Charlotte leaders vote to expand nondiscrimination ordinance to LGBT people

Many people in Charlotte opposed the idea. Photo from WBTV

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The Latest on a Charlotte proposal to expand protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people (all times local)

10:15 p.m.

The Charlotte City Council has voted to adopt expansion of its nondiscrimination ordinance, setting up a showdown with North Carolina lawmakers after Gov. Pat McCrory deemed the measure a threat to public safety.

The 7-4 vote Monday night came after about 140 people used the public comment portion of the meeting to express their support or opposition to the plan.

While supporters applauded the vote, opponents walked out of the council chamber, some of them jeering the decision. One man shouted at the council, “Charlotte the harlot, peddling perversion.”

The proposal expands protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. One of the revisions to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance would allow people to choose restrooms corresponding to the gender with which they identify.

McCrory, a former mayor of Charlotte for 14 years, had said in an email that changing the policy on restrooms could “create major public safety issues.”

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9:10 p.m.

The public comment on a proposal that expands Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance has been extended to people who either commute to the city or who live farther away.

The last 50 speakers on the schedule Monday listed hometowns including nearby towns to which many people commute at the end of the work day. Most of them spoke against passage of the ordinance, and nearly all of them cited verses from the Bible in urging the committee to reject the plan. Several business owners said the expanded ordinance would adversely impact their businesses.

One speaker came from Boone, more than two hours away, and another from Durham, also two hours away from City Council chambers in uptown Charlotte.

Sam Miorelli of Orlando, Florida, represented Siemens, saying his company embraced its acceptance of its LGBT workers and urged the council to pass it.

North Carolina’s largest city may pass a law allowing transgender people to choose public bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

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7:40 p.m.

Members of the public have begun expressing their opinions to the Charlotte City Council on a proposal that expands the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts reminded the 140 speakers on the list that they had one minute to express themselves. Several times, Roberts had to remind the audience to hold their applause and cheering after each comment.

Of the first 10 speakers, five of them spoke for the ordinance and five were against. One opponent, Jeanette Wilson, called herself “a mama bear” and said “she’s still angry.” Wilson pounded the lectern as she told the council the proposed ordinance was bad for Charlotte.

Juli Ghazi, a restaurant owner and the 12th person to speak, told the council that her establishment has a restroom that is gender neutral and she supports the proposal.

Because the council chambers were filled to capacity, some speakers had to stay in an adjacent room and await their time to speak.

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5:45 p.m.

Several hundred people stood in a wind-driven rain to voice their opposition to a proposed ordinance that would expand Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance to include places of public accommodation. The proposal includes a measure that would allow people to use restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

To shouts of “Hallelujah” and “Don’t Do It Charlotte,” the protesters gathered in the plaza at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center. They heard a number of speakers urge them to oppose the measure, which was set for a vote by the Charlotte City Council.

The protesters held signs that said “No Men In Women’s Restrooms” and “Keep Kids Safe.”

Inside the center, there were several hundred more people who waited to get inside the council auditorium. Each person had to pass through a metal detector before entering.

The council meeting was scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

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2:30 p.m.

North Carolina’s largest city may pass a law allowing transgender people to choose public bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, prompting the governor to call the measure a threat to public safety and warn that the General Assembly may step in.

The Charlotte City Council was expected to vote Monday on the proposal to revise the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. The proposal includes a measure that would allow people to use restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said in an email Sunday that changing the policy on restrooms could “create major public safety issues.”

A statement from the advocacy group Equality NC says McCrory is pushing “debunked myths about transgender people” and bullying local government.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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