Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Charlotte Readies for Its Close-Up: Before the Democratic National Convention Rolls into Town Next Year, Activists in Charlotte, N.C., Are Determined to Pass a Long-Overdue Package of Basic LGBT Rights Legislation

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Charlotte Readies for Its Close-Up: Before the Democratic National Convention Rolls into Town Next Year, Activists in Charlotte, N.C., Are Determined to Pass a Long-Overdue Package of Basic LGBT Rights Legislation

Article excerpt

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WHEN THE DEMOCRATIC National Committee announced earlier this year that it had selected Charlotte, North Carolina, to host the party's 2012 convention, some observers rushed to accuse the Democrats of putting political considerations above equality. Unlike other finalists, including Cleveland, Minneapolis, and St. Louis, the Queen City lacks basic protections for its LGBT employees, such a law against discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.

"Most of us felt very proud that Charlotte won the DNC," said Matt Comer, editor of QNotes, an LGBT publication serving the Carolinas. "But there was some concern that we did not want Charlotte to be embarrassed when the convention actually came here."

Seizing the opportunity, an ad hoc working group of local activists has devised plans to get the Charlotte City Council to pass a slate of LGBT legislation before the convention arrives next September with at least 30,000 delegates and an international media spotlight. The proposals include domestic-partner benefits and an inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance for city employees, in addition to the requirement that companies contracting with the city have nondiscrimination policies.

"We did not want the DNC for the first time in a decade to come to a city that was not officially LGBT-inclusive," says Comer, a member of the small, informal group of activists pushing the matter. "It's an opportunity for LGBT community members to take inspiration from the DNC and use it as a starting point to have these conversations with local elected leaders that have not happened enough and to push them on these issues. …

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