Gay rights ‘top priority’ for new Asheville council

Progressive candidate Gordon Smith wants issue heard this year

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Newly elected members on the Asheville City Council say extending domestic partner benefits to LGBT city employees will be among their top priorities among taking office Dec. 8.

City Councilman-elect Gordon Smith, a progressive candidate watched by Q-Notes this year, told The Asheville Citizen-Times he might bring the issue up as soon as December.

“That is one I’m going to be pushing fairly quickly,” Smith told the daily paper.

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Other new council members, including Esther Manheimer and Cecil Bothwell, as well as current Councilman Brownie Newman, said they support the change.

“With Gordon being elected, I’m hoping it will go,” said Newman.

Mayor Terry Bellamy said she wants to hear from the public, as well as the pros and cons of the issue, before making a decision.

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On the campaign trail, Smith routinely spoke out on LGBT issues. In July he wrote that gays and lesbians should have “equal rights under the law.”

“The gay and lesbian citizens of Asheville deserve equal recognition and equal benefits,” he wrote. “To deny these benefits is to relegate gay and lesbian couples to second-class status.”

Related Stories:
Progressive candidate wins Asheville council seat, Nov. 3

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.