Last edited: February 14, 2005

Gay Advocates Get Hearing In Senate Committee

Associated Press, May 11, 1999

By Dennis Patterson, Associated Press Writer

RALEIGH - Gay rights advocates got a hearing before a Senate judiciary committee Tuesday, even though their bill to rewrite the crime-against-nature statute could not be approved this year.

"Would this legalize homosexuality?" Sen. Jim Forrester, R-Gaston, asked Deborah Ross of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"It would legalize homosexual acts between consenting adults, done in private, not for hire," Ross responded.

"Sounds like ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ to me," said Sen. Frank Ballance, D-Warren. "Sounds pretty good."

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, would rewrite the crimes-against-nature statute, which applies to anal and oral sex, even between married couples.

"This is an antiquated statute used to discriminate ... against gay people," Kinnaird told the Senate Judiciary II Committee. ‘‘It is the main tool those who wish to discriminate against gays use."

"This law was designed from the beginning to deny full civil rights to gay and lesbian persons," said the Rev. Jimmy Creech.

Creech was removed from Methodist churches in Raleigh and Nebraska for his position on gay rights.

Sen. Brad Miller, D-Wake, devoted the hourlong committee meeting to the bill, even though it could not be approved under legislative rules. Several senators left.

Since the measure does not affect state spending, it had to clear the Senate by the crossover deadline two weeks ago to be considered this year.

"The proponents of the bill understood there was no realistic probability this bill would pass," Miller said after the committee meeting. "They just wanted a chance to discuss the bill.

"It would be pretty difficult to believe this bill would pass after the House defeated the hate crimes bill."

The House last month killed a bill that would have expanded North Carolina’s hate crimes statute to cover sexual orientation and other factors.

Asked if he would allow proponents of a bill he did not support to use his committee for a platform, Miller said, "Yeah, I can imagine doing that."

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