After the June 12 massacre at an Orlando nightclub, President Barack Obama and N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory ordered flags on government property be lowered to half-staff through sunset June 16.
But Wilkes County didn’t lower its flags until midday June 15, three days late and only after Brandon Anderson complained. County officials, who did not respond to the Observer’s repeated requests for interviews, said at the time it was an oversight. Anderson is skeptical.
Once known as the moonshine capital of the world, Wilkes County is a predominantly rural community, rooted in conservative Baptist traditions.
Anderson, 32, said he was raised to believe that “if you like the same sex you’re going to hell.” Now an ordained minister, Anderson is an openly gay candidate for county commissioner and an advocate for LGBTQ residents.
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He works for Lowe’s Corp., which publicly opposed the controversial House Bill 2 banning local governments from extending protections to the LGBTQ community.
On his campaign Facebook page, Anderson wrote a post about the flags:
“I contacted our county managers office, then was advised to contact the county veterans office. None within our county knew about the executive order from President Obama since Sunday.
“I was told from a county office that we just needed to stop talking about the event that took place within Orlando. Because it will cause more shootings.
“I advised them that I will never stop talking about it. I advised them that it is a disgrace that we have had an executive order from the President of the USA since Sunday, that NO one within the county has followed his order.”