Patient no longer: Charlotte officials must act

Editorial

by Matt Comer  Editor  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: October 15, 2012 in Editorial

In our Oct. 13 print edition, qnotes once again printed our “Charlotte Checklist.” It was an idea prompted by an editorial two issues ago (“With DNC over, Charlotte must live up to progressive hype,” Sept. 15, goqnotes.com/17705/). In the editorial, I outlined the various issues yet to be addressed by local elected leaders in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County after the historic Democratic National Convention was hosted here. The checklist, which we’ll print in nearly every issue going forward, is a chance for our community to be reminded just where their elected officials, collectively, stand on our issues. It is also a chance to hold our elected bodies accountable to us, our concerns and our needs.

A downtown statue represents Charlotte’s future, but what is the future of LGBT equality in the Queen City? That’s up to how accountable elected officials will be to their constituents. Photo Credit: dionhinchcliffe, via Flickr. Licensed CC.

I have always said just how shameful I think it is that North Carolina’s largest city — indeed, the largest city between Atlanta and Washington, D.C. — should lag so far behind on matters of LGBT equality. Though we have “friendly” elected officials, their friendship never really seems to extend much past election season. Our Charlotte Checklist is proof, showing how inadequate protections are for LGBT workers and community members.

On Oct. 17, the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) will host their annual candidates’ reception (see event details in this issue’s featured events). This year, candidates for the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners will be among those mixing and mingling with LGBT voters, citizens and residents at the event. I encourage you to attend, to make your presence known, to voice your concerns and demand action on these important matters.

Elected incumbents and hopeful candidates need to know that our community will no longer stand silently by as they ignore the issues important for our equality and our survival. As elected leaders, they should actually get to leading. But, we’ve seen very little of that. The time is now: no more backroom deals and no more hushed policy changes. We need more than smiles and nicely-worded form letters with the words “gay” or “LGBT” dropped in. All those things are nice, but real political courage and leadership is better, and it is time that our community of voters, citizens and residents are recognized and protected as equally as others. It is time that city council and the county board put our issues on their public agendas and use the privileges we have given them — the power of their representative vote — to move our community forward.

We’ve been patient for far too long on these simple matters of inclusion. Why must Charlotte continue to languish when other cities and towns, some of them hundreds of times smaller than us, are seeing progress at much faster rates? Our community has long advocated for these changes, yet our elected leaders refuse to budge.

The more our leaders drag their feet, the more they will be seen as backward and bumbling southern politicians unwilling, either because of irrational fear or willfully-chosen bigotry, to protect all of their constituents. I know a great many of these leaders and I know their hearts are in the right place. I hope their courage will prevail over their fear. It would be a shame to see so many good reputations ruined because so many refused to do what is right. : :

– This editorial was originally published in Matt Comer’s “Editor’s Note” column in the Oct. 13, 2012, print edition.