The open letter was drafted at a December conference held by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute, which included LGBTQ leaders from many different realms — government, education, business and industry.
At the conference, representatives of the Victory Institute recruited LGBTQ elected officials to join the effort, which created the idea for the letter. Of the 156 LGBTQ elected officials who signed this open letter, four were from North Carolina, including Mayor of Carrboro Lydia Lavelle and Carrboro Board of Aldermen member Damon Seils.
Lavelle attended the conference for the first time in December and said Carrboro has been on the forefront of gay rights advocacy for many years, so the community feels strongly about it.
The effort made to reach out to the presidential administration has become a tradition as the LGBTQ community wishes to maintain good relations between the president and LGBTQ elected officials.
Many elected officials, including Lavelle, have expressed concern for Trump’s early cabinet appointments and policies regarding equality in marriage, jobs and the military.
“It’s such an era of unpredictability right now,” she said. “The president-elect’s firm position on LGBT rights are actually not really known — he has said very many different things over the years.”
Seils agreed that the letter was an important reminder for the LGBTQ community to form an alliance with the president-elect when possible.
“It has been tempting for some of us, since the election, to be depressed or angry or not know what to do next,” Seils said. “We felt that this was a good opportunity to make clear to the president-elect as well as to our own community that those who support the LGBT community will continue to fight for equality even if the new administration chooses to not be an ally.”
UNC graduate student Nikki Michaelson said she agreed with the letter’s purpose.
“I feel like this is a drop in the bucket of what needs to be done to maintain equality,” she said. “It is nice to know that things are being done and people are speaking up.”
Lavelle said her biggest wish for the letter was to remind the LGBTQ community of their strength and to convey this strength to Trump.
“Through this letter we hope to say, ‘Look at this group, look at what we are saying, listen to us, hear us and use your position as president to not roll back the advances toward equality that have been made,’” she said.