Originally published: Jan. 29, 2009, 6:12 p.m.
Updated: Jan. 29, 2009, 7:54 p.m.
CHARLOTTE — At a private retreat Thursday afternoon, the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners voted in favor of moving forward on the possibility of offering domestic partner benefits to county employees.
Commissioners voted 6-3 along party lines in favor of a proposal that would direct the County’s human resources department to study the possibility of extending domestic partner benefits. The vote does not initiate the benefits and the Commission will revisit the issue in the future.
On Monday, Republican Commissioner Bill James had voiced strong opposition to the proposal, saying offering such benefits to LGBT employees and their partners would be illegal. He cited the state’s Crimes Against Nature law. At the same time he used an anti-transgender slur to describe transgender people and prejudicially and stereotypically accused bisexuals of being promiscuous and involved in three-way relationships. (See past story).
James told Q-Notes on Thursday evening that the human resources department will draft a benefits policy. Afterward, the county attorney will validate its legality.
“It was a predictable outcome,” James said. “White [Democrats] talking about fairness and tolerance and theGOP talking about the law and the 250 arrests for crimes against nature.”
Q-Notes was unable to reach Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts for comment.
The Mecklenburg Gay and Lesbian Political Action Committee released the following statement Thursday evening: “Mecklenburg Gay & Lesbian Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) expresses deep gratitude, on behalf of the entire Charlotte/Mecklenburg LGBT community and its many allies, to the County Commissioners who voted in favor of basic workplace fairness. County employees who happen to be gay or lesbian work just as hard as all other county employees and, therefore, deserve to receive the same benefits for their hard work. MeckPAC will continue serving as a source of accurate information on workplace equality to aid the county as it moves forward with this important matter.”
Stay tuned to Q-Notes Online for more on this developing story.