As Charlotte and North Carolina take the national spotlight for this year's Democratic National Convention, one area will get particular scrutiny: the region's climate for gays and lesbians.
September's convention comes on the heels of a statewide ballot question in May, where voters will decide whether a ban on same-sex marriage should be written into North Carolina's constitution. The timing highlights a possible source of tension come DNC time: Will lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) visitors feel welcome here? And what impressions of Charlotte will they take back with them to the rest of the nation?
"There's the potential that we're going to be greeted to the state with another one of those heinous marriage amendments," said Jerame Davis, interim executive director with the D.C.-based National Stonewall Democrats, a grassroots Democratic gay-rights organization. "That's definitely not putting out the welcome mat to LGBT people coming to the state."
Jeremy Kennedy is campaign manager with The Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families, which is organizing a grassroots statewide campaign focused on defeating the amendment. With plans to open a Charlotte office by the end of January, Kennedy said the group wants to build a lasting movement. Read more from The Charlotte Observer here.