Beth Pickering

Editorial: Local leaders’ silence speaks volumes on historic day

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Some local elected officials issued statements in support equality today and in favor of same-sex marriage. Their statements come as the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in a case challenging California’s anti-gay Proposition 8, passed in 2008 and banning marriage for gay couples. The court will hear arguments challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday.

At-large Charlotte City Councilmembers Beth Pickering and Claire Fallon, Mecklenburg County Commission Chairperson Pat Cotham and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James responded to qnotes‘ request for a statement.

James is konwn for his opposition to LGBT equality, a position from which he didn’t back down today.

“My position hasn’t changed and won’t (regardless of what the Court may or may not decide),” James, a Republican, wrote in an email. “The People of NC have spoken with clarity.”

Beth Pickering

Pickering, Fallon and Cotham, all Democrats, issued statements of support.

“I’m a strong supporter of same-sex marriage,” Pickering wrote in an email. “All Americans should be able to marry the one they love and raise a family. It’s a pleasure to see couples who’ve been together for decades be able to fully, publicly, legally declare their commitment to each other. Happy, stable, committed families. I wish this for every American.”

“I am for equality for all,” Cotham wrote simply.

“All people have the right to happiness with whomever they choose to love,” Fallon wrote, also explaining that her longtime support of LGBT equality “has not changed.”

Mayor Anthony Foxx was unavailable for comment today, said press secretary Alexander Killeffer. qnotes has asked if he is available for comment on Wednesday. Killeffer said he would look into a statement. At publication, neither the mayor nor Killeffer had responded.

The majority of other local elected officials had not yet responded to the request either, including the city’s first and only openly gay or lesbian elected official, Charlotte Councilmember LaWana Mayfield.

Several local officials were outspoken in their opposition to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, passed by voters last May. At the time, few stated publicly that they were also in favor of full marriage equality. President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex couples’ marriage rights on May 9, the day after the state amendment vote.

Local residents are gathering at Uptown’s Marshall Park on Tuesday evening for a vigil marking the landmark Supreme Court cases. Follow qnotes on Twitter, @qnotescarolinas, for live updates.

Editorial: Local leaders’ silence speaks volumes on historic day

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.