Republican senator Thom Tillis censured by GOP for supporting LGBTQ+ rights

Thom Tillis loooking seriously off into the distance.

A North Carolina Republican has been censured by state GOP officials after he signalled support for LGBTQ+ rights.

Republicans voted to formally censure senator Thom Tillis during a Saturday (10 June) annual convention in Greensboro.

Delegates cited his support for LGBTQ+ rights and progressive immigration reforms as some of the justifications for the vote.

The senator, who gained influence in Congress for his willingness to form bipartisan advocacy groups, showed his support for LGBTQ+ rights in 2022 after supporting the Respect for Marriage Act.

The bill, which was signed by President Joe Biden in December 2022, codified same-sex and interracial marriage into US law by removing dormant restrictions that would have made LGBTQ+ marriage illegal if activated again.

In showing his support for the bill, Tillis said it was “a good compromise” at the time, adding that it provides “permanent certainty for same-sex couples while ensuring robust protections for churches and religious organisations”.

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His comments caused widespread criticism from the GOP, with several Republican lawmakers also condemning his temporary opposition to former president Donald Trump’s immigration policies, including plans to build a wall along the nation’s southern border.

During the vote, delegate Jim Forster said that the party needs “people who are unwavering in their support for conservative ideals”.

Forster added: “His recent actions don’t reflect the party’s shift to the right – in fact, they’re moving in the exact wrong direction.”

A spokesperson for the North Carolina Republican, Daniel Keylin, told the Associated Press that Tillis “keeps his promises and delivers results”.

Keylin added: “He will never apologize for his work passing the largest tax cut in history, introducing legislation to secure the border and end sanctuary cities, delivering desperately-needed funding to strengthen school safety and protecting the rights of churches to worship freely based on their belief in traditional marriage.”

Several state politicians also sided with Tillis over the row, including Currituck County senator Bobby Hanig, who said that the “mob mentality” would do no good.

“Senator Tillis does a lot for North Carolina, he does a lot for the coastal communities, so why would I want to make him mad?”

Others have expressed concerns about their position in the party following the censure, with some representatives saying the vote sets a dangerous precedent.

State senator Jim Burgin cited his own recent vote on North Carolina’s 12-week abortion ban, which he voted against, as a cause for concern about his future in the party.

“I don’t think we need to be attacking our own,” he said. “You don’t shoot your own elephants.”

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