City has yet to expand protections for LGBT citizens
CHARLOTTE — Voters ushered in a new era of local governance and politics on Tuesday, electing an historic 8-3 Democratic majority on city council and the city’s first Democratic mayor in nearly a quarter century. The leadership elected Tuesday is, perhaps, the most LGBT-friendly the city has ever seen.
Get with the game
Q-Notes‘s Oct. 17 cover story explored the state of LGBT equality in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. An accompanying Editor’s Note column implored Charlotte leaders to “get with the game” and enact LGBT-friendly policies:
Charlotte — with almost three-quarters of a million residents and almost 135 times the size of the smallest North Carolina city offering LGB protections — seems more like a backward, Southern village than the “world class” metropolis it fancies itself to be. It is time to end the embarrassment and time to fully embrace all citizens in the life and times of our city and county. Charlotte and Mecklenburg County leaders need to get with the game. Read more…
In at-large races, voters chose three LGBT-friendly Democrats and an LGBT-friendly Republican.
Incumbent Democrat Susan Burgess, the city’s mayor pro tempore, received 15.06 percent of the vote. Burgess has often taken Republican Mayor Pat McCrory’s place at Human Rights Campaign dinners, local Pride festivals and other community events.
After a leave from elected office, former Councilman Patrick Cannon captured 13.65 percent of the at-large vote. Democrat David Howard received 12.68 percent. Republican Edwin Peacock III received 12.89 percent.
The Mecklenburg Gay and Lesbian Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) endorsed both Burgess and Peacock, one of only two GOP candidates endorsed by the group this year. According to MeckPAC, Cannon and Howard are “receptive” to LGBT issues. The group said they are “open-minded and positive about LGBT equality,” but might “not be as effective an advocate as a candidate receiving full endorsement.”
Five incumbent Democrats ran uncontested in their district races. Only one, Patsy Kinsey (District 1), had been endorsed by MeckPAC. She beat out openly gay candidate Owen Sutkowski in the Democratic primary in September. The group said District 4 Councilman Michael Barnes and District 5 Councilwoman Nancy Carter are “receptive” to LGBT issues.
Of Charlotte’s 11 council seats, seven will be held by candidates either endorsed by MeckPAC or those who are likely friendly on LGBT issues. That’s good news for local advocates pushing the city to expand its protections and benefits for LGBT citizens. The city has yet to pass non-discrimination policies inclusive of sexual orientation and gender-identity, public accommodation policies inclusive of LGBT protections and does not offer benefits to same-sex partners of city employees.
By far the largest city in North or South Carolina, Charlotte lags behind several other municipalities offering full or partial LGBT protections or benefits, including Bessemer City, Boone, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Columbia, Greensboro, High Point, Raleigh and Winston-Salem.
Three counties in North Carolina, including Mecklenburg County, offer employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation; another also offers protections based on gender-identity.
nextissue: Be sure to pick up the next print issue of Q-Notes on Nov. 14 or head back to www.q-notes.com for more local and national LGBT election news and analysis.
Correction: This article originally stated the council had an 8-4 Democratic majority. The correct number is 8-3. There are 11 council members.