Another week, another set of maddening and befuddling comments from House Speaker Thom Tillis in his continued role as the chief spokesperson for the state Republican Party.
Tillis told an audience at N.C. State University Monday night that the marriage discrimination amendment on the ballot in May will pass, but will be repealed within 20 years because it is a “generational issue.”
His remarks were first reported by The Technician, the student newspaper.
Tillis voted last year with the House Republican majority he leads to put the amendment on the ballot in May that will do far more than write marriage discrimination into the state constitution.
Legal scholars say its broad language could affect a wide range of laws affecting unmarried couples both gay and straight on issues from employee benefits to domestic violence, even wills and trusts.
A spokesman for Tillis confirmed to the Associated Press Tuesday that The Technician quoted Tillis accurately, but the spokesperson added that Tillis still supports the amendment. Apparently the Speaker believes it is ok to discriminate against people for the next twenty years or so until the people inevitably rise up to stop it.
Tillis repeated his odd remarks to WRAL-TV later Monday afternoon and also talked about his hesitation to support the amendment because of his view that the Republican Party is about limiting government intrusion into people’s lives.
Tillis can’t seem to help himself. He wants it both ways, to preside over the most extreme state House in 100 years and to reassure us by claiming he is troubled by the extremism.
But Tillis not only presided over the House, he personally voted for the discrimination amendment and house speakers rarely vote. Tillis himself has declined to weigh in on the vast majority of bills that have come before the House this session.
His vote in this case did not make a difference. The amendment needed 72 votes in the House and it passed with 76 on second third reading and 75 on its final approval.
Tillis can see the vote total before deciding to personally weigh in so he went out of his way to support the discrimination amendment, the one that now seems to be giving him pause and the one he admits will be repealed in less than twenty years.
That is little consolation to the tens of thousands of families who could be hurt by the House vote to allow discrimination to be written into the state constitution. If it is wrong in 20 years, it is wrong now.
Tillis admits the amendment will be short-lived, admits that he has reservations about it, and acknowledges that it flies in the face of the conservative rhetoric about keeping government out of people’s lives.
But then his spokesperson says he still supports it.
The bottom line seems to be that Tillis wants us to believe he’s not really a right-wing extremist, he just plays one when he presides over the House.
Sorry Mr. Speaker, actions and votes and discrimination against families speak louder than words.