Gay rights have emerged as a contentious issue in the Raleigh mayoral race, creating some of the most heated rhetoric to date.
Both Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Democratic challenger Charles Francis refer to themselves as strong supporters of LGBTQ rights. However, both have encountered sometimes-oblique criticism of their records.
On October 23, Equality NC's political action committee rescinded its endorsement of Francis, whom the group had co-endorsed along with McFarlane. The PAC cited Francis's lack of public advocacy on the issue, along with his campaign contributions from conservative politicians and public figures who had backed Amendment 1 and HB 2.
Then, on October 26, the Human Rights Campaign released a scorecard of U.S. cities based on "how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people who live and work there." The nonprofit's analysis gave Raleigh—under McFarlane's leadership—a grade of 60 on a scale of 100, placing it below Greensboro (82) and Durham (69).
Both candidates disputed criticisms of their records on LGBTQ issues. Francis said criticisms of the politics of some of his supporters were unjustified, citing the diversity of his supporters and pointing out that McFarlane had also received donations from people who supported candidates in favor of HB 2.
For her part, McFarlane spoke up for Raleigh's inclusion of LGBTQ people, noting that the HRC survey did not measure work done by such nonprofits as the LGBT Center of Raleigh.