Members of both the LGBT and Latino communities in North Carolina were taken aback by recent decisions by Gov. Pat McCrory's (R) that are seemingly hostile to them.
McClatchy Newspapers reported on Friday that McCrory shuttered the state office for Latino affairs, saying through a spokesperson that his administration would rely on an advisory council to handle issues related to the state's Latino population.
"We are committed to serving the needs of all of North Carolina's citizens," spokesperson Thomas Stith said. "We don't segment our constituents by race or cultural background any more than we separate them by age or gender."
McCrory shuttering the office comes on the heels of his recent attempt to brand drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants with a pink stripe and the phrase "NO LEGAL STATUS," which immigration advocates took as a sign McCrory wanted to perpetuate a stigma against immigrants, even those participating in the government's Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program, which grants qualified immigrants two-year work visas.
Latino advocates pointed out that McCrory closed the office at a time when the Republican party has expressed more interest in reaching out to Latino communities.
"To close the office of Hispanic affairs only goes to confirm what many people suspect in our state," said Jess George, executive director of the Charlotte-based Latin American Coalition. "Which is that, despite movement with the Republican Party at the national level towards more bipartisan solutions around comprehensive immigration reform, North Carolina conservatives don’t seem to have gotten the same memo."
According to The Huffington Post, McCrory also nominated attorney A. L. "Buddy" Collins, who has a record of opposing legislation that would protect LGBT students from bullying, to the state board of education. Collins is currently a member of the board of education for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.
"Buddy Collins has always been a retrograde voice, inimical to the interests of youth, on the school board," said Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
In February 2002, Collins opposed efforts by GLSEN to have sexual orientation be covered under the county board's non-discrimination policy.
"I think it has everything to do with whether people who are gay and lesbian have some sort of special right that everybody else doesn't," Collins said at the time. "This request could have been made by people with overweight children or kids with glasses or any other thing that children pick on other children for."
In an April 2002 column for the Winston-Salem Journal, the Post reported, Collins also accused GLSEN of using public schools "as a place to seek acceptance of its sexual practices" and of using public workshops to expose children to "dangerous homosexual sex acts."
Collins must still be approved by the state's Republican-dominated General Assembly.
[Image via Pat McCrory official Facebook page]