CHARLOTTE, N.C. — About a dozen local Democrats, including a Charlotte City Council member and a candidate for Congress, gathered at a small business in Plaza Midwood on Wednesday to begin the process of forming a local chapter of the LGBT Democrats of North Carolina.

“I’m really excited about organizing this chapter,” said Janice Covington, the 12th Congressional District chair of the statewide LGBT Democratic Party caucus and the organizer of the local meeting held at Sensibly Chic Interior Design on Lamar Ave.

The local caucus will follow several others already organized across the state, including one in neighboring Gaston County.

Robert John Kellogg, president of the Gaston County LGBT Democrats and secretary for the statewide caucus, told the nascent Mecklenburg chapter their presence will be important for affecting local and statewide change.

“I think we have a lot of power and a lot of possibility for us as community to have our voices  heard in the political arena,” Kellogg said. “We need to come together to form caucuses and influence politics not only on the outside but right on the inside of the Democratic Party because our party isn’t always perfect either. We need a voice inside our own party.”

Local Democratic Party caucuses have representation on county party executive committees. Its statewide caucus also has statewide representation.

Kellogg said he was happy Charlotte was finally joining the statewide group.

Charlotte City Councilmember Patsy Kinsey, who served as mayor for six months in 2013, attended and spoke briefly, as did George Battle, a Democratic candidate for the 12th Congressional District. Battle will face a May primary with several other candidates, including openly gay N.C. House Rep. Marcus Brandon (D-Guilford).

Battle said he was proud to support the formation of the local caucus.

“I don’t just accept you. I am you,” Battle said. “We are all connected in the same society. There is not just tolerance or acceptance. We are all as God made us and we are here together.”

According to state caucus rules, only five individuals are needed to form a local caucus, a goal local organizers easily reached by signing up 10 members on Wednesday. Officer elections, adoption of local bylaws and final caucus formation is expected to roll out over the next several monthly meetings. Another meeting is scheduled in February.

Matt Comer

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