Press Release • October 26, 2020

ENC & GLAAD Detail Anti-LGBTQ Record Of Senator Thom Tillis

Research from Equality North Carolina and GLAAD reveals nearly a dozen instances where Sen. Tillis legislated against LGBTQ people in policy and rhetoric, including his current support for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett

Raleigh, NC, and New York, NY - Monday, October 26, 2020 - Equality North Carolina, the oldest statewide organization in the country dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rights, and GLAAD, the world's largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, are releasing research on the anti-LGBTQ record of North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis. Sen. Tillis sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which just approved, in a fully partisan vote, the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court onto the full Senate, despite her anti-LGBTQ record.

Sen. Tillis' history of anti-LGBTQ policy dates to his time as North Carolina House Speaker in 2011 and continues to his current service in the U.S. Senate. At the Supreme Court confirmation hearings earlier this month, Sen. Tillis appeared in person despite testing positive for COVID-19, an infection likely contracted at a superspreader event at the White House announcing Judge Barrett's nomination. Despite admitting it was a mistake to participate in the event without a mask, Sen. Tillis then participated in the hearing without a mask, and failed to ask any questions about Judge Amy Coney Barrett's stated anti-LGBTQ views.

"Sen. Tillis has an extensive track record of working against the needs of LGBTQ North Carolinians, as well as other vulnerable groups across our state," said Equality NC Executive Director Kendra R. Johnson. "Time and time again while in power, he has demonstrated that he lacks empathy or concern for the lived experiences of the LGBTQ community. North Carolinians deserve elected officials who lead with compassion, not politicians who actively work against building a safer, more equitable North Carolina for us all."

"During the rushed confirmation hearings, Sen. Tillis has done a disservice to LGBTQ North Carolinians by ignoring Judge Barrett's stated views against marriage equality and her time served at a school that bars LGBTQ students and families," said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "Sen. Tillis' own record against LGBTQ people, as detailed by Equality North Carolina and GLAAD, is more evidence of his failures to represent all North Carolinians and goes against the state's record of forward progress for equality."

Sen. Tillis' anti-LGBTQ record includes:

  • Claims the then- 200,000 deaths so far from COVID-19 are inflated figures, giving voice to a baseless theory from anti-LGBTQ online conspiracy movement QAnon, a movement identified by the FBI as a domestic terror threat
  • Signs amicus brief supporting florist Barronelle Stutzman, arguing against a unanimous decision by the Washington Supreme Court finding her religious rights were not violated, and that her decision not to serve a same-sex couple for their wedding was indeed discriminatory
  • Votes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court despite credible allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh and Kavanaugh's partisan and defamatory testimony during his confirmation hearings. Justice Kavanaugh later files the dissenting opinion to Bostock v Clayton County extending workplace protections to LGBTQ workers
  • Initially criticizes the Trump administration's plan to ban transgender people from military service, yet does not join in supporting a bipartisan effort to protect those servicemembers
  • Refuses to condemn HB2, a roundly-criticized state law that banned cities and municipalities from passing discrimination protections for LGBTQ people and blocked local governments from passing protections for transgender people to use public accommodations matching their gender identity. The law was repealed and replaced with a compromise that still left discriminatory moratoriums in place amid a costly and embarrassing boycott to the state. Tillis issued a one-line statement: "North Carolina's brand and continued economic prosperity should not be beholden to the loudest voices on either the far-left or the far-right who don't have our state's best interests in mind."
  • Avoids reporters looking for comment when the Department of Justice gave the state a deadline to stop enforcing the discriminatory law HB2.
  • Votes against amendment to reauthorize programs to assist youth in obtaining housing, education, and job training, which included non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Votes against amendment to provide benefits to the same-sex spouses of veterans and their children in states where their marriages weren't recognized
  • Votes against amendment which sought to protect LGBTQ students from discrimination in public schools, grades K-12
  • Appeals federal judge's ruling that state laws like North Carolina's voter-approved Amendment One limiting marriage to a man and a woman were unconstitutional, despite wide legal opinion that North Carolina's law would not survive the appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court had decided not to review same-sex marriage rulings in five states including North Carolina. Two years before pressing the appeal, Tillis had told college students that he believed the amendment he put on the ballot would be repealed within 20 years.
  • As North Carolina House Speaker, votes to place constitutional amendment on the ballot stating "marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State." The amendment, Amendment One, passed the following year

Sen. Tillis's anti-LGBTQ record has earned him his own profile on GLAAD's Trump Accountability Project, an ongoing compilation of negative policies and rhetoric against LGBTQ Americans from Pres. Trump, members of his administration, his supporters and now, his supporters in the U.S. Senate including Sen. Thom Tillis.

About Equality North Carolina: Equality NC is the oldest statewide organization in the country dedicated to securing rights and protections for the LGBTQ community. ENC is invested in ensuring that every North Carolinian can see themselves in this movement and helping create a safer, more equitable world for all marginalized individuals.

About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.

# # #

Recent Press Releases