Nondiscrimination ordinances have been passed in several North Carolina cities. (Photo Credit: olezzo via Adobe Stock)

As we continue to live through the height of summer, there are changes brewing for LGBTQ people in North Carolina. Even though Pride month is over, LGTBQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances are continuing to advance around the state at the local level. This is an exciting time for equality in this state, but we still must speak out. We have to make sure that things head in the right direction. 

So far, nine ordinances have been passed around the state: Hillsborough, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Orange County, Greensboro, Buncombe County, Asheville and, most recently, Apex. That’s 10 percent of North Carolina’s population who are newly covered by ordinances — a lot for just six months — and we’re just getting started. 

Moreover, earlier this month, several of those ordinances took effect, with Durham, Greensboro, Asheville and Buncombe County finally implementing LGBTQ nondiscrimination after passing it earlier this year. Folks in those communities now know that they are protected from discrimination under the law.

Here at Equality NC, we’re very pleased to see this progress. Audra Killingsworth, an out member of the Apex city council, said it best after Apex’s ordinance passed last month: “All North Carolinians deserve to be treated with dignity and fairness in the place they call home. I’m so proud for Apex to join eight other North Carolina municipalities in affirming the rights of its LGBTQ citizens and recognizing their full humanity under the law.”

We’re so glad to see that so many North Carolina cities are affirming the rights of their citizens and recognizing their full humanity.

The result of all of these changes is that, in many respects, the fight for nondiscrimination is switching into a new gear. All of this progress is exciting and new, but these unprecedented opportunities also mean major risks. It’s time now to bring it home and pass ordinances in even more communities which fully cover everyone. 

A major upcoming opportunity is in Charlotte. The Charlotte City Council recently announced that they would be passing a nondiscrimination ordinance in August, a major positive move for the city which was at the center of much of House Bill 2. This is an incredible step and is the result of the advocacy of many people on the ground in the Charlotte area. All of our protests, letters and lobbying have paid off, and Equality NC offers a hearty thank you. Even Republicans on the council have introduced their own new ordinance, which shows that there’s an unprecedented degree of agreement on the issue of nondiscrimination ordinances, and that’s a result of us making our voices heard. 

But there are potential pitfalls here too. We need to make sure that the nondiscrimination ordinance that passes the Charlotte city council is one that fully covers the LGBTQ community. That means it doesn’t include exceptions and carve-outs for small businesses or religious institutions. And that means that Charlotte’s ordinance has to include protections for folks with natural hair because LGBTQ people are the victims of racialized hair discrimination too. We need an effective, comprehensive and intersectional ordinance to protect folks in Charlotte, whether it be in public accommodations, private employment, housing or more. 

So we need your voice. Our elected officials need to know that what we need and want are comprehensive ordinances that cover everyone. You can contact the Charlotte city council here and tell them that we must be covered for nondiscrimination in public accommodations, private employment and housing. 

And if you don’t live in Charlotte, you can contact your local elected officials too, at ncisready.org, and tell them that your city and county needs nondiscrimination. We’re fighting for nondiscrimination all across the state, from the mountains to the sea, and that means we need you to speak out no matter where you are. 

We’re entering into an exciting new phase for LGBTQ protections in North Carolina — let’s make sure that they do their job.

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