Equality in Buncombe County – ACTIONBy
Tomorrow, your Buncombe County Commission will deliberate regarding equality in their health benefits and non-discrimination policy. On the agenda: Same-sex domestic partner benefits. Also likely to be discussed is whether to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the County’s employment non-discrimination policy. The latter is not on the printed agenda, and in order to consider it according to their rules, all seven Commissioners must agree to do so.
You’re encouraged to attend the meeting on Tuesday, March 19 at 4:30pm in the Commissioners’ Chambers at 200 College Street, Suite 326 in downtown Asheville. If you’d like to email the Commissioners to let them know your position, you can use this handy list:
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After the jump you can read the email I sent earlier today. I’m excited to see our Commissioners have this opportunity to join the march of history toward full equality for all of our citizens.
They will not know your position unless you show up at the meeting or take a moment to write your representatives.
Chairman Gantt and County Commissioners,
Thank you so much for considering equality for our LGBT citizens who are also county employees. It’s so important that we end the institutional exclusion of people just for being who they are and loving who they love. Anything short of full equality is a missed opportunity, so I appreciate your willingness to support extending employee benefits to same-sex domestic partners and adding language to your personnel ordinance that will explicitly protect various gender identities and sexual orientations.
We’ve had these policies in place in Asheville, and I’ve had many employees come to me privately to let me know how the adoption of these policies have made it a more safe and accepting workplace.
Further, since Asheville’s leadership on this, two of our largest employers – Mission Hospital and Care Partners – have adopted policies of equality regarding health benefits. I can only imagine who else will come on board once you have sent the message that equality is the ethic of Buncombe County. It will certainly send a strong message to employers considering locating here that we do not discriminate.
I understand that some folks misunderstand these policies, but I’m confident that each of you will recognize that anything short of full equality is a statement of disapproval to all of your LGBT employees and to every LGBT citizen in Buncombe County. I know there’s none of you who would tell a gay citizen that they didn’t deserve health care or non-discrimination, so I’ll be happy to congratulate you all after tomorrow’s vote.
With respect and anticipation,