Originally published: Nov. 9, 2013, 9:12 p.m.
Updated: Nov. 10, 2013, 9:25 a.m.
GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, largely expected to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in the 2016 gubernatorial election, spoke to the state’s leading LGBT advocacy group at a fundraising dinner on Saturday evening.
“I’m here to tell you that violence, discrimination and intimidation are unacceptable,” said Cooper, a Democrat, as he gave his keynote address at the Equality North Carolina Foundation Gala. “The day of equality is coming,” Cooper added.
Cooper had received criticism from an anti-LGBT advocacy group for his appearance at the fundraising dinner.
Cooper has also publicly supported marriage equality for same-sex couples. He reiterated that support at the dinner.
“I personally support marriage equality,” Cooper said. “I’m for basic fairness. It’s that simple and I’m encouraged everyday that another set of eyes and ears are opened to equality and acceptance.”
“My faith is a personal matter,” Cooper added. “But my support for marriage equality is well-grounded in that faith.”
Cooper is expected to run for governor in 2016, and he alluded to his potential campaign during his speech.
“North Carolina is better than this,” Cooper said, noting last year’s anti-LGBT amendment. “North Carolina needs a leadership change.”
Earlier on Saturday, members of the LGBT Democrats of North Carolina also gathered in Greensboro for their annual statewide convention. The group unanimously passed a resolution praising Cooper’s LGBT equality positions.
“It’s a huge step,” said outgoing LGBT Democrats President Ryan Butler, “that the person who will be the next Democratic gubernatorial nominee and North Carolina’s next governor has so early come out and announced his support for marriage equality, even before his campaign has begun.”
At the Equality NC Gala, several leaders and community members were also awarded for their contributions to the state. Award winners included: N.C. Sen. Josh Stein, Jamie Kirk Hahn Ally Award; Janet Joyner, Bob Page Equality Champion Award; N.C. Rep. Tricia Cotham, Legislative Leadership Award; and Freedom Center for Social Justice, Organization of the Year Award.