Leading from the Left

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Latest on State Personnel Policy Situation

This just in from Equality NC Foundation....

Breaking News from Equality North Carolina

Yesterday we announced that the State had adopted a new policy protecting state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Already, the right wing is trying to take away our victory.

Anti-gay House Minority Leader Rep. Paul Stam and the NC Family Policy Council have publicly denounced the policy and called for its removal. Reports in the press indicate that this State Personnel Commission has removed the new, non-discrimination language from their website.

Equality NC Foundation has been advocating for the new non-discrimination language at every step. We are deeply disappointed by these developments, but are working to ensure that the inclusive policy remains in effect.

We cannot allow pressure from Rep. Stam and the Family Policy Council to take away these basic protections for our state workers.

The process on this policy, and a related rule, has been long and involved. It's a bit complicated to explain, but North Carolina State government has both "rules" and "policies." Rules carry more weight and have more legal authority than policies, though policies are also consequential.

Last summer the State Personnel Commission voted to approve the policy and also began the rule-making process for a rule on this matter. That rule was unanimously approved by the State Personnel Commission at their December meeting. In February the 10-member Rules Review Commission voted 4-2 that the State Personnel Commission did not have the statutory authority to expand the rule in this way.

Although the proposed rule could not take effect, the policy was duly adopted by the State Personnel Commission and they have not rescinded it. Therefore, the policy protecting LGBT state-workers from discrimination remains in force.

Contrary to Rep. Stam's assertions, the State Personnel Commission's actions on this policy are firmly within its statutory mandate to "establish policies and rules governing ... programs of equal opportunity," and "provide for a fair and modern system of personnel administration."

We cannot let anti-gay legislators like Rep. Skip Stam, and anti-gay groups like the Family Policy Council, succeed in taking away our rights.

We'll keep you updated as this develops. You can help by making a tax-deductible contribution to Equality NC Foundation to support this critical effort. Click here to help us stop these attempts to roll-back our rights.

For Equality,

Ian Palmquist, Executive Director