Charlotte City Council vs. General Assembly
By: Jennifer Stevens
On Monday, February 22, the Charlotte City Council approved an ordinance that expanded protection to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community (LGBT). The change in ordinance means that businesses may not discriminate against the LGBT community. The ordinance also reached public forums, such as bars, restaurants, and stores. Although the ordinance in itself sparked some tension, the most controversial part of the ordinance allows transgender people to use either a male or female bathroom, dependent on what gender with which they identify. The main concern from those who opposed the ordinance was the safety of women and girls sharing a public bathroom with someone born male. The main concern for supporters was the risk of violence to transgender people in the bathroom.
Many citizens of Charlotte spoke out about the issue. In fact, so many people showed up to the council meeting that firefighters had to stop allowing people to enter due to the capacity of the building being full. Opinions ranged from people saying the ordinance was “filthy and wicked” to “I only want to be treated equally.”
Asheville’s City Council decided to address the pubic directly on Charlotte’s ordinance. The council addressed the ordinance directly and stated that it was absolutely unnecessary. The council made it a point to say that Asheville and many areas of the like do not have rules about who can and can’t use bathrooms available to the public in public places. Asheville has no intention to create an ordinance like that of Charlotte.
Governor Pat McCrory made the assumption that the bathroom provision would likely cause immediate action by legislators. The General Assembly of North Carolina has the ultimate say over city municipalities, and legislators could easily strike down the entire ordinance or eliminate provisions that were unwanted. A year ago, a similar ordinance failed in a 6-5 vote. Members of the council in Raleigh have mixed feelings about the ordinance and it is likely a decision will be made in the near future. With new members on the board, both of whom support the ordinance, the fate of the ordinance is up in the air. The Council has plenty of avenues to proceed, and with Charlotte being a progressive city; it is unlikely the entire ordinance will be struck down.