Politics & Government

Rep. Paul Stam’s sexual orientation comments called ‘shameful’

A lawmaker’s suggestion that the definition of “sexual orientation” could include everything from incest to pedophilia sparked outrage among some colleagues Tuesday.

In a debate over charter schools, a legislator offered an amendment that would have prohibited discrimination, including over sexual orientation. Rep. Paul Stam, a Republican from Apex, questioned the amendment and passed out a two-page paper titled, “What is Sexual Orientation?”

Taken from the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” published in 2000, it listed 30 definitions, including fetishism, sadism, bestiality and pedophilia. The association actually classified many of the definitions on the list as disorders at one time and last year, said pedophilia was mistakenly called a “sexual orientation.”

“This is shameful,” Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham of Mecklenburg County said later. “He needs to understand that his words and his actions are offensive and cannot be tolerated.”

Democratic Rep. Marcus Brandon of High Point, the only openly gay legislator, called Stam’s comments “ridiculous.”

Stam said later he was only trying to get the author of the amendment to define sexual orientation.

“I’ve never gotten an answer from people who use the term ‘sexual orientation,’ ” he said.

The amendment, by Rep. Susan Fisher of Asheville was tabled.

Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro told QNotes, a publication oriented to the gay and lesbian community, that Stam’s comments “represent not only an embarrassing display of anti-LGBT rhetoric in North Carolina, but a clear and present reminder of why these protections are so necessary – in our schools, in our workplaces, and at all levels of everyday life in the state we call home.” The (Raleigh) News & Observer contributed.

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