Below is an open letter I penned today and sent to several members of the Winston-Salem community, including officers of the Forsyth County Democratic Party. Please share with those you might know who will have the responsibility of choosing state Sen. Earline Parmon’s replacement.
Hope all is well.
I’m writing an open letter to you in response to Sen. Parmon’s announced resignation.
I work as editor of QNotes, the Charlotte-based LGBT community newspaper of North Carolina. This morning we published online an article I wrote on Parmon’s resignation:
Despite my work at the newspaper, I felt strongly that it was important for me, as a Winston-Salem native, to reach out and share some of my personal thoughts on Parmon’s resignation and the opportunity it now presents Democrats in my hometown.
This new opening in the state Senate provides Democrats an opportunity to solve a social and political injustice for the Tar Heel State’s LGBT citizens and residents.
For the first time in a decade, LGBT North Carolinians have no open representation from a member of our community in the General Assembly. Our first open representative was Sen. Julia Boseman, but she left after the 2010 election. Our more recent representative, Rep. Marcus Brandon, didn’t run for reelection in 2014. Several openly gay candidates weren’t successful in their attempts to win a seat in the legislature last year.
As you know, the Republican-dominated General Assembly has already been unkind to the LGBT community, passing the anti-LGBT marriage amendment in 2011 and putting it on the ballot in 2012. In this new session, it’s widely expected — and Republican leaders have so far confirmed — that new legislation limiting the rights of LGBT people will be proposed. In fact, House Speaker Pro Tem Paul Stam will hold a legislative briefing next week, just one day before you choose Parmon’s replacement, on a bill that could legalize widespread discrimination against LGBT people, based solely on an individual’s so-called “deeply held religious beliefs.”
For the first time in ten years, when these discriminatory pieces of legislation come to the floor to debate, not a single voice among 170 legislators will be able to stand in our General Assembly’s hallowed chambers and speak with the personal, moral authority of having lived life as an openly LGBT person in this state. No open LGBT member will be able to look their colleagues in the eyes and say with passion, “What you’re doing today, this bill you are considering, it directly attacks ME and thousands of people just like me.”
This kind of personal perspective is essential in a democracy, and while it’s important for any minority, it’s doubly important for a minority like LGBT people, who have had only the most token representation in the state legislature.
I feel very strongly about this — so strongly that I wish I was not otherwise tied down by my job and other obligations in Charlotte, or else I’d volunteer myself to take on this responsibility in representing not only my hometown, but also a statewide community of LGBT people just like me and currently without political representation in this state.
I hope that you will use your opportunity on Jan. 29 to live up to our Democratic Party ideals of inclusion and affirmation. Please do the right thing — search out and find an open LGBT candidate who can give voice and presence for LGBT North Carolinians in our General Assembly.
Our party, guided by its principles, would never allow any other minority under attack to go without due representation in the debates affecting them; I hope we’ll stand strongly on behalf of our party’s LGBT constituents and this state’s LGBT citizens and residents.
With pride in my community, my hometown, my party and this great state, sincerely,
P.S. — Please feel more than free to share this email with your friends, colleagues, party activists and others.