CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If Republican candidate Kenny Smith is elected in the upcoming Charlotte mayoral race, he might use his veto power to block the city from protecting the LGBTQ community.
Smith voted against the expanded non-discrimination ordinance to include LGBTQ rights in 2015, and again in 2016, when he called the ordinance “outrageous.”
He noted that he was so strongly opposed to the ordinance that he made sure to register his opposition, even though he believed the outcome of the vote to be “predetermined,” and in spite of being in grief over his father’s recent passing.
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In a profile by The Charlotte Observer, Smith is said to be moderating ahead of the election. He faces an uphill battle running in a city where there are twice as many registered Democrats as there are Republicans, so the move could be expected.
But is he really moderating?
The article notes that he has been more likely to vote for tax incentives to attract and maintain businesses.
The reason for that support is not likely to draw support for him from the LGBTQ community:
Smith said he started favoring incentives because of HB2. When companies were willing to consider Charlotte during and after the controversy, Smith said it was important to support the businesses in return.
“HB2 was a game changer for me,” he said.
Even more concerning for the community and its allies is the answer Smith gives when asked if he would use the mayoral veto power to block another expansion of the non-discrimination act, like the one passed last year.
The House Bill 2 (HB2) compromise repeal bill, House Bill 142, prevents cities from passing such legislation until 2020.
In 2020, N.C. cities and towns may be able to pass their own nondiscrimination ordinances to give legal protections to the LGBT community. (State law prohibits them from passing ordinances related to the use of bathrooms.)
Smith said he doesn’t know whether he would veto a council ordinance that gave legal protections to the LGBT community….
“We’ll have to see the lay of the land in 2020,” he said. “We have to see what changes in Raleigh. My viewpoint is that the majority of these issues should be decided at the state level.”
Republicans currently have a supermajority in both the House and Senate.
Smith’s Democratic opponent, Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles, voted in favor of the ordinance in 2015 and 2016.
She has been endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, Equality North Carolina and MeckPAC.