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Charlotte Non-Discrimination Ordinance Coalition condemns City Council rejection of LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections

Rejection follows heated public debate, divisive and prejudiced effort to malign LGBT people

Charlotte, NC (March 2, 2015) — The Charlotte Non-Discrimination Ordinance Coalition is condemning Charlotte City Council’s decision on Monday to reject amendments to local non-discrimination ordinances. The measures would have added sexual orientation and gender identity, among other characteristics, to already protected classes in four city non-discrimination ordinances. Their action repeats a similar rejection of inclusive non-discrimination protections made by Council in November 1992.

The Council defeated the omnibus non-discrimination measure 6-5, following amendments to the public accommodation portion that excluded LGBT protections in public restrooms, locker rooms, showers, and changing facilities.

The CNDOC released the following statement:

"For the second time in our city’s history, Charlotte City Council has shown it does not have the courage or the conviction to stand for full fairness and equality. More than two decades ago, Council members shamelessly rejected similar public accommodations protections. In repeating that sad legacy on Monday, Council chose to listen to the divisive, prejudiced rhetoric of out-of-town special interests who have been behind recent attacks on the rights of LGBT people across the state and across the country. They have proven they will stop at nothing to malign and discriminate against LGBT citizens and residents."

These safe and equitable protections have been adopted by 17 states and more than 200 local governments across the country with no ill effect, including in Bessemer City, Greensboro, Raleigh and Winston-Salem, and in South Carolina’s Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

Representatives from the Coalition added, "Charlotte’s decision tonight moves the city backward not forward and shows a continued lack of commitment to fair treatment of all its citizens and residents. This coalition will not stop lobbying Council for these changes and will bring them back to city leaders for future consideration. We thank our Council champions and those who supported the original measure, placing full equality over discrimination."

As Qnotes reported, a failed proposal, amended by Democratic Councilmember Vi Lyles and seconded by openly gay, Democratic Councilmember Al Austin, came after hearing nearly four hours of public comment with speakers passionately supporting and opposing the measures, with a great deal of debate and contention focusing on transgender people’s use of restrooms. Democratic Councilmembers LaWana Mayfield and John Autry opposed Lyles’ motion to amend the ordinances, arguing that they wanted the original full proposal. They were joined in voting against the proposal by Democrats Michael Barnes and Greg Phipps and Republicans Ed Driggs and Kenny Smith.

If passed, Charlotte would have become the first city in North Carolina to pass LGBT-inclusive public accommodations and other protections. Other ordinances proposed for amending — adding marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression — included commercial contracting, passenger vehicles for hire and regulations for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee.

The Charlotte Non-Discrimination Ordinance Coalition (CNDOC) includes the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC), Charlotte Business Guild, Clergy for Equality, Equality NC, Human Rights Campaign, LGBT Democrats of Mecklenburg County, Genderlines, Straight Allies Charlotte, Democracy NC and ACLU of North Carolina.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Jonah Hermann, Equality NC, (920) 860.1416, jonah@equalitync.org

Scott Bishop, MeckPAC, (704) 968.8269, sbishop2@carollina.rr.com

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