Despite pressure from Gov. Pat McCrory and business groups seeking relief under economic pressure to North Carolina, Charlotte once again won’t act on a proposed compromise to undo its LGBT non-discrimination ordinance in exchange for repeal of the state’s anti-LGBT law.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who in February led the Charlotte City Council in enacting the ordinance, said in a statement the council won’t act to rescind the ordinance during its evening meeting Monday, when observers speculated repeal might come up.
“The City of Charlotte continues its commitment to be a welcoming that honors and respects all people,” Roberts said. “We appreciate the state wanting to find a solution to the challenges we are facing and applaud the governor for recognizing the state should overturn HB2, which the state can do at any time without any action from the City of Charlotte. We are not prepared to add this item to our agenda this evening, however, we urge the state to take action as soon as possible and encourage continued dialogue with the broader community.”
The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce urged Charlotte to undo its LGBT non-discrimination ordinance in exchange for legislative repeal of HB2. LGBT advocates said the proposed compromise was engineered by McCrory, who’s facing political backlash after signing HB2 into law. Urging Charlotte to hold firm, LGBT advocates renewed calls for McCrory and the state legislature to repeal HB2 on their own accord.
JoDee Winterhof, the Human Rights Campaign’s senior vice president of policy and political affairs, said in a statement Roberts “made it clear that the rights of LGBTQ people are not up for grabs, and that Charlotte won’t sell out our community.”
“Not only is this scheme to repeal Charlotte’s protections wrong, it won’t fix the problem,” Winterhof said. “The fact is, Gov. McCrory and his allies in the state legislature have had six months to fix the mess they’ve created, and they could repeal HB2 tomorrow without any action from Charlotte.”
It’s not the first time in which Charlotte was poised to act on a deal with the state legislature by undoing its non-discrimination ordinance in exchange for repeal of HB2. In May, Charlotte was prepared to act, but ultimately determined to keep the non-discrimination ordinance in place.
Business organizations made a renewed push for a compromise as a result of continued economic damage to the state. Just last week, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Atlantic Coast Conference cancelled championship games previously scheduled in North Carolina as a result of the anti-LGBT law.
Christopher Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina, said in a statement House Bill 2, not the ordinance, was to blame for the economic harm to the state.
“These ordinances are common sense local protections that actually create a competitive advantage for Charlotte,” Sgro said. “Instead of repealing HB2, Gov. McCrory is reprising his role as ‘blamer-in-chief.’ Not a single entity has left North Carolina because of the Charlotte ordinance — they’ve all left because of HB2. We all know what must be done – and that is to immediately repeal HB2.”
After Charlotte approved its non-discrimination in February, lawmakers in the state legislature called a special session to override the measure, stoking fears about the prohibition on discrimination against transgender people and saying it would enable men to enter women’s restrooms.
Over the course of single day, the legislature passed and Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law HB2, which blocked the Charlotte ordinance from taking effect and barred transgender people across the state from using the public restroom in schools and government buildings consistent with their gender identity.
The NCAA and ACC decisions to cancel games in the state were the latest in cancellation of events and business expansion in the state over the anti-LGBT law. Two Republicans who voted in favor of the law — State Rep. Gary Pendleton and State Rep. Tamara Barringer — are now calling for its repeal. Both Hillary Clinton and the White House embraced the values with which the collegiate organizations decided to cancel events in North Carolina.
Targeted for defeat by LGBT advocates for signing HB2 into law, McCrory is trailing in his bid to win re-election in a traditionally “red” state. Polls have shown most North Carolina oppose the anti-LGBT law and McCrory is trailing several digits behind Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper, who’s pledged to repeal HB2 and supports LGBT non-discrimination protections in his state.
After Roberts announced Charlotte won’t repeal its non-discrimination ordinance as part of compromise to repeal HB2, Cooper called on the legislature to convene a special session to take the anti-LGBT law off the books.
“The damage to our economy must be stopped and it is clear that full repeal of HB2 will accomplish this,” Cooper said. “The governor should call for a special session today. It’s time for the governor to be a leader, not a follower.”
The Washington Blade has placed a call in with the office of McCrory seeking comment on Charlotte’s refusal at this time to take up to rescind its LGBT non-discrimination ordinance in exchange for repeal of HB2.