LGBTQ Orgs Endorse Candidates Who Supported Trump’s RNC Coming to Charlotte

Trump's anti-LGBTQ record wasn't enough to deter the candidates, nor Equality NC and MeckPAC from backing them.

The Trump administration has been notoriously harmful to the LGBTQ community, hate crimes have increased under his watch, and his rallies have been marred by violence, much of which he has encouraged from the stage.

When the Republican National Committee was casting about for a city to host the 2020 Republican National Convention, only Charlotte remained in the end as the lone city willing to take on the event that every other potential host decided was too toxic to touch.

Vi Lyles
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Mayor Vi Lyles (above) invited the convention to Charlotte and has said she does not regret that decision, despite backlash from progressives throughout the city.

The only member of council to raise concerns from the start is also the only LGBTQ member of city council, LaWana Mayfield. The rest of council said they were in support of it, but following community pressure held a vote, in July of 2018, in which five council members voted against hosting the RNC and six voted in favor. Lyles did not get a vote.

Among those voting in favor of hosting the RNC were Councilmembers Larken Egleston and Julie Eiselt, both Democrats, like the mayor.

Both the state LGBTQ advocacy group, Equality North Carolina, and the local organization, MeckPAC, have endorsed Egleston and Eiselt in their re-election bids in spite of their votes. MeckPAC has also endorsed Lyles, while Equality NC declined to endorse anyone in this year’s Charlotte mayoral race, despite endorsing candidates in mayoral races in other cities throughout the state, including in Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh.

Egleston is running for re-election in District 1 and has a progressive challenger in the Democratic primary in would-be first-time politician Sean Smith, who has said he would have voted against the RNC coming to Charlotte.

Eiselt is one of seven Democrats running for four available at-large seats. Three of those candidates voted against hosting the RNC: Councilmembers Dimple Ajmera, Mayfield, and Braxton Winston.

Councilmember James “Smuggie” Mitchell, Jr. is also running for re-election, and he, like Eiselt, voted in favor of hosting the RNC. The remaining two candidates in the at-large race would be first-time politicians if elected: Chad Stachowicz and Jorge Millares. Millares has called for Charlotte to rescind the offer to host the RNC.

Trump protest Charlotte
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Protesters gather across the street as a motorcade with President Trump arrives for a fundraiser at the Carmel Country Club, August 31, 2018 in Charlotte.

Lyles appears on her way to an easy victory, with no challenger emerging with name recognition, and a campaign account with funds far in excess of any of her opponents.

Early voting is already underway in the primary, and as there are considerably more registered Democrats than there are Republicans in the county, many if not all of the seats will be won by whomever is victorious in that race. Primary Election Day is September 10, with the general election taking place November 5.

Anti-Trump protester
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Anti-Trump protester in New York City, November 12, 2016.

MeckPAC and Equality NC have both received criticism from the local LGBTQ community and its allies for the groups’ decisions to back candidates who supported the RNC coming to Charlotte.

“Some of our picks are the same, some are different,” MeckPAC wrote in the caption of a post sharing Equality NC’s endorsements in the Charlotte races. “We encourage all voters to make their best, most informed decision based on our endorsements, other organizations’ endorsements and your own priorities as an individual voter.”

“I am very disappointed that both Equality NC and MeckPAC chose to back candidates who supported bringing the RNC to town,” said Paige Dula, co-founder of Genderlines, an advocacy and support organization for the transgender and gender nonconforming community.

“What was their selection criteria? It’s okay to recommend no one in a race. It’s okay to admit that there is no outstanding choice.”

anti-Trump protester
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Rutgers University students stage a walk out to protest Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, November 16, 2016.

“Our mayor and city council are bringing trouble to our city, possibly like Charlottesville,” said Janice Covington Allison, who was recently named as the statewide chair for the newly-formed Transgender Caucus within the Democratic Party.

Allison said Lyles was also “complicit” in the HB2 compromise bill, HB142, which kept much of the same anti-LGBTQ discrimination in place, until at least 2020, including preventing cities from adding LGBTQ people to nondiscrimination ordinances.

Lyles was one of four council members who broke with then-Mayor Jennifer Roberts to meet with state legislators to work out a compromise.

Neither Equality NC nor MeckPAC responded to numerous requests for comment for this story.

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