A coalition of right-wing extremists is peddling the myth that an LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance in Charlotte, NC, is a threat to public safety. That myth has dominated media coverage of the ordinance, and GOP legislators are now trying to roll back LGBT protections across the state.
On February 22, the Charlotte City Council voted to expand the city's existing nondiscrimination ordinance to protect LGBT people from discrimination in public accommodations, in taxis, and with government contractors. But on March 23, state lawmakers gathered in Raleigh for a $42,000-a-day special session of the General Assembly to overturn Charlotte's ordinance. They're considering sweeping legislation that would eliminate local nondiscrimination ordinances and ban transgender people, including public school students, from using restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
Opponents of Charlotte's ordinance argue that protections for transgender people amount to an “imminent threat to public safety” because male sexual predators will pretend to be transgender in order to sneak into women's bathrooms and commit sexual assault. This so-called “bathroom predator” myth has been widely debunked by experts including law enforcement officials and victims' rights advocates in localities with similar laws on the books.
Here's what media outlets should know about the activists spreading anti-LGBT misinformation in North Carolina:
- Executive director of Raleigh based North Carolina Values Coalition (NC Values)
- Called a law protecting LGBT students from bullying a "radical homosexual rights bill"
- Has compared gay marriage to incest and marrying a child
NC Values Coalition executive director Tami Fitzgerald is a longtime opponent of LGBT equality in North Carolina, having spearheaded the state's 2012 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. NC Values is the driving force behind the KeepNCSafe Coalition and North Carolina media have frequently turned to Fitzgerald as a spokesperson for the movement.
While fighting against marriage equality in North Carolina, Fitzgerald compared gay marriage to incest and marrying a child, writing that “there is no right to marry someone of the same sex, just as there is no right to marry your sister, [or] to marry someone who is under 14 years old.” Fitzgerald has opposed adoption rights for same-sex parents, arguing that gay couples can “use the child as a 'trophy' of the relationship and its social status.” She also decried called a 2009 law protecting LGBT students from bullying, calling it a “radical homosexual rights bill” that poses an “urgent threat.”
Fitzgerald is also an allied attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, an extreme right-wing legal group that is leading the national fight against transgender student rights and has worked internationally to criminalize gay sex.
- Spokesperson for both NC Values Coalition and KeepNCSafe Coalition
- Has worked on North Carolina anti-LGBT campaigns since 2012
- Called gay adoptive parents an “anti-reality”
As the spokesperson for both NC Values and the KeepNCSafe Coalition, Kami Mueller has made multiple media appearances arguing against the ordinance. In a 2012 report for NC Family Policy Institute, Mueller compared Hollywood's inclusion of diverse families to boiling a live frog, writing that “extreme” TV shows like Modern Family are part of a “frog media stew.” In the same report Mueller called gay adoptive parents an “anti-reality” that is “scarily rampant.”
Mueller has previously worked with Tami Fitzgerald on the Vote FOR Marriage NC campaign, and as communications manager for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. NC Family Policy Council is the state affiliate of the Family Research Council (FRC), which has been designated an anti-gay “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2010 due to its propagation of known falsehoods about LGBT people.
- President of the FIRE School of Ministry based in Concord, NC and director of the Charlotte area “Coalition for Conscience”
- Defended Uganda's extreme anti-gay law -- which criminalizes gay sex, with life as prison as the penalty -- as a means to combat HIV/AIDS
- Called being transgender "social madness" in opposition to the nondiscrimination ordinance
Michael Brown is a well known anti-LGBT activist based in Charlotte, and a prominent opponent of the nondiscrimination ordinance. Brown spoke about the “madness” of being transgender at the “Don't Do It Charlotte” rally against the ordinance in February. He has written extensively the ordinance, including a lengthy letter featured on the KeepNCSafe website that argues among other claims that the ordinance will cause Charlotte children to “be subject to social chaos in their schools.”
Brown has a history of making apocalyptic predictions about LGBT equality, including claiming that gay acceptance and the TV show Game Of Thrones are creating a “slippery slope” to incest and that allowing gay Boy Scout leaders “opens the door for sexual predators.” He is also the author of several anti-LGBT books, the latest of which, Outlasting the Gay Revolution, argues that a society that accepts marriage equality “cannot survive.”
- President of NC Family Policy Institute, which is the state affiliate of the anti-gay “hate group” Family Research Council, as designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center
- Co-authored article claiming “homosexual relations” are inherently harmful
- Called the Supreme Court's marriage equality decision a "war" on children
John Rustin is the president of the North Carolina Family Policy Institute (NC Family), and frequently represents his group in media appearances opposing the nondiscrimination ordinance. NC Family is a state affiliate of the Family Research Council, a national organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center designated an anti-gay “hate group” due to its propagation of known falsehoods about LGBT people. In an article co-authored with an FRC official, Rustin peddled junk science to claim that “homosexual relations” are inherently harmful and “impose substantial costs on society.”
A longtime opponent of marriage equality, Rustin called the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage a "war" on children. In 2001, Rustin opposed lawmakers' move to overturn North Carolina's anti-sodomy law, calling it “an attempt by promoters of the homosexual lifestyle to get a foothold in state law for their behavior.”