CHARLOTTE — Roberta Dunn says she was pleasantly surprised when she opened her email inbox to find an invitation to attend The White House’s annual holiday party on Dec. 14. What’s more, she’s been invited to attend a briefing session with some members of President Barack Obama’s senior staff.
Phil Hargett, a Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee steering committee and former chair of the group, will join Dunn in Washington, D.C.
Dunn, who is transgender, sits on the board of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte. She’s also been active as a steering committee member for the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee and on a number of local, state and federal political fronts. This year, she served as a community advisor to Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx’s reelection campaign.
Dunn is crediting the combined effect of her resume for her special invite.
“I’ve known [local Organizing for America staffer] Kevin Brown and Mayor Foxx for a couple of years now,” she says. “That involvement and commitment to support LGBT equality in Charlotte and across the state and on the national level all added up.”
Earlier this year, Dunn was named Creative Loafing‘s “Best Activist.”
Dunn says she’ll keep the activist effort up when she treks off to the nation’s capital next month.
“First and foremost, I want to talk about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and why it is necessary to get this passed and how much of a shame it is that it hasn’t been passed,” she says. “LGBT people are being discriminated against everyday of their lives and until this bill is passed, they always will be.”
Next on her list is the anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment banning marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. “Something has to be done at the federal level to prevent this from happening,” Dunn asserts.
Dunn also wants to highlight some of her concerns on local policy initiatives.
“The federal government and White House staff need to hear that the LGBT community in Charlotte is united for LGBT equality,” she says.
That message is all the more important as the Queen City continues to ramp up toward the Democratic National Convention (DNC) next September.
“We really want something to happen here before the DNC comes to town,” Dunn says. “We’ll be working with the DNC to make progress.”
Dunn also hopes to engage DNC staffers and other Democratic Party officials in working with Charlotte’s LGBT Community Center. She wants to provide local LGBT programming around convention time and in the months leading up to it.