The governor of North Carolina is facing criticism from Christian groups and praise from LGBT advocacy groups after signing a proclamation establishing “Gender Expansive Parents’ Day” as part of an effort to recognize LGBT parents.
Gov. Roy Cooper, D-N.C., who just won reelection to a second term last month, designated Dec. 6 as “Gender Expansive Parents’ Day.” “All parents, regardless of gestational relationship to a child, gender identity, or gender expression, deserve to be celebrated for the love and nurturing they give to their children,” Cooper declared.
After citing statistics showing that more than two million children have a parent that identifies as LGBT and that LGBT people are six times more likely to adopt children, Cooper maintained that “many of these LGBTQ parents also exist outside a traditional gender binary.” Additionally, he concluded that “recognition of the work and sacrifice of non-binary, agender, and other gender expansive parents, as well as that of other non-traditional primary caregivers, is key to our efforts to create a more inclusive State.”
Cooper issued the proclamation following a request from State Representative Vernetta Alston, a Democrat who represents the Durham-based District 29 in the North Carolina House of Representatives. “Mother’s and Father’s Day celebrations often exclude gender-expansive parents, neglecting the valuable roles they play in the lives of their children,” Alston argued.
According to Alston, “Becoming a more inclusive state will require … making the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people more visible. This proclamation does that.” A biography featured on Alston’s website reveals that she is a member of the LGBT community, stating that “she and her wife, Courtney, are raising their two kids, Reese and Davis, in southwest Durham.”
The Christian Action League, a lobbying organization based in North Carolina, published a blog describing Cooper’s proclamation as “tragic.”
“It teaches that same-sex marriage, same-sex romance, is just as moral and healthy as heterosexual behavior – something that doesn’t match the science of our culture’s experience no matter what’s said to the contrary,” said Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
“It asserts that same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting is just as moral and beneficial as natural marriage and natural parenting, which is a dangerous lie. It declares a mother or a father offers nothing uniquely beneficial to the care and development of a child. Same-sex parenting purposely denies a child either a mother or a father. Moms and Dads are not interchangeable.”
Creech went on to argue that Cooper’s Proclamation is “a form of cultural heresy that works to undermine the nation’s core strength – the character of the family.” He contended that the traditional nuclear family is the only “firewall against poverty, physical, mental, and emotional health issues” as well as a prescription for “a healthy future for our children and civilization.”
Meanwhile, LGBT advocacy groups praised Cooper’s proclamation. Speaking to The News & Observer, Kendra R. Johnson, executive director of Equality NC, stressed that “there is no one set way to define a family, nor is there any one specific way to define parenthood.”
“Equality NC hopes that families and parents all across our state feel a sense of pride today in this proclamation that gender identity or expression doesn’t define parenthood – love does,” she asserted.
This is not the first time that Cooper has faced criticism from Creech and other Christian activists over his LGBT support. In 2017, shortly after taking office, Cooper signed an executive order requiring state agencies to allow individuals to use public facilities that correspond with their gender identity as opposed to their biological gender.
After Cooper signed the executive order, the Rev. Franklin Graham, a North Carolina-based evangelist and CEO of the charitable organization Samaritan’s Purse, lamented on Facebook that “North Carolinians have been betrayed by Governor Roy Cooper.” He warned that the executive order would cause North Carolinians “to be exposed to pedophiles and sexually perverted men in women’s public restrooms,” adding “if one woman or one child is molested because of this executive order, [Cooper] should be held accountable.”