Asheville councilman cites LGBT support in bid for re-election

Councilmember Gordon Smith was proponent of several measures protecting LGBT workers

by Matt Comer  Editor  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: April 18, 2013 in News

Gordon Smith, courtesy gordonforavl.com.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — City Councilmember Gordon Smith is up for re-election this year and he’s taking his record of LGBT support to voters as proof of his value on the Blue Ridge town’s city council.

“Anything short of full equality for our LGBT citizens is unjust, and I will work to continue our march toward a city that demonstrates its values in all of its policies,” Smith wrote this morning on his personal blog, Scrutiny Hooligans.

Smith, who lives in West Asheville with his wife, Rachel, was the key proponent of a domestic partner benefits plan for Asheville city workers in 2010.

“Recognizing the relationships and health needs of our LGBT employees was a big step forward,” Smith wrote. “As city officials it’s important that demonstrate leadership to ensure the values of our community are reflected in government.”

In 2011, Smith took the lead again in working with a coalition of 50 clergy to pass a blanket “Equality Resolution.” The resolution, which passed 5-1, included the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s non-discrimination policy, took a stand opposing bullying and endorsed marriage equality for same-sex couples.

“I’m grateful to the Council members who supported providing increased safety, opportunity, and acceptance for those citizens marginalized by unjust laws and policies,” Smith wrote.

Smith said Asheville has made several other progressive, LGBT-inclusive movements since. Two of the county’s largest employers added domestic partner benefits. Buncombe County Commissioners recently voted to offer domestic partner benefits and this week offered final approval to a measure protecting employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

While the progress has been great, Smith said much work remains to be done. State and local law does not prohibit discrimination against LGBT workers in private companies. Smith said that is an issue “we have a responsibility to address.”

“When offering economic incentives to business partners, we can guarantee that they include sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination policies,” Smith wrote. “Anything short of full equality for our LGBT citizens is unjust, and I will work to continue our march toward a city that demonstrates its values in all of its policies.”

Smith added, “It’s critical that we have leaders on City Council who have demonstrated ability to get things done, and I’m asking for your help to continue this important work.”

You can learn more about Smith and his campaign at gordonforavl.com.