As Charlotte’s city council casts their votes either for or against the nondiscrimination ordinance, residents from all over Charlotte and Mecklenburg County are expected be making their voices heard come August 9, with a rally outside the Mecklenburg County Government Center in center city Charlotte, beginning at 4:00 p.m. The rally is being spearheaded by a coalition of local organizations, including Charlotte Black Pride, Charlotte Pride, Transcend Charlotte, LGBTQ Democrats of Mecklenburg County, Equality NC, the Freedom Center for Social Justice and the Carolinas LGBT Chamber of Commerce. All members of the public are encouraged to participate.
Five years after the implementation of House Bill 2 (also known as the Bathroom Bill), City Attorney Patrick Baker emailed council members his version of the final draft of Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance. The finished document offers protection to some Charlottteans on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and hairstyles in a professional setting.
Most of the controversy surrounding this piece of legislation stems from the idea of infringing on religious or first amendment freedoms. Employers may claim that, if an employee or potential hire believes they are being discriminated against for any of the protected reasons, they, the employer, are not at fault. The ordinance only apply to businesses with fifteen or fewer employees, whereas small businesses are typically exempt from such local legislation and Baker feels the Federal Level Title VII law will protect LGBTQ employees in larger businesses.
In North Carolina, Durham, Asheville, Chapel Hill and Carrboro’s nondiscrimination ordinances extend to all enterprises, despite size; however, Greensboro and Orange County’s ordinances apply only to those with fifteen or more employees.
The council is projecting that 100 or so persons will be coming out in support of the nondiscrimination ordinance on August 9. Due to COVID-related restrictions, participants will most likely be placed in overflow seating. Says Cameron Pruette, President of LGBTQ Democrats of Mecklenburg County: “We want to acknowledge that there are a lot of people who don’t feel safe coming out, so it will be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube. Being visible is still dangerous; especially for our trans community and that is why we’re encouraging allies to come out in support of those who cannot come out.”
All who are able to participate are encouraged to do so. Pruette underlines the importance of the ordinance for black transgender women in Charlotte especially. In his thread of reasoning, transgender women of color find themselves in desperate circumstances, which begins with an inaccessibility of services then to subsequent denial of stable housing and finally in an inability to find a job.
“It is incumbent on us who do have privilege to use it in this moment,” Pruette says. “For many, it is already too late. We have to prevent future deaths and make the quality of life better for everyone in Charlotte. This ordinance will save lives.”
To RSVP for the LGBTQ Democrats public forum, go to bit.ly/3ChlBLz.
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