Under the Dome

Head of LGBT rights group named to legislature

In a pointed statement in the battle over transgender discrimination in North Carolina, Guilford County Democrats reportedly have named the leader of the state’s LGBT rights organization to the General Assembly as a temporary appointment.

Chris Sgro of Greensboro, executive director of Equality N.C., posted on his Facebook page on Saturday morning that he had been appointed to fill out the term of Rep. Ralph Johnson, who died last month after a stroke.

“Friends, it is my honor to be appointed to the remainder of Representative Ralph Johnson’s unexpired term,” the Facebook entry says. “Ralph was a great leader for Greensboro and I have big shoes to fill. Amos Quick will fill the seat after January and have my support, but GCDP stepped up to make sure there is at least one LGBT voice in the NCGA as we push to ‪#RepealHB2‬ in the short session. I’m humbled by this morning. Onward!”

Quick, a county school board member, defeated Johnson in the Democratic primary for the District 58 seat. The term begins in January, but the legislature will convene for a short session April 25. Johnson was elected to the House in 2014, filling the seat left open when Alma Adams ran for Congress.

Sgro’s nomination by the county party executive committee goes to the governor, who is required to make it official with his approval.

The choice of Sgro comes as the state has been embroiled over the enactment of House Bill 2, which precluded cities and counties from extending nondiscrimination rights to transgender people. It was sparked by the Charlotte City Council, which passed an ordinance allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their gender identity.

Equality N.C. has led the fight against the new law, much as it led the unsuccessful fight against amending the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. Sgro has been executive director since 2013.

Before that he was involved in national and state political campaigns, and was director of economic development for former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat from North Carolina. He’s a native of Pennsylvania and married Ryan Butler in a ceremony in Canada, and then received a marriage license in Guilford County.

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