TAMPA — From bullhorns to Bacharach, Wednesday offered a bit of everything to Mayor Bob Buckhorn:
Two cities, one Bank of America protest, one White House concert, and two timely vantage points to the national debate over gay marriage.
Buckhorn woke up in Charlotte, N.C., where he had flown Monday for a forum of the Urban Land Institute, a think tank helping Tampa sort through its urban redevelopment challenges.
But the headlines were all about the 61 percent of North Carolina voters who passed a state constitutional amendment defining marriage solely as a union of a man and a woman. The speculation was whether the vote would energize evangelical voters this fall.
Meeting with Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, Buckhorn compared notes on planning for the Republican and Democratic conventions that will be held in their cities. (Foxx has it harder, Buckhorn said, partly because he has to help raise money for his city's host committee. Buckhorn doesn't.)
Wednesday also was the day 500-plus protesters marched on a shareholders' meeting at Bank of America headquarters.
Walking downtown for a look, Buckhorn watched the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police bike unit steer the crowd through what he described as a peaceful and amicable protest.
If all goes as smoothly outside the Republican National Convention in August, "I'd be very happy," he said. "The Charlotte Police Department did a great job. The protesters were fine."
Hours later, the mayor flew — on his own dime, he notes — to Washington, D.C., where he met his wife, Dr. Cathy Lynch Buckhorn, for a White House concert honoring songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David. He sat three seats away from Stevie Wonder, who performed, as did Lyle Lovett, Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Arturo Sandoval and comedian Mike Myers.
Even though President Barack Obama was at the concert just hours after becoming the first sitting president to say same-sex couples should be able to get married, people weren't buzzing about it. With that crowd, Buckhorn said he would have expected it.
Back home, he got the question himself: Does he share the president's position? Not quite.
"People ought to be treated fairly" whatever their relationships, said Buckhorn, who is comfortable with civil unions and recently signed a local law creating the Tampa Bay area's first domestic partnership registry.
But it's a "very personal" issue, he said. "My positions have evolved. I'm not sure I'm entirely there yet. I also understand that it's an issue that we're going to have to deal with as a country, and certainly public opinion is trending that way as people get more and more comfortable with it."