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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - In a budget meeting Wednesday night, city officials talked about offering benefits to same-sex partners of its employees. A formal recommendation will come from the city manager next month.
Roberta Dunn sits on the Board of Trustees for LGBT Charlotte, and says she's been trying for years to convince the city to adopt same-sex coverage. But it wasn't until last year that she got an encouraging response.
"The mayor asked a group of the LGBT community to come in and talk with him," she says.
Dunn believes the city's timing is related to the Democratic National Convention. In the past, she says, "Charlotte and Mecklenburg County haven't really passed a lot of legislation to protect LGBT people. If the people who are coming here for the DNC look at what benefits we had passed, they'd say this is not an LGBT friendly city."
Dunn says that's an impression Charlotte officials can't afford, and a big reason why they're considering same-sex benefit coverage now.
"I think they're really pushing hard for it," Dunn says. "We looked at all the other cities that the DNC has been at, and these cities have these same benefits."
"I've enjoyed watching all the gyrations that have gone on to make sure that they've dotted every 'I' and crossed every 'T' to be acceptable to the Democratic National Committee," says former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Dan Bishop.
Bishop supports Amendment One, the push to define marriage in North Carolina as the union between one man and one woman. Voters will decide on May 8th. The very next day, city council expects to hear that formal recommendation.
Bishop says whatever voters decide, it shouldn't affect the city's decision.
"The Amendment is not about denying benefits," he says.
But Dunn is worried about the effect it could have on the city's issue, if the Amendment passes. "It depends on how you read it," she says. But she's also incredibly excited. "It's close. It's closer than we've ever been, and the city deserves it."
Bishop, a Republican, says "our priorities in Charlotte ought to be meeting the needs and interests of Charlotteans, not fixing everything up perfectly so that the Democratic party will be satisfied."