North Carolina’s Wake County passed a non-discrimination ordinance (NDO) October 18 to protect the LGBTQ community. More than one million people live in Wake County, which is home to the state capitol of Raleigh, as well as other municipalities and towns such as Apex, Cary. Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Morrisville, Raleigh, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell and Zebulon.
A crowd of supporters of the ordinance, many carrying placards with the message “All Are Welcome Here,” gathered to show their appreciation for the county commission’s unanimous vote.
The ordinance will protect both people who live in Wake County and visitors from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and natural hairstyle. The county-wide legislation applies to employees in the workplace and all individuals in public areas, like eating establishments, hotels, rental properties and retail stores.
While the ordinance doesn’t yet apply in specific language to religious organizations, the recent landmark ruling Billard v.Charlotte Catholic may have a much larger impact on religious institutions than expected. For now, however, any employer or business that is not a religious institution in Wake County that violates the ordinance could face local government mediation and legal charges from county officials.
According to a report from the news department of local Raleigh TV station WRAL, teens like Harrison Casey Garcia, who was the target of gender-related bullying during high school, confirm the belief that the ordinance will protect other teens from similar circumstances.
“It makes me very happy that I can fight for the younger generations and my siblings,” Garcia said in the interview. “I think [my] whole situation would have gone so much differently if there was something in place for me.”
At deadline, the Raleigh City Council planned to pass the same NDO at their next meeting, adding yet another county and city to take such an action.