Domestic partner benefits, other protections long sought by community advocates
CHARLOTTE — City Councilmember Patsy Kinsey said on Sunday that the council will have the votes to pass a benefits plan for same-sex partners of city employees.
The District 1 councilmember’s announcement came during an LGBT community memorial service for transgender hate-crime victims.
“We’re almost close enough now that the city council will have the votes to pass domestic partner benefits,” Kinsey told an audience of about 75 gathered at the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte.
Kinsey has been working with an ad-hoc group of community members pushing for a variety of changes in local policies and ordinances. This writer has been among the members of the informal group, which is seeking a domestic partner benefits plan similar to that approved by the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners in December 2009.
“It has taken all of the community working together to get this done,” Kinsey said.
Charlotte is the last major city in the state to take up consideration of LGBT-inclusive policies or ordinances. In addition to a domestic partners plan, activists have also been seeking a more inclusive employment non-discrimination ordinance.
Last year, City Manager Curt Walton added sexual orientation to the city’s human relations non-discrimination policy. At the time, City Attorney Mac McCarley argued specifically against including protections for transgender workers.
Activists have said they would prefer a council-approved ordinance inclusive of both sexual orientation and gender identity.
“We have been very encouraged by this month’s election results and the election of our city’s first openly gay council member,” said Scott Bishop, a member of the ad-hoc policy group. “We hope this conversation can move forward quickly.”
This newspaper has editorialized several times in support of increased LGBT protections in Charlotte.