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Monday, June 26, 2017

All other things being equal, who's not embarrassed to be seen with us?

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Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts posted this today:
Today marks the two year anniversary of the Obergefell v. Hodges decision that led to marriage equality across the United States. 
After Jim Obergefell's husband had a long battle with ALS, Jim wanted to be the spouse listed on his husband's death certificate. His love for his spouse was - and is - a vital part of his identity. 
 In the Supreme Court decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, "the Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach ... to define and express their identity."
Whether we are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, a queer person of color, straight, or identify in a different way; no matter how we worship; no matter our politics; no matter whom we choose to marry; the Constitution gives us the right to define and express who we are. 
As mayor, I have not only a constitutional responsibility, but a moral responsibility to make sure everyone in our community is treated equally regardless of their identity. 
I've brought that message to many facets of our community. Just yesterday, I celebrated the grand opening of Trimurti Temple, a Hindu Temple that joins over 700 places of worship in our city. In the afternoon, I joined the Black Women's Caucus at First Mayfield Memorial Baptist Church and joined Goombay Charlotte for kickball, and last night, I celebrated Eid al-Fitr in Uptown with members of our Muslim community. 
These are simple ways of telling our neighbors that they're important and that they matter to Charlotte. 
Every one of these groups and people is part of our city's identity, and our diversity is one of the reasons so many people continue to choose Charlotte as a place to live, work, and thrive. 
I hope you will join us as we continue to work for equality for all. It's something worth fighting for.
She's had a tough two years. Most people blame her for stuff she can't do much about as a part-time mayor. City departments answer to the city manager, who answers to the city council, two members of which are also running for mayor.

But this post ought to resolve doubts about which candidate LGBT voters should support. Consider these facts:

The Republican candidate, Charlotte City Council member Kenny Smith, says nothing about this today. He supported HB2, too. He has never supported a Charlotte civil rights ordinance that included LGBT Charlotteans.

I'm sure, like all Republicans, he has a gay friend he sort of likes personally while praying for their repentance and salvation.

Vi Lyles, the Democratic City Council President Pro Tem, is silent on Facebook today, too. She hasn't bothered to post anything, about anything, on her Facebook page since March.

Lyles considers herself a pragmatist. That means she was willing to drop transgender protections when they were unpopular. She will support LGBT rights when there is no downside, but she prefers bloviating on other topics.

My state senator, Joel Ford, is a Democrat in name only. Because his district is one the courts have declared unconstitutional because Republicans in Raleigh stacked minority voters a mile high in it to save surrounding Charlotte districts for their supermajority, he has to run on the "D" ticket. Despite his swagger about being a big power in Raleigh, the Mecklenburg Black Political Caucus saw right through all of him.

They endorsed Lyles.

He voted against HB2 but then tried to replace it with a bill so out there even Senate Republican boss Phil Berger couldn't pass it with a 3/5 majority. Then he voted for HB 128, the 2017 fake repeal of HB2.

He also voted for the 2015 spite law- rushed through after the Supreme Court's marriage equality decision, to let state magistrates stiff-arm same-sex couples seeking civil marriage ceremonies.

If you're an LGBT voter, though, contrast Mayor Roberts' post today with Ford's silence, then read this Charlotte Observer editorial about how Ford acts when challenged by a gay man:


If there’s one thing we’ve learned these past 12 months, it’s that people have wildly different expectations about the behavior of their elected officials. Used to be that although we like our leaders to be fighters, we didn’t really want them to hit below the belt. Then Donald Trump ran for president, and all the rules went away.

We still believe some lines shouldn’t be crossed, however, and we think N.C. Sen. Joel Ford just stepped over a few. Ford, who’s running for Charlotte mayor, posted a distasteful photo Tuesday night during a Twitter conversation that included a couple of critics. The post was unbecoming of someone who says he’d like to lead our city. We wonder now if he’s ready for the responsibility.

Here’s the background: Late Tuesday, Ford joined a Twitter conversation because one of the participants called him “homophobic.” That’s fine – public officials and private citizens shouldn’t hesitate to defend their reputations, although we might have opted for something different than Ford’s response, which was a GIF of a person looking confused.

As happens often on Twitter, someone else joined in – in this case, Charlotte LGBT advocate Matt Comer, who has been critical of Ford on LGBT issues in the past. Comer, in his tweet, said he preferred former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory’s “cold shoulder” to Ford’s GIFs and memes.

Ford’s response: A video clip of a dog defecating on the ground.

Ford, contacted by the editorial board Wednesday, says he sees more than that: “It is a dog who is being creative, who doesn’t want to get wet or cold, using the bathroom.”

Ford also said he made the post because “I’m not anti-LGBTQ or homophobic.”

(Update, 12:10 p.m.: Ford has deleted the tweet. He also posted an apology in which he reiterated that he “fully supports LGBTQ rights and equality,” but said of his tweet: “It was inappropriate and for that I am sorry.”

His campaign manager, Dakota Cary, told WFAE that Ford’s campaign will consider creating a list of approved GIFs for him to use.)

Certainly, we understand it’s not pleasant to be criticized, especially when you believe it’s unfair. We also understand the temptation that Twitter offers for snarky responses to snarky barbs. But a North Carolina senator needs to resist that easy satisfaction, and a prospective mayor of Charlotte needs to understand that criticism is a part of the job. In fact, it will be more frequent and more biting than what Ford faced Tuesday. Is he equipped to respond the way a leader – or even just an adult – should?

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