charlotte city council non-discrimination ordinance
Charlotte City Councilmember Ed Driggs during a debate over repealing Charlotte LGBT non-discrimination ordinance.

The Charlotte City Council had added “Economic impact of HB2” as a topic for their Monday night dinner meeting. It was rumored that they might take a vote to repeal the LGBT non-discrimination ordinance in order to strike a deal with the North Carolina General Assembly, who is reported to have told council members in closed door meetings that if council did so they would modify HB2. Nothing had been stated publicly and how they would change HB2 was left up to the imagination.

LGBT rights groups and community members urged the council not to compromise on civil rights.

The council then removed the topic from the agenda, just three hours after it had been added, and stated that there would be no vote to repeal the non-discrimination ordinance since the votes were not there to do so.

So when the topic was brought up at the regular city council business meeting immediately following the dinner meeting, it took everyone by surprise. Councilmember James Mitchell complained about the process surrounding the topic being pulled in the way it was, which opened the door for councilmember Kenny Smith to ask for a vote on repealing the ordinance.

That kicked off a back and forth on the council, where Smith and fellow Republican Ed Driggs lobbied hard for the repeal as a way toward compromise and to “stop the bleeding” of economic impact following the HB2 related business boycotts.

Council members not in favor of repeal pointed out that no compromise from the NCGA had been publicly stated and that at least until something solid was being offered there was no incentive to bow to the pressure.

A vote was then called to see if there was support to have a vote on repeal of the ordinance on Wednesday night’s meeting. The motion failed 7-4.

This all occurred at the end of the roughly two hour long meeting, after the audience had dispersed, assuming the topic of the non-discrimination ordinance had been put to bed.

Earlier in the meeting, many in the LGBT community had thanked the council for standing firm. Anti-gay preacher Flip Benham attempted to speak even though the time for speakers had passed and was removed by police at the mayor’s request.

Jeff Taylor / Social Media Editor

Jeff Taylor is a journalist and artist. In addition to QNotes, his work has appeared in publications such The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing Charlotte, Inside Lacrosse, and McSweeney’s Internet...