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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Democratic National Convention 2012 Notebook: A challenge to Democrats and rebuke to Republicans on gay rights

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 9:42 AM

On Tuesday, President Obama issued a proclamation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month that saluted the “story about the struggle to realize the great American promise that all people can live with dignity and fairness under the law.” His statement said, in part: “Each June, we commemorate the courageous individuals who have fought to achieve this promise for LGBT Americans, and we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.” The statement listed “significant progress” his administration has made toward that goal, including his signing the repeal of the military’s "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

On Wednesday, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in her statement: “This Pride Month, we recommit to this struggle for equality as we strive to finally make injustice and inequality things of the past.”

Last Wednesday, Mitchell Gold expressed his views on how the two political parties are doing. Gold is not too fond of Republican policy on equality for the LGBT community. But he doesn’t give the Democrats a pass. The North Carolina furniture manufacturer and gay rights activist thinks the Democratic convention in 2012 provides a perfect opportunity for the party to take a stand.

As keynote speaker at the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund 4th Annual Happening, Gold called on Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and President Barack Obama — both Democrats — to say: “’Yes, we are the party of equality.’” Gold acknowledged that last week’s event featuring community and business leaders was not a scene he could have imagined when he was a young, gay man finding his way in middle-class New Jersey. But he said the country and North Carolina have far to go toward LGBT equality.

He called attention to N.C. Senate bill 106/House bill 777 that would amend the state’s constitution to recognize as valid only marriage between a man and a woman and urged the crowd gathered at the Omni hotel to contact Senate leader Phil Berger and House speaker Thom Tillis of Mecklenburg County. Opponents fear the bills would take away rights already available to some couples. Gold noted that his longtime union is recognized in the heartland state of Iowa but not in North Carolina, the home of his business Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams in Taylorsville for more than 20 years.

He said there are “two kinds of Republicans,” those who emphasize lower taxes and national security and those who focus on social issues, such as abortion and gay marriage. When a Republican friend assured Gold that he stood in the first camp, Gold said he replied, “Don’t do me any favors.” His advice? “Go change your party.”

In 2005, Gold founded Faith in America to fight the “religion-based bigotry” that he said particularly harms vulnerable teens. He also edited the 2008 book Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America.

Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning Charlotte, N.C.-based journalist, is a contributor to The Root, NPR, Creative Loafing and the Nieman Watchdog blog. Her “Keeping It Positive” segment airs Wednesdays at 7:10 on TV’s Fox News Rising Charlotte, and she was national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mcurtisnc3.

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