“As an African-American and a member of the LGBT community, I cannot support discrimination in the city where I live, so I supported the bill to expand the nondiscrimination ordinance,” Austin said. “We are a global city, we are an inclusive city, we celebrate our differences and I believe we are stronger together.”
The expanded ordinance now protects LGBT patrons from being denied service by businesses in Charlotte. It already included for race, gender, age and religion.
The vote also allows for transgender people to use restrooms consistent with their self-identified genders.
Gov. Pat McCrory, a vocal opponent of the expansion, said in a statement he would support legislative action against it.
“I am disappointed and saddened Charlotte city government initiated overreaching regulations that change basic standards and expectations of privacy regarding restrooms and locker rooms,” McCrory said. “As I communicated and predicted prior to the vote, state legislative leaders have notified me about introducing legislation that would correct this misguided government regulation and ensure it will not happen in any town or city in North Carolina.”
James Miller, executive director for the LGBT Center of Raleigh, said while the media chooses to emphasize the restroom provision, it is not what the expansion is about.
“This landmark policy change in the 17th largest city in the country, and the largest city in North Carolina, proves that fair-minded individuals value the tenets of equal protection under the law,” Miller said in a statement.
MeckPAC, an LGBT Political Action Committee registered with the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections, also supports the Council’s decision.
Jamie Hildreth, board chairperson of MeckPAC, said the protections in the expansion put Charlotte on the level of many major cities nationwide and makes the city more competitive for businesses looking to relocate to the state.
“McCrory has promised to intervene and Speaker (Tim) Moore of the NCGA (General Assembly) has followed up those threats as well,” Hildreth said. “At this point, MeckPAC will continue to engage our supporters and our state and national partners such as ENC and HRC to pressure the Republican legislature to keep true to their supposed values of limited government and to stay out of local government affairs.”
Austin said the council’s decision reflects the values of Charlotte, regardless of the actions of the state legislature.
“Pat McCrory and the General Assembly made us aware some time ago that they would be creating legislation against this bill, and we will let them do whatever they have to do,” he said. “But as a council, we felt like we needed to present to the world who Charlotte is, even if we aren’t in a state that shares our same views.”