Tuesday was one of the most important days in history for LGBT people, as the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case on marriage equality for the first time. We at qnotes were naturally curious and reached out to local officials shortly before noon on Tuesday to see where they stood on marriage equality and the two historic cases in front of the Supreme Court.
By around 6:30 p.m. that evening, we received just four statements from the 21 elected officials we contacted.
Per usual, the first response was from Republican Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James, known for his conservative, anti-LGBT leanings. Supportive remarks were issued by County Commission Chairwoman Pat Cotham and at-large Charlotte Councilmembers Claire Fallon and Beth Pickering.
While Mayor Anthony Foxx made no statement, his press secretary did: “Mayor’s unavailable for comment today. Sorry!” After a follow-up on Wednesday, the response from Foxx’s office was even blunter: “No comment.”
Where were your LGBT-friendly elected officials? Even after a second request on Wednesday, no new responses were received. The city’s first and only openly gay or lesbian elected official, Charlotte Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield, also made no effort to issue a statement of support for LGBT people to qnotes. Neither did longtime ally and Councilmember Patsy Kinsey.
A pattern of silence has emerged time and time again when this newspaper tries to reach out to those officials this community has so loyally supported year in and year out, election after election.
It’s important to note one singular exception, the elected representative who has without fail responded to this newspaper’s request for comment is Bill James. He is either the first or the only local official to respond when this newspaper seeks comment on the LGBT issues we report in our community.
It’s unfortunate that the only consistent conversation from elected officials that qnotes receives is from its most strident foe.
For years, LGBT community members have supported many of the individuals who currently sit on our city council and county commission. On such an important, historic day, what do we get for those years of support — in money, in volunteer campaign time, in our votes? Silence.
What a sad, sad commentary, indeed.