Civil Liberties

Perhaps because of the large number of outspoken and thoughtful people in our community, we have often found ourselves at ground zero in battles over civil liberties. In the 1980's Chapel Hill elected the first openly-gay elected official in the state, but Carrboro bested that by electing North Carolina’s first out mayor a decade later.

More recently, Chapel Hill grappled with free speech issues in the wake of 9/11, approved and then dismantled red light cameras in 2003-4, and was challenged by fundamentalists over support for gay marriage in 2005.

NC and abortion

By a vote of 29-19, the NC Senate overrode the governor's veto of HB 854, the anti-woman bill which imposes significant limitations on the availability of abortions and makes numerous intrusions in the doctor-patient relationship. A 3/5 vote was necessary to override, and the 29-19 margin just made it.

But wait, aren't there 50 members of the NC Senate? And didn't 20 members of the Senate vote against the bill when it came to vote, meaning it shouldn't have passed? You would be right. Senator Stan Bingham, Republican who represents Davidson and Guilford counties, was the only Republican to vote against the bill when it was originally passed and continued to oppose it up until yesterday. However, in an event which will go down in history as one of the most cowardly acts ever taken by a politician, he absented himself from the Senate today and thereby paved the way for the veto to be overriden by the narrowest margin ever.

I wrote a letter to Senator Bingham which I've reprinted below. It's not the height of political criticism, in large part because I wrote it quickly, in anger:

Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA Merger Talks Raise Discrimination Concerns

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA (CHCYMCA) took a stand recently against discrimination when it asked Boy Scout Troop 505 to find another location to meet because the Boy Scouts of America's policy against LGBT youth and adult leaders is at odds with the inclusive nondiscrimination policy of the CHCYMCA. While the CHCYMCA board members receive complaints about their decision, they should remember that the same complaints were made when the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Binkley Baptist Church told the Boy Scouts they could no longer meet at their facilities and when the local United Way determined that it could no longer provide funds to the Boy Scouts.

The CHCYMCA made the right decision in the Boy Scout case, but they are now contemplating another move that members are concerned may not come out right.

Is Carrboro targeting people of color?

So I am writing because between 6 and 11 Carrboro Police cars have been sitting in front of my house for the past 90 minutes conducting a "license check".  I live on Barnes Street and it is predominantly non white.  I have owned a house here for 7 years and never had this much police presence here even when we worked with the CPD community officers to help with gang violence.

 

I have a lot of respect for Carrboro Police and have dealt with them first hand on many issues, but tonight has been a different story. When I approached them from my yard to ask what was going on, I was met with the polite but aggressive responses that included..." What , are we bothering you?'

 

I replied, "Yes, you have woken up my children and there are 8 police cars sitting directly in front of my house and the lights are flashing in my windows."

These officers were by no means sympathetic nor friendly and just now - at 12:15am with the lights still illuminating inside of my house I went outside and they pointed and laughed at me. 

 

Renewed Opposition to Carrboro Anti-Lingering Ordinance

An anti-lingering ordinance was passed in 2007 in response to neighborhood complaints of loitering and disorderliness at the intersection of Davie and Jones Ferry Roads in Carrboro (the Town of Carrboro Ordinance 5-20 can be viewed here starting on page 8). This intersection (and the Pantry located there) is one of the most popular sites in our community for the gathering of day laborers to meet potential employers.

Local organizations have raised concerns over this ordinance unfairly targeting minority residents and not being constitutional. In fact, the North Carolina ACLU raised such issues when the ordinance was being drafted. Concerns were also voiced on Orange Politics both before and after the ordinance was put in place.

Local Mayors Testify Against Bill Limiting Abortion Coverage for Town Employees

As part of a larger effort by North Carolina Republicans to restrict abortion coverage in the state (including HB 854: Abortion-Woman's Right to Know Act),  North Carolina House Bill 910 ("Gov't Health Plans/Limited Abortion Coverage"), sponsored by Rep. Stephen LaRoque of Lenoir County, would restrict abortion coverage under health plans offered by local governments to their employees. The bill would also limit abortion coverage under the state health plan for teachers and state employees.

Carrboro mayor Mark Chilton and Chapel Hill mayor Mark Kleinschmidt testified against the bill at the General Assembly on Wednesday, arguing that decisions about employment benefits for town employees should be left to the local governments.

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