Editorial: Local leaders’ silence speaks volumes on historic day

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx speaking at an LGBT welcome party for the 2012 Democratic National Convention on Sept. 2, 2012. File Photo.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mayor Anthony Foxx has “no comment” on marriage equality and the two historic cases being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court this week, according to his spokesperson.

qnotes reached out to Foxx’s press secretary Alexander Killeffer on Tuesday to see if the mayor had any comment or statement on the issue. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday and today in two cases challenging California’s 2008 Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

“Mayor’s unavailable for comment today,” Killeffer responded. “Sorry!”

Asked if the mayor, who has not yet publicly announced any support for same-sex marriage, would be available on Wednesday, Killeffer said he would look into a statement.

In follow-up this morning, Killeffer responded simply, “No comment.”

In addition to the mayor, qnotes reached out to 20 other local officials on City Council and the Mecklenburg County Commission on Tuesday and Wednesday. At publication, only four had responded.

Also on Wednesday, North Carolina’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan announced her support for marriage equality. She was one of just 10 remaining Democrats in the U.S. Senate who had not done so. President Barack Obama announced his full support of same-sex marriage on May 9, 2012, one day after North Carolina’s anti-LGBT marriage amendment was passed.

The Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) told qnotes in a statement this afternoon that local elected officials should be more outspoken on matters of marriage equality and other LGBT issues.

“Many of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s LGBT citizens and straight allies support marriage equality and also want to know whether their local elected officials share their same views,” the group said in a statement sent by chair Scott Bishop. “MeckPAC commends Q-Notes for challenging local elected officials as this issue is heard in the Supreme Court. MeckPAC will continue to ask this question on its pre-election surveys and will use the information to make candidate endorsements in future elections.”

MeckPAC added, “As more and more Federal elected officials come out in support of marriage equality, MeckPAC hopes that more local elected officials will also come out on the right side of history on this issue.”

Foxx was last endorsed by MeckPAC in the 2011. He also received endorsement when he first ran for mayor in 2009. In his first race for City Council in 2005, the group said Foxx was “non-committal” and “unwilling to respond concretely to MeckPAC’s policy concerns.”

Foxx’s LGBT history

In February 2012, Foxx announced his opposition to Amendment One, the anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment banning gay couples from marriage. At the time, he did not say he was in favor of full marriage equality and said the question was an economic development issue.

“I want you to know this tonight that when I go into the ballot box in May and cast my vote for various offices, I’m going to be voting against Amendment One,” Foxx said during a short speech at the 2012 Human Rights Campaign North Carolina Gala in Charlotte.

“I see this as an economic development issue,” he added. “You can just look at the list of sponsors for this dinner tonight and see that our business community has gone light years ahead in terms of embracing diversity and I worry that if this amendment passes, for all the work we do to try to create jobs in this state, we’re going to be finding ourselves losing jobs because we’re going to have companies that want to have talented people here but who don’t want a ‘not wanted’ sign hung over their front doors.”

Days after the state amendment passed, Foxx responded to protests that the 2012 Democratic National Convention would be held in Charlotte.

“Well, look, the Democratic Party has already said the convention is staying in Charlotte and frankly if we had a referendum on every single issue that people disagree with, we wouldn’t have a convention anymore,” Foxx told CNN. “I think over time North Carolina will continue to evolve with this issue and many others.”

He added, “I would point out that Charlotte and the county in which it sits defeated the referendum by 54 percent to 44 percent margin.”

Foxx has been seen as largely supportive of other local LGBT issues. He was in favor of personnel policy changes protecting LGBT workers, instituted by former City Manager Curt Walton in April 2010 and December 2012. The mayor, a Democrat, also supported the addition of domestic partner benefits to the city’s budget in June 2012. Following a 14-year run by former Mayor Pat McCrory, now North Carolina’s governor, Foxx became the first sitting Charlotte mayor to address LGBT constituents in a public forum at the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte in December 2010.

But, Foxx has not been an outspoken proponent of other changes that would require the vote of City Council, including the addition of LGBT protections in the city’s Commercial Non-Discrimination Ordinance. The last time the city council voted on a stand-alone LGBT measure was in November 1992, when it defeated an inclusive public accommodations measure.

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.