(Is that reference too old?)
I wish I were accustomed to outright bigots in government by now. It’s common enough, after all. But every once in a while, someone repeats a slur so openly that it surprises even me.
The Mecklenburg County (North Carolina) Commission held their regular meeting Tuesday night. On the agenda was a proposal to provide same-sex domestic partner benefits to county employees. The issue ultimately passed by a vote of 6-3 along party lines, but it’s what came during debate that has caused a stir. Here’s video from local News 14.
“To think about the son that I birthed, that died of AIDS, and I did not know that in 2010 I would be sitting here to defend that process, and his lifestyle,â€ said Commissioner Vilma Leake. â€œSo I stand gloriously to vote for this issue.â€
While some in the crowd applauded, [Commissioner Bill James] can be heard saying to Leake: “Your son was a homo? Really?”
To which Leake responded: “You’re going to make me hurt you. Don’t do that to me. Don’t talk about my son.”
Bill James was later pressed for comment by the Charlotte, NC Fox affiliate. Here’s their report with additional comments from Mr. James on a sympathetic radio program. It was there that he claimed he was interrupted in the middle of the word “homosexual”. After hearing the clip proving he was lying, he changed his defense and said that “homo” isn’t a slur.
Obviously Mr. James is allowed to use the word “homo” all he wants. I actually disagree with those (with the exception of Ms. Leake) who are calling for an apology. I’d rather get this man on the record and reveal him for who he is. Forced apologies and fake contrition are meaningless.
But there’s no need to worry about an apology anytime soon. Mr. James released this statement today via email. (He still won’t go on camera. That could be troublesome come campaign season.)
Vilma is a religious hypocrite.
She was married to a Bishop in the AME Zion church. A church that has historically opposed homosexuality.
She used her son’s ‘lifestyle’ and his death from HIV-AIDS to justify in public voting for benefits to allow more individuals to use tax dollars to engage in the very behavior that resulted in her son’s death.
It is akin to someone whose son is an alcoholic and died from the disease, using his death from drinking as justification to have the taxpayers pay for more booze.
Her position was that her ‘faith’ demanded that she do this to support her son and his ‘lifestyle’ which she acknowledges killed him.
Since she didn’t define what ‘lifestyle’ she was referring to I asked her. Asking the question is completely legitimate since she used him as the basis for explaining her public vote.
Her response to me was threaten violence. This is also nothing new for Vilma as she did that on the School Board as well.
Leake: “Don’t make me hurt you. Don’t do that to me. Don’t talk to me about my son.”
Well, with all due respect to Ms. Leake – if she didn’t want to talk about her son then why did she use his death from his ‘lifestyle’ contracting HIV/AIDS as the public justification for spending tax dollars to support the very behavior that killed her son. (sic)
I can type but I have lost my voice. Feel free to use this in your story.
Helpful ordered list of responses:
- He fools no one by trying to change the subject. The problem wasn’t his question, it was the use of a slur in doing so. It’s the same as if he’d asked her if her son was a n**ger. Obviously.
- You can’t contract HIV/AIDS from being gay. You can contract HIV/AIDS from having sex. Tuesday’s vote was about the former, not the latter.
- The issue wasn’t to “allow more individuals to use tax dollars to engage in the very behavior”. It was to provide health insurance to domestic partners. Just like is done near-universally for straight couples.
- Ms. Leake wasn’t “justifying” her vote, she was explaining why this is more personal for her.
- Ms. Leake should be applauded for understanding both the separation of her religious beliefs from her civic duty and the words of Jesus the Christ.
- Drop the victim routine. When you use a slur like that against someone’s dead child, you deserve what’s coming.
Incidentally, this isn’t the first time Mr. James’ bigotry has been in the news. While he’s focused on the “homos” for quite some time (see Pam’s House Blend), he’s also been in hot water for calling the urban black community “a moral sewer”.
Ms. Leake, my sympathies on your son’s death, and my thanks for standing gloriously beside us in the fight for equality.