A trio of groups were behind the successful push to place a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage, as well as civil unions and domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples, on the 2012 primary ballot in North Carolina. Those groups — the Christian Action League, Return America and the North Carolina Family Policy Council — have a history of not only opposing any rights for LGBT people but also making false and inflammatory statements about the LGBT community.
The Christian Action League (CAL) got it’s start in 1937 as the Allied Church League, formed in response to the repeal of Prohibition. CAL continues to work to restrict access to alcohol and ban tobacco use, in addition to its opposition of rights for LGBT people.
CAL is one of only ten state-based affiliates of the American Family Association, an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center calls an anti-gay hate group.
The slogan of CAL is, “The only lasting cure for evil and injustice is Christian Action.”
In recent years, the group has opposed allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military, the group fought to keep sodomy laws legal — including an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court — and successfully beat back attempts by the North Carolina Legislature to pass stronger anti-bullying laws.
“My job is to proclaim the gospel to those who make our laws and to bring the Christian worldview to bear on the legislation that they consider,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of CAL, in an interview with the Biblical Recorder.
Creech said in the interview he makes himself available in the state Capitol. “In many respects, I feel like I’m still pastoring. Some legislators refer to me as their pastor. I am able to sit with them in their offices and talk about the Lord as the opportunity arises.
“Research is a premium with lawmakers. If there is legislation that we feel is inconsistent with our Christian values, or if it is consistent with our values and we want to help get that legislation passed, I am poised to testify on that issue,” he added.
In an interview with the Baptist Press, Creech said his organization had been working for a decade to get the amendment passed.
“It’s the culmination of over 10 years of intensive work,” Creech told the Baptist Press. “Every year that that legislation was put forward, the leaders in both chambers would not even allow it even to be heard. But when the leadership changed at the last election, we knew we had hope that we were finally going to get a hearing on it, and if we could get a hearing, that it would pass.”
And Rev. Creech certainly spent time lobbying legislators in the most recent push for a constitutional amendment.
“There’s a lot of groundwork to be laid,” he said just before the Legislature passed the amendment on to the ballot. “Not only do you have to have all the votes that are needed, in the long run, you need to be in the best position so you can win North Carolina. Even though we have been working on this for many years, this is the first time we’ve had a real opportunity in front of us.”
At a marriage rally in August, he spoke of the importance in ensuring gays and lesbians not be allowed to marry or raise children.
“Two fathers can’t show a daughter how to be a good mother,” he said according to the Raleigh News and Observer. “The rite of natural marriage is the foundation of home life and social order and must so remain until the end of time.”
On same-sex marriage in general, Creech has been scathing.
“God didn’t create another Adam for Adam. Homosexuality is not blessed in the sight of God. Since the homosexuals came out of the closet, they have tried to run you and me into the closet,” Creech said in 2009 according to the Kinstin Free Press.
Things haven’t been rosy for the CAL. The group has struggled with finances. In June, the group sent an urgent plea for funds.
“It pains me to write that the Christian Action League is struggling financially,” Creech wrote. “Every time a note of this kind is sent out, people who pride themselves as being foes of our values rejoice. They earnestly desire that our effective lobbying presence in the North Carolina General Assembly and other public venues would simply disappear. But I must tell you that we have fallen behind in payroll for staff and are behind in our expenditures. We must catch up. I assure you that we have made every possible cut and the Board of Directors carefully oversees our spending.”
The group encountered similar money problems in 2010.
But it was the high-profile arrest of the group’s president in 2007 that damaged its reputation.
The group was headed by former legislator Coy Privette until 2007. Privette was arrested in July of that year for aiding and abetting prostitution for which he pleaded guilty.
Police were alerted by Privette’s bank of suspicious activity after Tiffany Summers deposited a check for an unusually high amount from Privette. When police contacted Privette, he said the checks were stolen.
It turned out that the checks were written in exchange for sexual services by Summers. Summers told police the couple had met in a hotel room twice, and police found those hotel rooms were rented under Privette’s name. Security cameras captured Privette and Summers entering the hotel room, and police had Summers hand over pictures of Privette from her cell phone.
CAL has teamed up with the other anti-gay groups to push for the amendment. In 2009, it teamed up with Return America and the now-defunct NC4Marriage for a rally. Also on hand at the rally was state Sen. James Forrester (R-Gaston County), who was a leading voice and sponsor of the amendment, which he had pushed for 7 years. He passed away on Monday.
Forrester’s wife has been as busy as her husband lobbying for the amendment. In 2010, she was a featured speaker at NOM’s marriage tour. She’s also a member, and state associate director, of the Concerned Women for America.
An article she wrote for the CAL in 2008 created quite a bit of controversy in North Carolina.
“Did you know that the average life span of a homosexual is 39 years as opposed to 78 for heterosexual women and 76 for heterosexual men?” she wrote. “Read your social history and you will find that most societies that condoned homosexual behavior did not survive past one generation.
“My fellow Christians, make no mistake. It is under the guise of tolerance that the homosexual agenda is seeking to change the course of Western Civilization, redefine the family and rob our children of their innocence.The Ten Commandments has been the legal code of the Western World for over 2000 years by the Western calendar, and over 5000 years by the Hebrew calendar. They have served as the standard for social and legal justice in America for over 200 years.”
CAL ended up removing the article from its website, admitting that some facts had been stretched.
That’s not the only group with which the Forresters had forged close ties in their efforts to get the marriage amendment on the ballot.
Perhaps the group most rigorously in favor of the amendment is Ron Baity’s Return America. The group does not mince words when it comes to same-sex marriage and homosexuality.
In the group’s January newsletter, Baity wrote, “Since they cannot produce they must recruit young people to their perverted, warped agenda. One cannot think of anything more nauseating, debased, lewd and immoral than recruiting precious young people into such shameful conduct.”
Baity has organized dozens of rallies to get the amendment on the ballot. In August, the group held a rally in Raleigh. “It’s a biblical issue,” Baity said. “Our organization is pushing to say to our legislature, ‘We want you to vote on it.’”
Baity and Sen. Forrester were close. The two are pictured below discussing the outcome of the vote to ban same-sex marriage via a posting on Return America’s Facebook page.
Baity is known for his fiery sermons against the LGBT community. He’s called LGBT people perverts who recruit children.
In February, Baity wrote in support of sodomy laws in the Return America newsletter:
“The laws of our country have historically been based upon a higher law, God’s law. When the higher law of God is abandoned another law, Man’s law, will replace it. Man’s laws at their best are fickle and changing,” he wrote. “For instance, the sin of sodomy was looked upon as breaking God’s immutable law, the higher law. Today, the higher law, God’s law, has been abandoned and man has changed his law to accommodate a sinful, perverted lifestyle.”
He accused the LGBT community of attacking him because homosexuals “know no restraints.”
Baity said after August’s marriage rally, a “homosexual man accosted our family” over the issue.
“His voice intensified as his language became more abusive. I stepped between him and my family at which time he began cursing me and using expletives that reflected his depraved nature,” Baity wrote on his website.
He said the incident is “a small sampling of a much larger problem in the homosexual community. They know no restraints.
“The homosexual community in North Carolina is working overtime to prevent the Marriage Amendment from being placed on the ballot in our state,” he added. “According to their websites, personal emails, and attacks, they see Return America as a threat to their movement.”
In May, Baity noted that for the first time in eight years, they would be able to pass the amendment.
“For the first time in eight years, we have been given the assurance from our legislative leadership that the Marriage Amendment will go forward for a floor vote in our Legislature,” he wrote. “With so much opposition on the forefront, it is vitally important that we rally behind our friends in the Legislature and lend our support to them. Those who oppose Biblical marriage are very active and stand united against God’s program for marriage.”
In fact, Baity has pushed for a marriage amendment since 1996, well before the first state passed such a ballot measure (Alaska in 1998).
Baity organized the Family Values March, drawing 12,000 conservative Christians to Winston-Salem in 1996.
“We needed to stand up for marriage and the family,” said Baity according to the Raleigh News and Observer. “We needed to send the message: Homosexuality is unacceptable.”
Baity pressed city councils and county commissions to pass resolutions in support of the amendment. In 2006, for example, he was successful in getting the city of Thomasville to approve a resolution calling on an amendment banning same-sex marriage.
North Carolina Family Policy Council
The North Carolina Family Policy Council was formed in 1992 as part of the Focus on the Family’s network of family policy councils.
In 1999, the group led the push to prevent the North Carolina Legislature from repealing sodomy laws used to imprison gays and lesbians.
Bill Brooks Jr., president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council told the Associated Press in 1999, “You can argue anything as a privacy issue, but that doesn’t make it right. Much of the assault and battery, the domestic violence, takes place in your own home, but that doesn’t make it right.”
Also in 1999, the group opposed efforts by the Legislature to pass a hate crimes law following the death of Matthew Shepard. John Rustin of the North Carolina Family Policy Council said, “This is not about crime. It is not about hate. It is about legitimizing the homosexual lifestyle.”
The group not only opposes same-sex marriage, but also domestic partner benefits. In 2003, when the Legislature was considering such benefits for same-sex couples, the NCFPC was very vocal in its opposition, saying the bill “would radically impact one of the fundamental principles of North Carolina law – the preservation and protection of marriage and the family.”
“[It] would represent a long stride down the slippery slope of redefining the family, would be the first step toward legalizing homosexual acts, and would de facto legalize same-sex relationships.”
The group says on its website it wants gays to change their sexual orientation, something most major professional organizations say isn’t possible and attempts to do so can greatly harm people.
The group also penned a newsletter last month that lamented the U.S. Supreme Court’s striking down of sodomy laws which were used in the past to incarcerate gays and lesbians.
When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned sodomy laws nationally in 2003, Brooks told the Durham Herald-Sun, “Taking these laws off the books is the state basically saying that we think that this is a wholesome and healthy activity.”
The group also said laws barring discrimination against LGBT people in hiring and housing would lead to bestiality. The state Legislature considered such a bill in 2003 that lost by one vote.
In 2009, the group again wrote that sodomy laws should be reinstated.
“The decriminalization of sexual acts between homosexuals (such as anal and oral sex) has been a top priority for the homosexual rights movement since it began, and for good reason,” they group wrote. “It is difficult to convince the public that a lifestyle is legitimate and natural, if the behaviors that define it are illegal.”
NCPFC continued, “North Carolina’s sodomy statute is still on the books,” and said that if a proposed bill to repeal the state’s antiquated law were to pass, “North Carolina would be stuck with a pro-sodomy statute on the books, if HB 100 were enacted.”
Brooks even said sodomy laws are like seatbelt requirements.
“The human body is not designed for homosexual acts. It’s harmful to their bodies. I think it’s the business of the government to hold up a standard and to protect people from behavior that is harmful to themselves and society. It harms society because it harms them. They are a part of society.”
In 2009, the group touted discredited researcher Paul Cameron in a newsletter painting all gays and lesbians as unhealthy. “Two conclusions from the data seem inescapable: first, from a public health perspective condoning same-sex ‘marriage’ or homosexual activity is a bad idea, and second, homosexual sex is inherently dangerous, regardless of promiscuity,” the group wrote.
Brooks complained that there’s not enough gay sex on television and other media, and that if there were more depictions of of graphic sexuality, Americans would be less likely to support LGBT rights:
As we discussed the growing pro-homosexual advocacy in the halls of the General Assembly, we realized one of the problems in countering their agenda is simply that no one likes to talk about what homosexuals do that defines their sexuality. In the media, in the movies, and on television, homosexuals are almost always presented in the best possible light. They are kind, friendly, sympathetic, and understanding. They are rarely ever shown having sex, in contrast to movies about heterosexuals, which have them kissing, hugging and under the sheets at almost every opportunity.
Research demonstrates that there is a very dark side to the so-called “homosexual lifestyle.” Yet, pro-homosexual activists have an agenda and they are working in the halls of our legislature, actively lobbying legislators for special rights that would affirm and legalize their behavior. But what does homosexual behavior offer society? Why should the government do anything that would promote the practice of sodomy?
Aside from banning other rights for LGBT people, the group was successful in lobbying this year for the amendment.
“We are pleased that North Carolina voters will finally have the opportunity to place the definition of marriage in the State Constitution,” Brooks said in a statement when the amendment passed the Legislature. “We look forward to talking about the importance of marriage and the benefits to children when they have a father and a mother. But today, we join with the people of North Carolina in thanking these representatives and senators for passing the Marriage Protection Amendment.”