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A North Carolina senator and Charlotte mayoral candidate has apologized to an LGBT activist over a tweet some found offensive, though the fight is likely to carry over into the city’s Democratic mayoral primary.
Sen. Joel Ford Wednesday apologized to Matt Comer for a tweet that depicted a defecating dog, calling it “inappropriate.”
Ford came after someone on Twitter – not Comer – who had criticized the senator as “homophobic.” Comer jumped in with criticism of Ford, leading to the tweet with the dog.
But in a statement, Ford said, “To provide context, I am tired of being slandered by some people on Twitter as anti-LGBT and homophobic. I have worked to find solutions that are realistic and impactful but some people do not see it that way.”
LGBT issues are certain to be an issue in a Democratic mayoral primary against incumbent Jennifer Roberts and Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles. The LGBT community is a strong Democratic constituency.
Roberts and Lyles supported the 2016 Charlotte ordinance that extended anti-discrimination protections to the LGBT community and would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity in government buildings. The ordinance prompted N.C. lawmakers to pass House Bill 2, which nullified the Charlotte ordinance and limited LGBT rights.
Roberts in particular has been outspoken on the issue.
Comer, the former editor of an LGBT paper in Charlotte, has been critical of Ford’s position on LGBT issues.
Last session Ford voted for the so-called magistrates bill. The Republican-sponsored measure would have allowed civil magistrates to recuse themselves from performing same-sex marriages. He did join most Democrats in voting not to override then-Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of the measure.
Ford also has supported compromise measures to repeal HB2, breaking with LGBT groups.
“There are significant concerns among LGBT leaders about where Joel Ford stands on LGBT equality,” Comer said Wednesday. “He has been a supporter of compromises that will end up doing more harm to the LGBT community than good.”
Matt Hirschy, director of advancement for Equality NC, the state’s largest gay rights group, said he has “grave concerns” about Ford’s record.
Ford said he supports LGBT rights but won’t be “bullied or intimidated.” He said he supported the city’s ordinance, though not the bathroom provision. And he defended his support for a compromise that would repeal HB2.
“For some (LGBT) leaders it’s clean repeal or nothing, that’s not reality,” he said. “I agree that LGBT protections are important. But so are jobs, so are safe neighborhood and high-performing neighborhood schools.”
The tweet, since deleted, showed a dog standing to defecate in the snow. He said he saw it as a dog who was being creative in an uncomfortable situation. Comer called it “disgusting (and) inappropriate.”
Sam Spencer, a spokesman for Roberts, declined to comment. Lyles said she found the tweet “offensive.”