Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx backs same-sex marriage

Transportation Secretary and former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx said Monday that he supported gay marriage and that North Carolina was wrong when it passed its law banning same-sex marriage.

While he’s considered an ally to the gay community, his comments at the White House were the first time he’d spoken publicly in favor of gay marriage.

“I support same-sex marriage,” Foxx said. “Who someone loves should never be an issue at work or anyplace else.”

Foxx was pulled off script into the marriage debate while at the White House promoting the administration’s push for infrastructure spending and the Grow America Act, which it sent to Congress last week. The White House is looking to keep the Highway Trust Fund going and to increase annual spending for roads and bridges.

During a news briefing, Foxx was asked about a U.S. Court of Appeals review of Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage and how it might affect North Carolina. The question came from Chris Johnson, White House reporter for the Washington Blade, a paper that covers issues in the gay, lesbian and transgender community.

Foxx spoke about his support for the Charlotte gay community and took a swipe at the former Mayor Pat McCrory, who’s now North Carolina’s governor.

“I was the first mayor to even go meet with the LGBT community,” Foxx said. “I was, unlike my predecessor, someone who went out and _ and went to the annual Human Rights Campaign dinner and signed a letter. I did a lot of things. But this is a place where I think the country’s attitudes are shifting. And _ and I think North Carolina got it wrong.”

Foxx‘s comments are “wonderful news,” according to Matt Comer, the editor of Q-Notes, a Charlotte-based newspaper for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. But Comer said he wished the comments had come when Foxx was still the mayor and the community was battling the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

When he spoke in 2012 at the North Carolina gala for Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Foxx said he’d vote against the constitutional ban. He also supported domestic partner benefits and personnel policy changes that protected gay and lesbian city workers.

There’s no question in Comer’s mind that the city made great strides under Foxx. But Comer said Foxx could have been a stronger mayor for the gay community.

During his time in Charlotte, Foxx never said specifically that he supported same-sex marriage or equal rights for gay couples, Comer said.

“It could have been a big help in 2012,” Comer said.