North Carolina Lawmakers Call Special Session on Charlotte 'Bathroom Bill'
The North Carolina legislature will meet in special session Wednesday to discuss — and most likely block — Charlotte’s LGBT-inclusive public accommodations ordinance.
In North Carolina, where state lawmakers have the power to overrule municipal decisions, the Charlotte measure has been controversial because it allows transgender people to use the public restrooms matching their gender identity rather than the gender they were assigned at birth.
“We aim to repeal this ordinance before it goes into effect to provide for the privacy and protection of the women and children of our state,” said a statement issued Monday by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who presides over the state Senate, and House Speaker Tim Moore, reports Raleigh newspaper The News & Observer. Both are Republicans.
They’re using the same argument that opponents of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance used to persuade voters to repeal it — although studies have shown that such ordinances do not enable predatory behavior, and that indeed, transgender people face danger if they have to use the wrong restroom for their lived gender.
The Charlotte City Council passed the ordinance in February, and it is set to take effect April 1. It adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s antidiscrimination law, but it does not affect employment, only public accommodations. It applies to shops, restaurants, taxi and limousine services, and other businesses that serve the general public. Businesses refusing to serve same-sex weddings or LGBT Pride events, for instance, would be in violation of the ordinance.
“The city couldn’t revoke a business license if someone violated the ordinance,” The News & Observer explains. “But it could seek an injunction that would force a business to comply.”
It’s unknown yet if legislators will try to repeal only the restroom provision or other parts of the ordinance. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory had declined to call the special session himself because he was worried lawmakers would go beyond that provision.
The special session, which will cost $42,000 a day, is “a waste of taxpayer money,” said Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat, according to The News & Observer. “The assembly should focus on teacher pay, not taking away rights,” she tweeted.