Post submitted by Hope Jackson, Southern Regional Field Organizer
Yesterday, HRC President Chad Griffin joined our partners at the TurnOUT! North Carolina (NC) project, along with numerous local Charlotte leaders, to thank Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and the Charlotte City Council for not rescinding the city’s non-discrimination ordinance.
In March, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed into law HB2 - an outrageous and unprecedented anti-LGBT law that eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people; forced transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting 4.5 billion dollars in federal education funding alone at risk; and compelled the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in publicly-owned buildings, including in public universities, convention centers, and airports. Further, it gutted the existing ability of people who have been discriminated against - including on the basis of race, religion, and sex - to sue in state court, undermining critical discrimination protections for all. In recent weeks, it had become clear that Charlotte City Council members were feeling intense pressure from both leaders in Raleigh and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce to rescind the LGBT non-discrimination ordinance, which passed earlier this year in a 7-4 vote.
TurnOUT! NC, a coalition of HRC, Equality North Carolina, the ACLU and the Campaign for Southern Equality, gathered earlier during the day with over 40 supporters for the “Transgender North Carolinians Families and Friends Against HB 2” press conference. Together, these advocates urged the city council to stand strong and not rescind the vital ordinance.
Following the press conference, over a dozen TurnOUT! NC field organizers and local supporters of the ordinance demonstrated outside of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. They called on the Chamber to stop bullying the city council and to stand up and fight against discrimination and against HB 2.
“We had several conversations over the weekend,” Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said at a city council meeting last night, “We heard from a lot of people, we got a lot of input and feedback and we concluded that a discussion of HB 2 by the city council would not be helpful in advancing a solution to the ongoing challenges.”
HRC’s President Chad Griffin was present at the evening meeting and thanked the council for their leadership and resolve.
“Thank you for continuing to stand up and stand your ground today by defending the equal rights and equal dignity of all LGBT people...for that leadership, we say thank you,” he said.
Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, was also present in the Charlotte City Council Chambers.
“I want to thank you for the wonderful work you did in February on the non-discrimination ordinance,” she said. “Right now transgender people are under attack in North Carolina and around the country...thank you so much for listening and being a hope for them. Thank you so much for being strong.”
Openly lesbian Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield, a champion for Charlotte’s ordinance, took the opportunity to speak to legislative leaders in Raleigh directly.
“Do your job,” she said. “Fix the mess that you made instead of looking to Charlotte, which was expanding our ordinance to protect our people.”
TurnOUT! NC is working to mobilize thousands of pro-equality North Carolinians to speak out for full repeal of HB2. If you live in North Carolina and want to join the efforts to repeal HB2, RSVP for upcoming phone banks and volunteer opportunities. For more information about our work in North Carolina, contact HRC Associate Regional Field Director Ryan Rowe at Ryan.firstname.lastname@example.org.