The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners will consider a proposal at a private retreat today and tomorrow, looking to study the issue of offering domestic partner benefits to county employees.
Any move by the Commission in the next couple days won’t institute benefits, but rather instruct county employees to study the possibility.
Still, outspoken, conservative Commissioner Bill James (R) says the Commission shouldn’t even be discussing the issue. He says it is illegal to offer these benefits, in part because LGBT people are criminals (he cites North Carolina’s “sodomy statute,” or Crimes Against Nature statute).
In an email to constituents and the media on Monday, James used an anti-transgender slur to refer to transgender people and accused bisexuals of being promiscuous and living in threeway relationships.
The Charlotte Observer reports that straight-ally Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts is pushing the issue:
But Roberts said the issue is about offering a benefits package that is fair and competitive. “I think (extending the benefits) shows that you’re keeping up with what’s going on in the marketplace,” Roberts said. “It shows that you are moving forward and that you’re trying to treat employees with fairness.”
Statement from the Mecklenburg Gay and Lesbian Political Action Committee (MeckPAC):
Mecklenburg Gay & Lesbian Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) is pleased that the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners has begun researching the issue of domestic partner benefits for the county’s employees. MeckPAC will ensure that County Commissioners have the most accurate resources available to help guide their decision-making on this important issue. Mecklenburg County lags far behind many businesses and other similar-sized municipal governments who have long ago enacted policies that provide such benefits. Top-notch recruitment/retention of county employees, as well as the strong message it sends that Charlotte is an inclusive and welcoming place to live and work, are major reasons why providing employee benefits equitably is so vitally important.
Update: So I posted so quickly this morning my blurb about a local media group was wrong. Oops. Sorry.
No Carolinas media outlet, save Q-Notes, has called James out on his use of slurs or prejudicial stereotypes.
The Observer has an online poll up… Should the County extend benefits to domestic partners. As of Thursday morning, “NO” was clearly in the lead. Visit The Observer‘s site to vote.