Saturday News: With friends like that...


DESPITE HIS HORRIBLE RECORD, GROUP CLAIMS TILLIS IS LGBTQ-FRIENDLY: As speaker of the N.C. House, Thom Tillis helped place a ban on same-sex marriages in the state constitution and then defended the amendment in court. As a U.S. senator, Tillis has consistently received low marks for his voting records on gay rights from the nation’s largest gay and lesbian civil rights organization. But in an invitation for a fundraiser this week in D.C., Tillis was touted as “a pro-LGBTQ Republican” by the conservative gay rights group hosting the event. American Unity Fund, which wants to make the conservative case for gay Americans, hosted the fundraiser to benefit Tillis and five other Republican congressional incumbents, including Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine. “On all the votes that have mattered since he has been in the U.S. Senate, he has not voted with the LGBTQ community,” said Ames Simmons, policy director at Equality NC.

NC'S REPUBLICANS JOIN NATIONAL ATTACK ON ROE V. WADE: Abortion has been the social conservative issue of the year in legislatures nationwide, and North Carolina could join that movement soon. The House may hold a vote Monday night to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of Senate Bill 359, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. The bill would make it a felony for a doctor not to provide care for an infant born after a botched abortion, and it creates a duty for other health care professionals to report any such failure to act. Backers of such laws, including President Donald Trump, claim that doctors are executing babies after they're born. Lindsay Robinson, state public affairs director for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said that scenario just doesn't happen and that North Carolina's legislation is intended to demonize doctors. "Doctors have a scope of practice that they practice within. and they are trained to do what it is best on behalf of their patient," Robinson said. "That is what we believe to be true, and we stand with women who trust doctors."

NC GOP STILL FIGHTING POTENTIAL SOLUTION TO DRACONIAN "BATHROOM BILL": A nearly three-year long lawsuit stemming from North Carolina’s controversial “bathroom law” reached little conclusion Friday, as lawyers for the legislature, the governor and six LGBTQ plaintiffs continue to clash about the law that replaced it. Lawyers for Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, and the plaintiffs want to enter into an agreement saying that the replacement law for House Bill 2, HB 142, cannot be used to prevent transgender people from using bathrooms consistent with their gender identity in buildings controlled by state government. But lawyers for the N.C. General Assembly have objected to that agreement. They say it’s too vague, would raise questions about federalism and could create additional court rights. A federal judge in Winston-Salem asked the parties to try to come to an amended agreement by the end of the month.

U.S. HOUSE PASSES COMPREHENSIVE LGBTQ EQUALITY BILL: Democrats in the House approved sweeping anti-discrimination legislation Friday that would extend civil rights protections to LGBT people by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The protections would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education, public accommodations and other areas. Called the Equality Act, the bill is a top priority of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said it will bring the nation “closer to equal liberty and justice for all.” Sexual orientation and gender identity “deserve full civil rights protections - in the workplace and in every place, education, housing, credit, jury service, public accommodations,” Pelosi said. The vote was 236-173, with every Democrat voting in favor, along with eight Republicans. Cheers and applause broke out on the House floor as the bill crossed the threshold for passage.

MNUCHIN REFUSES TO TURN OVER TRUMP'S TAX RETURNS TO CONGRESS: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday rejected a subpoena from House Democrats demanding President Trump’s tax returns, setting the stage for a court battle over the documents. Mnuchin said the House Ways and Means Committee’s request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose,” citing the legal advice of the Justice Department in denying the demand. “We are unable to provide the requested information in response to the Committee’s subpoena,” Mnuchin wrote. The denial may be the last step before a federal court fight over Trump’s financial records, the source of significant speculation since Trump refused to release them during the 2016 presidential campaign in a break with decades of precedent. Neal is expected to soon sue the administration in federal court to enforce the subpoenas. Mnuchin told a Senate panel this week he was glad the judiciary would be responsible for mediating the dispute between Congress and the administration.