Sexual Orientation Gets House Approval
Special Report - June 24, 2009
Yesterday afternoon, House Speaker Joe Hackney cast the deciding vote as the North Carolina House voted 58 to 57 in favor of passing SB 526School Violence Prevention Act on its third reading. The previous day the bill passed 2nd reading by a vote of 59 to 57. “There were some musical chairs being played today,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “There were a number of members that we talked with who said they did not want this bill with “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in the language, but enough of them fell on their swords for the Speaker to get the bill passed. Although Republicans voted against the bill because of the inclusion of these enumerations, several Democrats swapped positions on the vote tally sheet, but not enough to make a difference."
Debate on third reading was much shorter than the day before. At the bill’s second reading, the House debated for approximately 90 minutes, mainly about inclusion of enumerated classes which include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Several members pointed out that these were terms that were undefined in the bill or anywhere else in State statutes.
Representatives in favor of the bill reiterated that the sole purpose of the bill was to protect children from bullying. Opponents of the bill argued that the bill was not actually about bullying, but about the enumerated classes, and that the bill would inappropriately use a policy addressing the safety of children in schools to promote an agenda that a majority of North Carolinians oppose. Other reasons given for voting against the bill included a lack of consequences for teachers and administrators who fail to prevent bullying, a focus on the characteristics of the victims and not on the bullies, and the counterproductive nature of enumerated classes if its purpose was to protect “all children.”
In addition, Republican Leader, Paul Stam (R-Wake), objected to the 27-line title of the bill that was put in by the Senate to prevent an amendment to remove the enumerations clause on the House floor. A motion to have the bill sent back to the Education Committee to amend the title and content of the bill had failed by a 5957 vote during second reading.
During third reading, amendments were attempted, which included adding a definition for “sexual orientation.” and stipulating punishments for bullies as well as for teachers and administrators who fail to regulate bullying. None of the proposed amendments were approved, either being ruled out of order or voted down.
The bill, which first passed in the Senate, is very similar to legislation which had been passed by the House in the 2007-2008 session.
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.