CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James said he will not apologize for a derogatory remark he made in referring to the late son of fellow commissioner Vilma Leake.
The remark at Tuesday night's commission meeting followed an impassioned speech by Leake in support of same-sex domestic partner benefits.
At the end of her remarks, Leake invoked the memory of her late son, who she said had died of AIDS.
Over the applause for her remarks, Bill James was picked up by microphones saying, "Your son was a homo, really?"
At that point Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Roberts appears stunned by the remarks and as Roberts then tries to move the meeting along, Leake can be heard responding to James, "Don't make me hurt you. Don't do that to me. Don't talk to me about my son."
On Wednesday Leake told NewsChannel 36, "I was taken aback this could come from a fellow commissioner." She added, "It put a dagger in my heart."
Leake said she is talking to other commission members about disciplinary action that could be taken against James for his remark.
Roberts said she too would explore what action the commission could take, saying it could be in the form of a censure or rebuke.
"Certainly I would hope at the very least that Commissioner James would apologize," Roberts told NewsChannel 36.
James refused a NewsChannel 36 request for a formal interview but did say he would not apologize.
In a statement he released he called Leake a "religious hypocrite." He went on to defend his remark, saying, "...it is legitimate to ask her what 'lifestyle' and in particular whether her son was homosexual...if she didn't want to make her son and issue -- why did she use him, his lifestyle and his tragic self-inflicted death from AIDS as the reason for her vote?"
The meeting Tuesday night was the last for the commission this year so any disciplinary action against James would likely not happen until January.