Corey Friedman <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
A Republican state senator from Gaston County apologized Thursday for remarks about gays and blacks that riled state Democratic leaders.
Sen. Jim Forrester said he didn’t mean to offend anyone when he said “slick city lawyers and homosexual lobbies and African-American lobbies are running Raleigh” at a Tuesday meeting of the Iredell County Young Republicans. The comment was quoted in a Statesville Record & Landmark story.
“I wasn’t trying to be ugly or anything like that, and if it came out that way, I apologize,” Forrester said. “I was just expressing my opinion about the leadership in the General Assembly and the bills that are being passed. North Carolina is a conservative state. Most people are conservatives, and the leadership in Raleigh is liberal.”
Forrester said despite the Tar Heel State’s conservative roots, he’s noticed a dramatic tilt to the left during his time in the legislature. He pointed to the N.C. Racial Justice Act, which allows judges to determine if racial bias was involved in death penalty verdicts or in a prosecutor’s decision to seek the death penalty. Gov. Beverly Perdue signed that bill into law Aug. 11.
“I didn’t mean to slur, and I don’t think it’s a slur,” he said. “I’m just telling my opinion of what’s happened. You look at the legislation that’s passed and who’s supported it.”
The 10-term senator and family doctor said “the strong influence of the gay and lesbian lobby” has worked to block the Defense of Marriage Act, a bill that would authorize a referendum on amending the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The amendment would exclude same-sex partners and is seen by some conservative groups as a shield against gay marriage.
Forrester has submitted the bill at the beginning of each term for the past five years and said Democratic committee chairmen have refused to hear it.
“I would like the people to be able to vote on it because I believe that’s the way most people in North Carolina feel,” he said.
N.C. Democratic Party Chairman David Young pressed state GOP leaders to demand an apology from Forrester. He characterized the senator’s remark as “hate-filled speech” and “the lowest and worst type of politics,” according to the Associated Press.
Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger told the AP he didn’t agree with the comment, but said whether or not to apologize was Forrester’s decision.
Forrester said he didn’t intend offend African-Americans or gays and hopes those who were hurt by the remark will accept his apology.
“I didn’t mean to be meanspirited,” he said. “I’m really a mild-mannered person, and I didn’t mean to offend anybody.”
You can reach Corey Friedman at 704-869-1828.
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