Rep. Deb Butler wins international Tammy Baldwin Breakout award

Updated: Oct. 9, 2019 at 12:30 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - N.C. State Representative Deb Butler has been awarded the 2019 Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award—an international award given annually to state or local LGBTQ elected official whose political career pushes to move equality forward for LGBTQ people. The award is named after U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, an openly gay legislator who exemplifies the mission of LGBTQ people, according to the Victory Institute.

“Winning this award confirms what I’ve known all my life,” Butler said Wednesday. “North Carolinians are honest people of integrity and they believe in a fair fight. People are sick to death of gotcha politics and backroom deals."

Rep. Butler gained national attention on September 11 during a surprise budget veto override vote in the N.C. General Assembly. The House voted 55-15 for the override, with most Democratic representatives absent and not expecting a vote session that morning. Some of the Democratic lawmakers were reportedly attending 9/11 ceremonies. Butler strongly protested the move and accused House Speaker Tim Moore of “usurping” the process.

“You shall not do this to democracy in North Carolina, Mr. Speaker,” Butler said that morning. “How dare you do this, Mr. Speaker,” she shouted. “I will not yield, Mr. Speaker.”

Rep. Deb Butler, D-New Hanover, yells at House Speaker Tim Moore after the House overrode Gov....
Rep. Deb Butler, D-New Hanover, yells at House Speaker Tim Moore after the House overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget in a surprise vote on Sept. 11, 2019.((Courtesy of Rep. John Autry, D-Mecklenburg))

Butler’s actions caught the attention of people nationwide with the trending hashtags #WeWillNotYield and #IWillNotYield.

“I tried simply to stand up for what I knew was right.,” she said. "I want to thank the good people of North Carolina and beyond for voting for me. Let’s hope it signals a brighter and better future in our political discourse. It’s never wrong to do the right thing.”

Butler will be honored with the award at the International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. in November.

Butler was one of seven elected officials across the U.S. and one in Peru nominated for the award. For a list of the other nominees, click here.

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