Downtown Asheville. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

With a unanimously supportive vote from the entire city council, Asheville’s local governing body has helped the mountain town join a list of other North Carolina cities, counties and towns to ban LGBTQ discrimination. This ordinance will take effect on July 1, subsequently allowing for complaints to be filed with the City Office of Equity and Inclusion.

The regulations are following closely within the footsteps of Buncombe County, which are designed to ban discrimination in employment and accommodations and includes the date of effect so that businesses may prepare for the specified changes. One of the primary purposes of the Asheville nondiscrimination ordinance is to advance the city’s goal of fostering equity and inclusion throughout the community.

More specifically, the ordinance will make it illegal for employers, landlords and owners of businesses and public accommodations to discriminate based on “race, natural hair or hairstyles, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ancestry, marital or familial status, pregnancy, veteran status, religious belief or non-belief, age or disability.”

According to the Center for American Progress (ACAP), 319,000 queer people in North Carolina are without protections against discrimination. ACAP confirms much has been accomplished with President Biden’s support for the LGBTQ community.

However, ACAP explains, “Much work remains. Agencies must implement and robustly enforce newly clarified protections, support the programs and services needed for the safety and well-being of LGBTQ communities.”

The regulations provide exemptions for religious institutions, which have led to much debate among Asheville’s government and supporters of the LGBTQ community. On ACAP’s website, the organization reminds allies and LGBTQ community members to monitor and ensure religious exemptions are not misused to harm LGBTQ people.

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