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North Carolina’s lieutenant governor, a Republican and the highest-ranking Black official in the state, confronted a Democratic lawmaker after her speech on the state Senate floor, which he felt equated violence against the Black community to the “hardships” of LGBTQ individuals.
The heated exchange between Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and state Sen. Julie Mayfield, a Democrat from the more liberal city of Asheville, happened Monday in the hallway outside the Senate chamber in Raleigh, the state capital. Mayfield had just delivered a speech in which she referenced three Black men lynched in her district in the late 1800s.
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“Next time, before you get ready to say something on that floor, come see me,” Robinson said, confronting Mayfield outside the chamber before abruptly turning and walking in the opposite direction.
“I don’t think it matters,” Mayfield is heard saying in response.
“Does she have to ask you before she speaks?” state Sen. Natasha Marcus, another Democrat who represents Mecklenburg County, calls after Robinson as he leaves. Marcus recorded the part of the incident and posted it on Twitter, calling Robinson’s comments a “rant.”
“I don’t remember his exact words but it was something like ‘I don’t appreciate you comparing or equating Black people with gay people,’ and I said ‘that’s not what happened,’” Mayfield recalled in an on-camera interview with WNCT. “That’s not what happened, that’s not what I was trying to do at all,” she said. “And then he launched into ‘you need to come see me if you have something to say to me.”
Robinson’s office clarified why the lieutenant governor took issue with Mayfield’s speech in a statement obtained by Fox News Digital Wednesday.
“Senator Mayfield’s comments were not in regard to any legislation being presented on the floor. The Senator was equating the lynching of African-Americans, to the hardships of the LGBTQ+ community,” Robinson’s spokesman John Wesley Waugh told Fox News Digital. “The Senator equating one of the darkest points in American history to any issue; is an attempt to score political points for the upcoming midterms.”
“These comments, while not naming the Lt. Governor directly, were her way of personally attacking him,” Waugh said. “The Lt. Governor is not a politician, if he feels there is a difference of opinion, he will not cower behind social media to address it; he will go directly to the source.
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The spokesman explained that the lieutenant governor “has not hidden from his Conservative Christian beliefs and will not waver from them.”
“However, as he has said many times, we do not live in a theocracy; we live in a Constitutional Republic where everyone has the right to express themselves however they want,” he said. “This includes the LGBTQ+ community, and the Lt. Governor will always fight to protect the rights of all people.”
The confrontation comes after several Democrat lawmakers have called for Robinson’s resignation over his church sermons on the topic of homosexuality during livestreamed services last month.
Referencing Black men killed by lynching in the 1800s, Mayfield, who is White, began her speech Monday saying, “They are three of thousands of Black people who were beaten or killed by racist White mobs who saw Black people as less than human, as other, as undeserving of even basic respect.”
“We know that these mobs often acted in support of law enforcement and elected officials,” she said. “As elected leaders, we have a responsibility to serve all of our constituents — not just those who look like us, or think like us or worship at the same churches. We are here to serve everyone even if we may not understand them and even if they didn’t and never will vote for us. And yes, even if they love differently than us.”
“It is folly to think we can ever speak in public and completely divorce ourselves from our elected office,” the lawmaker continued. “It is convenient fiction that we can say something in a particular forum and not expect to be held accountable for those words in another.”
Mayfield concluded her speech in saying, “We are elected officials, and if we can’t respect our constituents, rather than viciously attack some of them maybe we’re in the wrong job. So I stand in solidarity with LGBTQ North Carolinians because for me, silence is complicity.”
She never mentioned Robinson by name, thought the lieutenant governor approached her afterward.
Robinson recently has stated he is “95 percent sure” he will run for governor in 2024 but no official announcement has been made.
The Charlotte Observer previously reported about comments made by Robinson on Nov. 14 at Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
At the pulpit, Robinson questioned the purpose of being gay, explained he did not wish his grandchildren to see two men kissing on television. He also said heterosexual couples, who can conceive children, are “superior” to homosexual couples “because they can do something these people can’t do, because that’s the way God created it to be.”
“Society has completely purged God from the building, from the equation and because of it we’re headed toward a rabbit hole that’s going to lead us to something we can’t even imagine,” he said. “God destroyed a society because of its immorality. And let’s get this straight, in this country we don’t have a homosexual issue, that’s just two of the devil continuing to divide us and lead us into immorality.”
He continued to say God made all things for a purpose, including “what the cows leave behind” or maggots and flies. “What is purpose of homosexuality?” he said. “If homosexuality is of God, what purpose does it serve? What does it make? What does it create? It creates nothing.”
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The comments drew criticism from at least one Christian leader, a pastor at St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church in Raleigh, who shared video of the sermon on Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The Twitter account “Right Wing Watch” also shared video of Robinson at a separate speaking engagement at Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove in which he said, “There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth.”
“Yes, I called it filth,” the lieutenant governor said. “If you don’t like it that I called it filth, come see me and I’ll explain it to you.”