Connie Vetter
Connie Vetter
Connie Vetter

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) will honor a local lesbian attorney for her dedication to advancing equality for LGBT North Carolinians.

Connie Vetter, who has been practicing law in Charlotte since 1994, will receive the group’s 2014 Sharon Thompson Award in February.

ACLU-NC is recognizing Vetter for her long career on behalf of LGBT citizens and residents.

“She has a passion for educating people about the law and speaks frequently on LGBT legal issues to organizations, college classes and professional forums,” the group said in a release. “She has arranged and spoken at numerous seminars to explain LGBT legal issues, including second parent adoption and the case against Amendment One.”

Vetter’s law practice has primarily focused on the needs of LGBT individuals and couples. Since moving to Charlotte, Vetter has also been heavily involved in local advocacy efforts, ultimately leading to expanded government workplace protections for LGBT workers at the city and Mecklenburg County. In 2004, she was appointed to a term on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee.

ACLU-NC also cites Vetter’s work organizing continuing education courses on LGBT issues for the Mecklenburg County Bar Association and her work on several local boards, including the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, NC GALA Institute for Equal Rights, North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Attorneys, Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee, Equality NC, Time Out Youth and OutCharlotte.

Vetter’s award is named in honor of Sharon Thompson, a former member of the North Carolina House of Representatives and lawyer who has worked on LGBT issues. Thompson also served as a past president of the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Association.

Other award winners include:

Lewis Pitts, a founder and managing attorney of Advocates for Children’s Services (ACS), a statewide project of Legal Aid of North Carolina. Pitts also participated in a wrongful death suit against the City of Greensboro, Ku Klux Klan, and American Nazi Party following the televised murder of five labor protesters who were shot and killed by members of the KKK and American Nazi Party but subsequently acquitted by an all-white jury.

Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, of Durham, for her longstanding work defending the civil liberties of all North Carolinians. Kinnaird retired from the state Senate this fall, after 17 years of public service. She has been a staunch defender of LGBT equality, women’s rights, religious liberties and the rights of those in the criminal justice system.

Bob Hurley, a two-decade veteran in advocacy work against the death penalty. In 2002, Hurley was appointed the first Capital Defender in the state by the North Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense Services (IDS Commission).  During the last eleven years, he has been responsible for the appointment and oversight of counsel in capital cases throughout the state. Under his direction, the Office of the Capital Defender has established regional offices in Wilmington, Winston-Salem and Asheville, in addition to the main office in Durham.

Learn more about the award winners at the ACLU-NC blog.

— Compiled from release