Vilma Leake

Advisory: Gay community members tell anti-gay Bill James, ‘We love you’

billjameshomoMEDIA ADVISORY
February 16, 2010

Gay community members to Bill James: We love you
Grassroots activist to present anti-gay commissioner with Valentine’s present

CHARLOTTE — Feb. 16, 2010 — Grassroots activists with Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality (CRANE) will present conservative, anti-gay Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James a special Valentine’s card at the County Commissioners meeting. Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community were at the receiving end of James’ anti-gay comments and slurs in December.

On Tuesday, CRANE organizers Laura Maschal and Lacey Williams hope James will open up and reconsider his stances on LGBT equality. Maschal’s and Williams’ Valentine’s card will contain signatures and thoughts from local LGBT community members.

“We’d like to present Commissioner James with a Valentine’s card from the gay and gay-friendly community in Charlotte with the hope that with loving support, and maybe some tough love, he can turn his attitudes around in 2010,” Maschal says. “We’ll keep on checking in with him throughout the year to make sure he stops using anti-gay slurs and begins to open his eyes to the power of love in our community.”

At the County Commissioners meeting on Dec. 15, 2009, during debate on proposed domestic partner benefits for LGBT city employees and their partners, James leaned over to fellow Commissioner Vilma Leake and said, “Your son was a homo, really?” His comments in response to Leake’s emotional story of her son and his death were outrageous and inappropriate, yet James offered no apology. In fact, he continued to make outrageous statements to local media outlets in the days following the meeting. James’ latest comments are but a few in a long history of abusive rhetoric directed at LGBT citizens and residents in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

The Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality (CRANE),, is a grassroots coalition of activists and community members working toward civil and social equality for Charlotte’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community.

More detailed information on CRANE and its list of upcoming events, including a public demonstration on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” can be found online at