Two openly gay candidates among those receiving endorsement
RALEIGH, N.C. — Dozens of candidates for the North Carolina General Assembly received endorsements today from Equality North Carolina, the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy and education group.
The list of endorsements — more for governor, council of state and judicial races will be released next week — paint a fuller picture of Equality NC’s plan to fight back after the May 8 passage of the anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment discriminating against LGBT couples. The group says all of its endorsees are strong, pro-equality voices. Many were among the most outspoken elected officials in fighting the passage of the amendment.
“We are excited to announce our support for candidates who have demonstrated through both words and deeds, their commitment to equality for all North Carolinians, including a stance against Amendment One,” Stuart Campbell, executive director of Equality NC Action Fund, said in a press release on Thursday.
The Equality NC Action Fund gave their nod to a total of 37 candidates for House and 18 for Senate, including a two openly gay and lesbian candidates.
Marcus Brandon, currently representing Guilford County in the House, received an endorsement. He was also named the group’s legislator of the year in 2011. Deb Butler, an openly lesbian candidate for Senate in New Hanover County, was also endorsed. She faces incumbent Republican state Sen. Thom Goolsby, who supported placing the anti-LGBT amendment on the ballot.
Campbell told qnotes on Thursday that Brandon and Butler would likely receive financial contributions. How much each receive will depend the specific circumstances of each race, he said.
“Deb Butler will be receiving significant support from us because she is running against an entrenched incumbent,” Campbell said via email. “Marcus Brandon, who we strongly endorse, will definitely receive our support but depending on the dynamics of his race may not need as much assistance.”
Many of Equality NC’s other endorsed candidates are also running against anti-LGBT incumbents or facing anti-LGBT challengers.
State Sen. Doug Berger, who represents Franklin, Granville, Vance and Warren Counties, was among several incumbents receiving endorsements and facing anti-LGBT challengers. The Republican attempting to take his seat is Chad Barefoot, a son-in-law of Tami Fitzgerald, the far-right activist who led the anti-LGBT amendment effort and who has worked for groups affiliated with the Family Research Council, named a hate group in 2010 by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Several incumbents in Mecklenburg County received endorsements, including state House Reps. Martha Alexander (D-District 88), Rodney Moore (D-District 99), Tricia Cotham (D-District 100), Becky Carney (D-District 102), Kelly Alexander (D-District 107), and state Sens. Daniel Clodfelter (D-District 37) and Malcolm Graham (D-District 40). Democratic candidate Robin Bradford, running against Republican Charles Jeter in District 92.
Equality NC Action Fund did not endorse any Republicans this year.
“Unfortunately, no Republican candidates returned our candidate questionnaire,” Campbell told qnotes. “We are looking forward to the opportunity to endorse pro-equality Republicans and will continue to reach out to them.”
No Libertarians received endorsements, either. Campbell acknowledged receiving several completed candidate questionnaires from Libertarians but that “none of them support statewide workplace, housing and accommodations non-discrimination legislation, which is a key criteria for support from our organization,” he said.
The endorsements announcement comes one year after the passage of the Senate bill that put North Carolina’s anti-LGBT amendment on the ballot. Voters approved it 61 to 39 percent.