May 23, 2016 at 11:29 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Charlotte unlikely to repeal LGBT ordinance in HB2 compromise
North Carolina, gay news, Washington Blade

Charlotte won’t repeal its ordinance as part of a compromise to undo House Bill 2. (Screen capture courtesy WRAL)

Amid reports a potential compromise was in the works over North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law in which Charlotte would repeal its LGBT non-discrimination ordinance, such a move now seems unlikely in the aftermath of the removal of the issue from the Charlotte City Council agenda Monday night.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts affirmed at the start of the city council weekly meeting discussion wouldn’t take place on the ordinance, which state lawmakers cited as the reason for enacting House Bill 2.

“There will be no discussion item or action item on HB 2 tonight on our agenda,” Roberts said. “I have been talking to council members and others throughout this day. Collectively, we concluded that discussion of HB 2 by the city council tonight would not be helpful in advancing a solution to ongoing challenges of HB 2.”

LGBT advocates had urged the Charlotte City Council to resist repealing its ordinance, which was nullified by House Bill 2, amid calls to do so as part of a compromise openly suggested by Charlotte Chamber CEO Bob Morgan. Under the compromise, after Charlotte repealed its LGBT non-discrimination ordinance, the state legislature would undo HB 2.

Later in the meeting, Republican Charlotte City Council member Kenny Smith proposed a resolution to place repealing the ordinance on the agenda for Wednesday. The proposal failed 7-4, the same vote in which the council approved the resolution in February. It appears based on that vote the city council won’t act to repeal its ordinance in the future as part of any compromise.

Smith had stern words for Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, whom he blamed for the estimated $567 million in loss of business to the North Carolina as a result of HB 2.

“I just want to go officially on the record supporting the chamber in criticizing the HRC for the language they used towards them to imply they’re bigots when they’re in their mind working for a way to expand LGBT rights throughout our community,” Smith said. “It’s easy for Chad Griffin to come down here and wag his finger. He lives in, I think, Washington, D.C. He doesn’t have to live through the consequences of our inaction.”

Charlotte City Council member LaWana Mayfield, a Democrat, spoke out against repealing the ordinance during the meeting, saying the responsibility to take action rests squarely with the state legislature that enacted HB 2.

“We didn’t have any business tell Charlotte, ‘You know what? Y’all passed this ordinance, so we’re leaving,'” Mayfield said. “No. In fact, we had business lined up to come immediately after we passed our ordinance. It wasn’t until weeks later that our General Assembly passed legislation that was sweeping that business said, ‘You know what? That is not where we want to take our employees because we care enough about our employees that we want them to be protected.'”

Signed into law by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory after a single day of deliberation by the state legislature, HB 2 undoes all pro-LGBT city non-discrimination ordinances in the state, including the one recently enacted in Charlotte, and prohibits transgender people from using public restrooms in schools and government buildings consistent with their gender identity.

Prior to the vote, the council heard remarks from individuals seeking to meet public statements, which Monday night included national and local LGBT advocates.

Among them was Griffin, who referred to HB 2 as a “nightmare” and said responsibility rests solely on the legislature to correct it.

“There is only one entity to blame, there is only one governor who signed HB 2 and there is only one solution to the nightmare that he created, and that is a full and complete repeal of HB 2,” Griffin said.

Mara Keisling, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, also spoke and later praised the council for deciding against repealing the ordinance.

“We are extremely pleased that the Charlotte city council is standing strong with transgender people in Charlotte,” Keisling said. “Gov. McCrory and the legislature have been looking for anyone else to blame for the catastrophe they caused. The only solution to this problem is repealing HB 2.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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