Originally published: Feb. 1, 2014, 12:46 p.m.
Updated: Feb. 3, 2014, 9:41 a.m.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The North Carolina Democratic Party’s statewide leadership advanced a new transgender-inclusive measure over the weekend, with unanimous support from both the party’s executive council and larger statewide executive committee. The move will bring the state party in line with non-discrimination and inclusive standards set by the national Democratic Party.
LGBT Democrats of North Carolina President Ralph Roland motioned to include the term “gender identity” in the party’s plan of organization’s preamble and “open party” sections during the executive council meeting at the Charlotte Convention Center.
“We’ve gotten an affirmative vote from the executive council and they gave it a positive thumbs up,” said party Chairman Randy Voller. “I think the result was very positive for anyone who’s concerned about this issue.”
Rodland’s successful move was followed later in the afternoon by a motion to refer the matter directly to the state party’s plan of organization committee. That motion was made by transgender party activist Janice Covington, who was filling in as a proxy-vote for another executive committee member, and was approved unanimously by the larger executive committee. In 2012, Covington was the first transgender delegate from North Carolina elected to represent the state at a national convention.
The two motions together will ensure that gender-identity will be included in the party’s documents. Rodland said an amendment will be included in the 30-day notice sent to executive committee members before their summer meeting in June.
“I wanted to make sure we were working on this from all angles,” Rodland said. “Now, in case the revised version of the Plan of Organization fails, as it did last summer, we’ll be included in the written notice to amend the current Plan of Organization.”
The plan’s preamble and open party section already included sexual orientation.
Equality North Carolina, a statewide LGBT advocacy and education group, welcomed news of the proposed amendment.
“We applaud this important move towards a more transgender-inclusive North Carolina Democratic Party,” Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro said in a written statement. “Not only does today’s unanimous vote reveal the fast-growing political support for LGBT North Carolinians, but also shows once again that despite recent challenges, North Carolina can once again lead the way terms of LGBT-friendly protections and policies in the South.”
In other business, Voller told the executive council he expects the party to retake the state legislature over the next several cycles.
“I feel if we work hard and set a foundation for this cycle…and come back in 2016, we’re going to take back the General Assembly,” Voller told the council.
“People feel that Republicans have overreached and they fell good about our brand,” Voller added. “We believe in building a better community. We believe in justice, opportunity, prosperity and equality. It’s incumbent for us to connect those values to the messages we’re running on. We stand for these values and when our people are in office, our people deliver.”
The Democratic Party also held their larger state executive committee meeting on Saturday afternoon. Hundreds of party representatives and activists are voting on several other final amendments to the plan of organization and other organizing items, including dates for upcoming county, congressional and state conventions.