This election season much is at stake for the LGBT community. On a federal, regional and local level gay and transgender citizens are still fighting for basic rights such as employment and housing non-discrimination, hate crimes legislation and the ability to provide hospital care for their partners. It is important, now more than ever, to find out where North and South Carolina candidates stand on issues important to the community. Below is a list of federal, regional and local candidates, current issues on the legislative ballot, and progress and setbacks that have defined the Carolinas this election year. Below are highlights on several select races bound to draw some heat and media coverage come Election Day.
State Governor — Beverly Perdue (D), Pat McCrory (R), Michael Munger (L)
Perdue, the current lieutenant governor, supports civil unions, domestic partnerships and has said that she would oppose a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Anti-discrimination policies undertaken in her own office look promising for LGBT North Carolinians. During the televised debate between McCrory and Munger on Sept. 25, Munger stated his support for equal rights for LGBT citizens. McCrory is still vague on gay marriage. “I really have no opinion,” McCrory said. “If two men or two women want to marry it doesn’t affect my life.”
Lieutenant Governor — Walter H. Dalton (D), Robert Pittinger (R), S. Phillip Rhodes (L)
Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, Walter Dalton, is a current state senator with a friendly LGBT legislative record. He has been endorsed by the statewide advocacy group EqualityNC.
U.S. Senate — Kay Hagan (D), Elizabeth Dole (R), Christopher Cole (L)
Incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole does not support a federal bill to classify crimes based on gender, sexual orientation or disability as a federal crime. She voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would bar discrimination based on gender-identity and sexual orientation and supports the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Openly gay Libertarian nominee Christopher Cole supports a DOMA repeal and also supports anti-bullying policies, domestic partnerships and adoption rights. Democratic nominee Kay Hagan, a current state senator endorsed by EqualityNC, co-sponsored a trans-inclusive anti-discrimination bill and favors LGBT inclusive hate crimes legislation. Although not a proponent of same-sex marriage, Hagan supports domestic partnership legislation.
U.S. House of Representatives
District 10 — Daniel Johnson (D), Patrick McHenry (R)
U.S. Navy veteran Daniel Johnson, a former felony prosecutor, is running as another, young and fresh face in politics. Incumbent Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry, the youngest member of Congress, is also one of its most conservative members. McHenry has a long record of supporting anti-LGBT causes and has been outspoken on his support of the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment, despite incessant rumors that he, himself, is gay. McHenry has never said he is gay. Johnson, who was wounded off the coast of Korea in 1999 and had both of his legs amputated below the knee, is a conservative Democrat whose major campaign focuses are healthcare, education, energy independence, veterans’ affairs and national security. Johnson is opposed to same-sex marriage, but does not support any constitutional amendments banning recognition of same-sex relationships.
N.C. House of Representatives — Wade Boyles (D), Dale Folwell (R)
Incumbent Republican State Rep. Dale Folwell has been an outspoken supporter of several anti-LGBT initiatives in the N.C. House, including a state constitutional amendment to ban recognition of same-sex relationships. Openly gay Democratic Party activist Wade Boyles was appointed late in the campaign season to replace the original candidate, who dropped out for reasons not disclosed to the public. If elected, Boyles will be the first openly gay man elected to the General Assembly, after State Sen. Julia Boseman, and the first openly gay person elected to the N.C. House. In a questionnaire from the anti-gay N.C. Family Policy Council, Folwell said he was opposed to adoption by gays and lesbians and opposed to comprehensive sex education.
N.C. Court of Appeals — Judge John S. Arrowood
Judge John Arrowood, an openly gay man and supporter of the statewide EqualityNC, is running for reelection to the Court of Appeals seat he was appointed to by Gov. Michael Easley.
Through 2008, progress has also been made in South Carolina. The Public Accomodations Non-Discrimination Act introduced by State Sen. Robert Ford (D-Charleston) has been enacted into law. The act prohibits discrimination based on gender-identity and sexual orientation in public accomodations. Ford has also introduced The Fair Housing Act (S, 441) and The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (S, 0438). South Carolina is one of only five states without hate crimes legislation.
U.S. Senate — Bob Conley (D), Lindsay Graham (R)
Incumbent Sen. Lindsay Graham voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and against legislation that would allow same-sex couples to adopt. Although a Democrat, Bob Conley is as conservative as Graham on LGBT rights issues, siding against a hate crimes bill and voicing opposition to several issues, including same-sex parenting rights, marriage and domestic partnerships. Years-long rumors have accused Graham of hiding his sexual orientation. Graham has never said he is gay.
U.S House of Representatives
District 1 (Charleston) — Linda Ketner (D), Henry E. Brown, Jr. (R)
Openly lesbian Linda Ketner has been a philantrhopist, community leader and volunteer for many in her coastal South Carolina community, including on LGBT equality. She is a co-founder of SC Equality has worked for years to gaurantee equal rights for gay and transgender South Carolinians. Incumbent Rep. Henry Brown has recently come under fire from community members accusing him of corruption and abuse of power. In 2004, Brown voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have constitutionally banned all recognition of same-sex relationships nationwide.
Greenville County Council — James Akers, Jr. (D), Liz Seman (R)
Openly gay realtor James Akers, Jr., 27, easily won his primary in June and has been working to secure the support of Democratic Party leadership in Greenville and across the Palmetto State. If elected, Akers would be the first openly gay man to secure public office in South Carolina. Akers’ opponent, Republican Liz Seman slightly hinted at gay-baiting win she announced her candidacy in February with calls of support for “traditional values.”
— Matt Comer, Q-Notes staff, contributed to this report.