failure to even get it passed or heard has muddied your bill, Sen. Boseman.”

Democratic Sen. Julia Boseman sponsored the anti-bullying bill, and is now facing criticism from folks like Goodall and Republican Sen. James Forrester, who’s sponsoring a marriage amendment that would add a “no same-sex marriage” clause to the state constitution. (Forrester worried the anti-bullying bill would require students to learn about “homosexuality, cross-dressing and other alternative sexual behaviors.” The same way biology class makes us learn about “evolution, natural selection, and how Creationism is bunk.”)

But Democratic senators don’t want to hear about the marriage amendment bill, and have acted to keep it from hitting the full chamber. Goodall says the two moves — keeping the marriage bill from being debated, and pushing the anti-bullying bill — are intertwined. “I can’t vote for the bill,” he says. “I wish we could do something other than identify groups, but I think we have some work to go in North Carolina and that does include looking at putting marriage before voters in our state and I feel like this would clear up a lot of issues like this.”

It didn’t end there. Q-Notes:

In a telephone conversation with Q-Notes, Goodall said he doesn’t think a person has to be opposed to protecting gay and lesbian students to also be in favor of the marriage amendment.

“I think we can have a marriage referendum in North Carolina and also we can acknowledge that bullying gays is not going to be tolerated,” he said. “I was just trying to point out that these positions have been so polarized so much in the last two years, that the bill we probably had before us today is not what a large portion of the population thinks it was.”

Goodall said he believes it is possible to protect students by enforcing existing policies. “We need to educate children about coming forth with these complaints. We need to tell them they don’t have to be bullied, that they have a right not to be.”

Goodall said he voted against the anti-bullying bill solely due to public perception. He reiterated his support for an anti-gay marriage amendment, but also said he was “very much in favor of stopping bullying of gays and lesbians.”

Oh, but did we mention New Hampshire’s Senate passed the bill 25-22 on a second reading? It needs a third “yes” vote before it goes to the House.