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Charlotte Won't Repeal LGBT Ordinance — At Least Not Tonight

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts

State lawmakers have offered to modify the anti-LGBT HB 2 if Charlotte repeals its ordinance, but it won't be on the agenda tonight.

The Charlotte, N.C., City Council will not vote on a repeal of its LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance when it meets tonight.

Leaders in the state legislature had said that if the council repealed the public accommodations ordinance, the legislature would consider modifying the state's anti-LGBT House Bill 2, which largely nullified the Charlotte ordinance, The Charlotte Observer reports. The council was planning to discuss the matter at tonight's meeting, but city officials announced this afternoon that it will not be on the agenda after all. There was no indication as to whether it would come up later.

"It was unclear whether council members had enough votes to approve a repeal," the Observer reports. Also, Mayor Jennifer Roberts might have vetoed a repeal, and an override of her veto would require the votes of seven of the 11 council members.

Roberts has been a staunch supporter of the ordinance, and Monday she tweeted, "We cannot compromise on basic human rights. Any repeal of LGBT protections is bad for business, bad for Charlotte's future."

The council adopted the ordinance in February, banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all public accommodations, such as shops, restaurants, hotels, and taxi services. It also would have assured that transgender people could use the public restrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity.

It was set to go into effect April 1, but state lawmakers responded by passing HB 2 in March, striking down all LGBT-inclusive municipal nondiscrimination ordinances and preventing cities from enacting new ones. HB 2 also bars trans people from using the sex-segregated facilities corresponding with their gender identity, when those are located in government buildings, including public schools and state universities. It further prevents residents from using state courts to sue for discrimination and prohibits cities from setting a minimum wage higher than the state's.

The law has led performers to cancel shows in North Carolina, businesses to cancel expansions there, and cities and states to ban official travel to the state. It has also drawn the wrath of the federal government, which has filed a lawsuit in hopes of bringing it down. Because of the economic impact of HB 2, the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce had urged the City Council to consider a compromise with the state legislature.

The Human Rights Campaign, Equality North Carolina, and the National Center for Transgender Equality had called on the council to stand firm against repeal efforts and said the city was being scapegoated. The HRC also characterized state lawmakers and the chamber as "anti-LGBT bullies," to which chamber president Bob Morgan took "great offense," as he told the Observer Monday.

Roberts, meanwhile, recently told The Advocate she didn't expect the backlash to the ordinance, and she acknowledged the economic impact, but remained committed to protecting all people's rights. "We have had to try as hard as we can to grow and work within it and try to get the message out -- even above the din -- that we are a welcoming community and that we remain a place that stood up for equality and will continue to do so," she said in the interview. Read it in full here.

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