Despite delays, Asheville council passes resolution supporting LGBTQ+ community

ASHEVILLE - After some delay around language, City Council passed a resolution June 13 in support of LGBTQ+ communities, specifically in opposition to the "sharp increase" of legislation targeting transgender and queer people across Western North Carolina.

It's what local advocacy organizations have said is the most anti-LGBTQ+ legislation seen on a national level in over a decade, and possibly the highest volume ever in the state.

Included in the city's resolution is a commitment to use "all of the tools at our disposal to shield our residents from the harmful impacts of such legislation."

"Resolutions are value statements, they are not the work," said council member Kim Roney, just before its passage. "We have a lot of work to do in our community to make it a safe and welcoming place for all the people who live, work and visit here.”

Previous reporting: Buncombe affirms support for LGBTQ community; Asheville resolution pending after delay

Divine Holeburn entertains a small crowd at Highland Brewing during Divine’s Drag Cabaret May 19, 2024. The show raised money for Asheville Poverty Initiative’s 12 Baskets Cafe.
Divine Holeburn entertains a small crowd at Highland Brewing during Divine’s Drag Cabaret May 19, 2024. The show raised money for Asheville Poverty Initiative’s 12 Baskets Cafe.

It's not first time the resolution has appeared on council's consent agenda — a slightly different version was originally up for adoption May 23, but before the vote, it was removed from consideration.

While there was "strong consensus" in support of the LGBTQ+ community, Mayor Esther Manheimer said they had not struck consensus around phrasing.

The resolution passed unanimously as part of the consent agenda June 13.

Council member Kim Roney said she brought the resolution to council in February, but there was redrafting "to remove any language that might be controversial." She voiced concerns around a lack of language in support of live performance and drag, and LGBTQ+ youths.

She said there was also an initial ask to delay the resolution in response to local bills pending in the legislature, and a concern that "there would be retaliation" in response to any statement of support for the LGBTQ+ community.

The new resolution does include affirmations of support for youths and teens, as well as "Pride celebrations, drag performances and LGBTQIA+ inclusion in every aspect of civic life."

"Though I'm disappointed by the missed opportunity to build coalition across the state and by our watered-down resolution," Roney said June 13 via text, "I appreciate the support through partner and public input that called for a return of supportive language for youth and performers, and I plan to support it."

'A positive vision'

George Swan Tuit offered public comment on the item, and expressed gratitude for the affirmation, specifically as it relates to queer and trans existence.

“Compromise and consensus can be difficult and so, today, the council should be celebrated," Tuit said. However, Tuit added, there is much more work to be done.

More: WNC Activists, drag queens and poli sci professors talk proposed anti-LGBTQ legislation

"It isn’t enough because the document fails to address the most frightening issue that motivated it. Namely, the mental state and physical dangers posed to the trans youth and teens in our time,” Tuit said. Tuit hoped to see more tangible action in the community, such as a committee charged with creating inclusive spaces in Asheville City Schools.

The resolution does note that access to safe, affirming spaces and gender-affirming healthcare is "critical" for the mental and physical health of LGBTQ+ people and teens in particular, who are four times more likely to consider suicide than their cisgender and heterosexual peers, according to The Trevor Project.

Sarah Honosky is the city government reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. News Tips? Email or message on Twitter at @slhonosky. Please support local, daily journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.

This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: As legislation looms, Asheville council affirms LGBTQ+ support