Dear Sen. Newton,
I read with great disappointment reports of your anti-gay sentiments at a pro-HB2 rally in Raleigh on April 26th.
According to an Associated Press release in the Winston-Salem Journal you were quoted as inciting a crowd with the following words: “Tell your friends and family who had to work today what this is all about and how hard we must fight to keep our state straight.”
As the Republican nominee for Attorney General of North Carolina, it seems odd that you would say statements that contradict the very national and state constitutions that you would vow to protect if elected and claim to abide by now as a lawyer and public servant.
In case you forgot in your passionate defense of an unlawful piece of legislature, citizens are considered equal in the eyes of the law whether they are straight, gay, or transgender.
You should best know that your words were discriminatory. In fact, they could be considered homophobic.
As an elected official from District 11, your duty is to all of the citizens who either voted for you, against you, or refrained from voting in the past three elections for your seat. For that matter, you are accountable to all North Carolinians no matter their orientation, creed, race, or religion. That’s because you hold a state office and are seeking another.
Would you say that you only served the “straight” people in your district? Would you say that you would only serve the “straight” people of North Carolina? Do you as a potential Attorney General of North Carolina really view HB2 as a constitutionally sound law? Do you not see the recent ruling in Virginia concerning a transgender teen as a sign of the demise of HB2? These are not rhetorical questions. They deserve an answer, one that is not clouded with campaign talk and vitriolic rhetoric.
A viable candidate for Attorney General does not run on a platform that is discriminatory. That is antithetical to the very principles of equality in the eyes of the law.
I myself am a government employee, a traditional public high school teacher to be exact. No matter who walks into my classroom, no matter who is on my roll or asks me for support with their academics, I am bound to help them. It’s my job. If a student is gay, straight, transgender, black, white, Christian, Muslim, or atheist, my job does not change.
Nor should yours. And you took a vow.
My commitment to do my job is not limited by someone else’s constitutionally protected sense of self.
Nor should yours. Because you took a vow.
Ironically, when confronted about your words concerning the “straightness” of North Carolina, you backtracked saying:
“It means keep men out of the ladies’ room…. I think the silly season is upon us and I think this whole effort by the Democratic Party is to be expected. I never mentioned gays or anyone. So I’m not quite sure how they made that leap. Maybe they’re being a little sensitive.”
Well, it’s not a leap. One of the definitions of the word “straight” on sites like vocabulary.com or thefreedictionary.com refers to sexual orientation. To say with a “straight face” that the word “straight” is not connoted with sexual orientation is just “straight up” wrong. So while you thought you “set the record straight” by looking “straight into” the eyes of reporters, you simply did not “get your facts straight”.
What North Carolinians need is “straight talk” and not someone who can’t “shoot straight”.
Besides, our state borders are not straight. Our highways are not straight. Out mountains do not point straight up into the air. Our coastlines are not straight. Our rivers do not flow straight.
In fact, they are curvy and have their own shapes and paths. They are diverse, like the very people you claim to want to represent.
And that’s the “straight truth.”