A bill that would have extended equal opportunity rights to gay, lesbian, and transgendered state employees in North Carolina was killed by one vote Thursday. A state house committee voted 9-8 to reject the proposed legislation that would have expanded the state's equal employment opportunity law
to cover sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. It would not have provided medical coverage or other benefits for domestic partners. Private companies would not have been forced to change their practices under the bill either.
"This bill says we'll take talent and ability in any package and any form because that's what we need to serve the citizens of North Carolina," said Sam Connally, director of human resources at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, at the committee meeting. But Victoria Peterson, 49, of Durham said state and federal equal opportunity were created in response to the historical discrimination against women and minorities, not sexual orientation. "They could come to work dressed one day looking like a female and two weeks later looking like a male," she said. "We do not recognize people who actively engage in a gay lifestyle."