FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 23, 2016
Contact: Elliot Imse, [email protected], 646.957.4740
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Today, LGBTQ leaders and public officials in North Carolina discussed the political environment and the critical importance of LGBTQ lawmakers in the wake of HB2 and the recent mass hate crime in Orlando. The discussion – moderated by Victory Institute President & CEO Aisha Moodie-Mills – emphasized the indispensable role LGBTQ elected leaders play in preventing measures like HB2. The panel kicked off an intensive, four-day training that prepares LGBTQ people to run for office.
“State and local legislatures are now the front lines for efforts to strip the rights and protections of LGBTQ people,” Moodie-Mills said. “We are in Charlotte training the LGBTQ candidates of the future because we know that representation matters, and that more LGBTQ lawmakers result in fewer anti-LGBTQ bills and higher state equality.”
There was also consensus among panelists that LGBTQ elected officials can influence straight colleagues by humanizing LGBTQ people and issues, making it more difficult for lawmakers to propose anti-LGBTQ legislation. Recent Victory Institute research shows LGBTQ lawmakers were important to the votes of a majority of straight lawmakers who voted on pro-LGBTQ legislation in their states.
“When the discriminatory HB2 bill passed in March, there were no LGBTQ members of the General Assembly to explain to fellow lawmakers how it would impact real people’s lives,” said LaWana Mayfield, the first openly LGBTQ member of the Charlotte City Council. “Without representation in the legislature, our community has dramatically less influence on the legislative process. That is why we need to cultivate, train and support LGBTQ people considering a run for office and vote for strong LGBTQ candidates.”
As the conversation turned toward the tragedy in Orlando, panelists commented on the growing consensus among movement leaders and elected officials that gun violence is an LGBTQ issue, and that LGBTQ elected officials are often important to advancing gun control measures and other causes like reproductive freedom and economic empowerment.
“It has been a difficult week and half for the LGBTQ community,” said state Representative Chris Sgro from his office in Raleigh. “Forty-nine souls were taken in a brutal act of hateful violence. Many of them were people of color and we will never forget them. It was an act that shocked the community and the nation to its core. Here in North Carolina it is an especially painful time. HB2 is a stark reminder in the wake of the Orlando massacre that words matter and policy has a direct impact on our daily lives. LGBTQ elected officials serve as a direct voice for LGBTQ North Carolinians in this difficult time.”
State Senator Mike Woodard, also on the panel, reiterated the importance of having openly LGBTQ lawmakers in the legislature. The Victory Institute Candidate & Campaign Training takes place Thursday, June 23 through Sunday, June 26.
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Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute
The Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute works to increase the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in public office and to provide programming, service, and other support to ensure their success.