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HRC, Equality NC Blast North Carolina Special Session to Overturn Charlotte Ordinance

by Brandon Lorenz March 21, 2016

The North Carolina legislature has called a special session for Wednesday, March 23, to overturn Charlotte's recently passed non-discrimination ordinance that provides much-needed protections for LGBT residents. You can help stop this –send a message to Governor Pat McCrory and state legislative leadership to show your support for Charlotte's non-discrimination protections.

Today, HRC and Equality North Carolina blasted the leaders of the North Carolina legislature for taking the outrageous step of calling a costly special session for this Wednesday to undermine Charlotte’s recently passed non-discrimination ordinance.

"It is absolutely shameful that North Carolina lawmakers are going to waste taxpayer dollars trying to strip local control from the city of Charlotte and its citizens. Worse yet, they’re doing so to advance discrimination and put North Carolina on the wrong side of history,” said Marty Rouse, National Field Director for the Human Rights Campaign.  “The people of Charlotte elected a pro-equality mayor and a pro-equality majority to the City Council. Those leaders decided that it was in the best interest of Charlotte to provide local protections for the residents and visitors in their community.  This attempt to strip away local control from Charlotte is a slap in the face to the people of Charlotte and the democratic process. We urge all fair-minded North Carolinians to let their elected officials know that they should stay out of Charlotte's business and focus on the real issues that voters all across the state actually care about.”

"Tonight the North Carolina General Assembly has let us know loud and clear that it does not understand the priorities of North Carolina,”said Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro. “Speaker Moore and Senator Berger have said that they will come back into session later this week to consider legislation which would overturn non-discrimination protections across the state. This special session will cost $42,000 per day -- more than the average starting salary for a teacher in North Carolina. That waste of taxpayer money is negligent. 200+ cities across the country including Myrtle Beach and Columbia, South Carolina, have already enacted protections which mirror Charlotte. In none of these cities have these protections created a public safety risk, to indicate otherwise is a lie. This is an act of political theatre and at this point Governor McCrory must stand up and be what we expect from an executive and reject any legislation that comes out of this special session."

Last month, by a 7-4 vote, and with the strong support of newly elected Mayor Jennifer Roberts, the Charlotte City Council advanced city-wide non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, despite the threat of state intervention by Republican Governor Pat McCrory. Since the ordinance passed, dozens of North Carolina lawmakers have spoken out against the measure making baseless claims about the transgender community, referring to the ordinance as a “public safety” and “privacy” issue. With the General Assembly scheduled to reconvene on April 25, and the ordinance set to go into effect on April 1, House Speaker Tim Moore rallied support in both chambers for this special session to undermine these crucial protections. According to reports, the state’s most recent special session to address redistricting cost taxpayers $42,000 a day, a hefty price tag that is also expected for this special session.

In a scathing editorial published just before the City Council’s vote, the Charlotte Observer rightfully took the Governor to task for his abhorrent hypocrisy on LGBT issues. Throughout his career Gov. McCrory has been an outspoken opponent of government entities meddling in local affairs, but has now threatened state action to forbid cities from enacting LGBT non-discrimination ordinances. His likely gubernatorial challenger, Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, who has been criticized for refusing to overturn the order, has alreadycalled on state lawmakers to stop intervening in Charlotte’s local matters and prioritize issues that “help North Carolina families and  help public education.”

Prior to last month’s vote, Charlotte remained one of the largest cities in the country without a law explicitly protecting LGBT residents and visitors from discrimination. Last November, TurnOut! Charlotte successfully helped elect a pro-equality majority to the the Charlotte City Council, a move which cleared the way for last month’s victory.

Brandon Lorenz
Brandon Lorenz


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