If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community — or perhaps anyone who has lived in North Carolina the past decade — you were probably surprised to learn that Thom Tillis is a “pro-LGBTQ Republican.”
It’s true, according to the American Unity Fund, a conservative gay rights group that lauded Tillis in an invitation to a GOP fundraiser this week. Apparently, the group was smitten by a statement Tillis made after N.C. lawmakers passed a 2017 compromise to repeal the discriminatory and destructive HB2. In that statement, he said that North Carolina shouldn’t be “beholden to the loudest voices on either the far-left or far-right.” This appears to be what passes for LGBTQ support these days in some circles.
Tillis carefully accepted the American Unity Fund praise, saying that “I think it probably is the best statement about how I go after politics I care about.” He didn’t, however, declare whether he actually was a “pro-LGBTQ Republican.”
Let’s clarify: He’s not. Time after time, when the LGBTQ community has faced the pain of public discrimination in North Carolina, Tillis has either been silent or an active participant in that pain.
The latter was true in 2012, when then N.C. House Speaker Tillis supported North Carolina’s Amendment One, the last state amendment in the country to ban same-sex marriage. When his “friends” in the LGBTQ community stood to speak of how disheartening it was to be told they were not worthy of marriage, Tillis did not stand with them.
He did say something, however. In a speech to N.C. State students that spring, Tillis remarked that the same-sex marriage ban would probably be reversed within 20 years, anyway. It was very on-brand for Tillis — trying to have it both ways politically but instead annoying everyone. Ultimately, Tillis showed his true non-rainbow colors by hiring lawyers to fight for Amendment One after experts declared it dead in the courts.
As for HB2, Tillis might have tried to find middle ground with the 2017 compromise repeal, but when the so-called “bathroom bill” was crafted and adopted a year earlier, Tillis made hardly a peep in defense of the LGBTQ community. Later, when the Department of Justice gave North Carolina officials a deadline to declare they wouldn’t enforce the discriminatory bill, Tillis ignored reporters who wondered what he thought about it all.
Tillis also has voted against amendments to provide anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ students in public schools and for homeless LGBTQ youth seeking housing, education and job training. He briefly protested in 2017 when President Donald Trump said he wanted to ban transgender troops from serving in the military, but when that ban took effect last month, Tillis didn’t lift a finger to support House and Senate bills that would block the ban.
We’re in a golden era of the big political lie, mastered by a president who knows his supporters will believe whatever whoppers he delivers. Get ready for more eye-rollers as election season arrives — like how NC-09 candidate Dan Bishop didn’t knowingly invest in a website that supported hate speech, or how Thom Tillis is a BFF of gays, lesbians and transgender people. The LGBTQ community knows better. So should voters.