Albemarle City Council supports Senate Bill 579
Published 9:36 am Wednesday, November 22, 2023
At its Nov. 6 meeting, Albemarle City Council declined approval of an ordinance amendment to define drag shows and set a minimum age for attendance.
Immediately following the vote, N.C. Rep. Wayne Sasser reported to the council the passage and signing into law of Senate Bill 579, which he said, “somewhat addresses the matters of the resolution you just voted down.”
“The short title of the bill is ‘Prevent Harm to Children,’ ” Sasser said, citing two general statutes (GS 14-190.1: Obscene Literature and Exhibitions, and GS 14-202.1: Taking Indecent Liberties with Children), both of which are addressed under the new law.
At Monday night’s meeting, City Council Resolution 23-25, “Resolution Affirming Revised N.C. General Statute 14-190-1 Shielding Minors from Obscenity,” was adopted following discussion among council members.
Following a motion to approve by Councilman Benton Dry, and a second by Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Sue Hall, Councilman Chris Bramlett questioned the need for the resolution.
“I don’t understand why we need to affirm a state law,” he said. “We’re going to abide by it. The only thing I can think of is to try and cover up, or make it less of a problem, from when we voted last time not to protect children from drag shows…I don’t understand why we have all of these other things and drag shows aren’t in there.”
Bramlett went on to move for an amendment to the resolution, which would have added drag shows as an example of “entertainment featuring content that might expose children to activities that they may not have the social and/or emotional maturity to comprehend.”
“I’ll accept your motion, but that would not be in conformance with the law that we are basing this on,” replied Mayor Ronnie Michael.
“What validity does this have?” asked Councilman Bill Aldridge. “Since we voted 4-3 last time, this resolution serves what purpose?”
“This resolution is re-affirming that we agree with the state law and will be enforcing it,” said Michael.
Councilman Dexter Townsend noted that the new state law would take effect in less than two weeks.
“Representative Sasser indicated that Senate Bill 579 would be implemented in December,” he said “It’s Nov. 20 now, so I’d rather for us to leave well enough alone and wait on the state law.”
Bramlett’s motion to amend the resolution failed to receive a second, sending the original motion to a vote, which passed by a 6-1 count, with Townsend in opposition.
The resolution reads as follows:
A Resolution Affirming Revised N.C. General Statute 14-190-1 Shielding Minors from Obscenity
Whereas, the City Council believes that children should be protected from harm and that performing acts of obscenity in front of children should never occur; and
Whereas, the North Carolina lawmakers have recently taken steps to prevent harm to children by rewriting N.C. General Statute 14-190-1; and
Whereas, it is unlawful for any adult, firm or corporation to intentionally disseminate obscenity by selling or providing any obscene writing, picture, record or other representation or embodiment of the obscene; and
Whereas, N.C. General Statute 14-190-1 makes it unlawful for any adult, firm or corporation to present or direct an obscene performance and publish or exhibit obscene materials such as video and audio recordings; and
Whereas, N.C. General Statute 14-190-1 increases the penalty for violating North Carolina’s obscenity law to a Class H felony with a punishment range to a maximum of more than two years behind bars; and
Whereas, support for the revisions to N.C. General Statute 14-190-1 received near unanimous bi-partisan support by state lawmakers seeking to shield minors from Obscenity; and
Whereas, the revisions received support from members of the public including NC Values Coalition and Christian Action League;
Now Therefore, Be it Resolved, that the City Council of the City of Albemarle opines that entertainment featuring: (1) content that might expose children to activities that they may not have the social and/or emotional maturity to comprehend or (2) otherwise tempt children to engage in activities that are inappropriate for their age, should only be attended by those ages eighteen (18) and older.
Now Therefore, Be it Further Resolved, that the City Council is concerned about the potential impact that certain entertainment could have on sensitive populations such as underage persons.
Now Therefore, Be it Further Resolved, that the City Council of the City of Albemarle affirms its strong support for N.C. General Statute 14-190-1 and directs the Albemarle Police Department diligently to apply the statute in protection of the children of the City of Albemarle.
This the twentieth day of November, 2023.
Toby Thorpe is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.