Board Passes Civility Resolution With Bill James's Help
Last week, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James said gay people are sexual predators. His words inspired a resolution before the commission last night that calls for tolerance, inclusion and civility. And Commissioner James voted for it. No where in the page-and-a-half resolution is there a mention of James or his recent comments about gay people. Instead, it says the board stands united in firm opposition to inflammatory speech that may cause bullying and persecution based on race, sexual orientation and a host of other things. To the surprise of his fellow commissioners, James said he felt he could generally support that. "I don't think the resolution is particularly significant, but I don't have a problem with it, I guess, considering it won't really accomplish anything, but. . . " began James. "So are you going to support it?" asked board chairman Jennifer Roberts. "Yeah, I think I am, only because all it says is everybody should be nice to each other and give everybody a hug. And that's fine. I don't have a problem with that," replied James. But he still has a problem with gay people. He didn't back down from his comments last week that homosexuals are sexual predators. Those comments came out in an email to board chairman Jennifer Roberts. She wanted to send a letter on board stationery congratulating Senator Richard Burr on his vote to repeal "Don't ask, don't tell." James followed that email up with a newsletter saying that not every homosexual is a predator, but as a group, they are. The comments drew national attention. Last night James said the resolution was just an attempt to quell the flames. "I think the reason the resolution and this other stuff is going on is because all the powers that be want the Democratic National Convention and want to cover this stuff up with a thin veneer of a resolution. And I'm okay with that," said James. Although the resolution doesn't mention James or his comments, board members called him out, even fellow Republicans. "Although I will fight to the end for our collective right to free speech as protected and delineated by the Constitution, the comments made by Commissioner James are beyond reproach and out of line with my Republican party and my Christian faith," said Commissioner Karen Bentley. James has a habit of getting people angry. A year ago he asked Commissioner Vilma Leake if her dead son was a "homo." Bentley said the resolution won't change the behavior of board members. She said only the electoral process can take care of that. About 150 people attended the meeting. Many of them urged the board to censure James. But some praised him for speaking out on what he sees as wrong.