Mecklenburg County commissioners, finally, officially passed a non-discrimination ordinance November 16, which includes protections for LGBTQ people in employment and housing. The ordinance also provides protections for people who wear natural hairstyles.
For many in the general public the ordinance seemed like a done deal this past October 5, when headlines declared ‘Mecklenburg County Commission Passes NDO.’
That was not the case. Mecklenberg County Commissioners had actually (but unanimously) voted to support a non-discrimination ordinance on that date.
In a move that many found uncomfortably reminiscent of slow moving 20th Century Charlotte-Mecklenburg politics, authorities then gave County attorney Tyrone Wade 100 days from October 5 to get an appropriate draft to Commissioners for a final vote.
“[The] NDO provisions that were approved are to be incorporated in the fair housing ordinance,” Wade explained. “[That] requires the document be re-written and reformatted to include the approved provisions.”
After more than a month had passed, concerns about the possibility of conservative stalling came to the fore.
Said Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham: “I’m confused. I am perplexed as [to] why it’s taking so long.”
Concern from local LGBTQ individuals in the Charlotte-Mecklenbug community, along with Cotham, likely prompted Wade to pick up the pace.
Following a seemingly defensive statement he released just under two weeks ago proclaiming that “not even 30 days” had passed, he also announced it would be placed on the agenda for a full vote when the rewrite of the pre-existing ordinance was complete and he was given the go-ahead from County officials.
While County Commissioners and the attorney did not wait out the full 100 days, they did take 42 days to officially pass the ordinance, with a unanimous vote across party affiliations.
With the ordinance now in place, LGBTQ individuals in most of Mecklenburg County can rest safe against discrimination in their employment and housing.
“This is the beginning,” Cotham offered. “We have to continue to do this because, I swear, tomorrow there will be someone who is terribly discriminated against, so we have to continue to fight for the dignity of our neighbors.”
But what exactly does most of Mecklenburg County mean?
Despite all the hard work, the ordinance doesn’t apply to all of Mecklenburg County – only the areas that are unincorporated. That means smaller Mecklenburg County towns – if they don’t already have NDOs in place – like Cornelius, Huntersville, Matthews and Mint Hill, will have to pass their own nondiscrimination ordinances to protect LGBTQ individuals in employment and housing, and those with natural hairstyles.