Charlotte city attorney says new ordinance won’t outlaw separate bathrooms


CHARLOTTE, NC (WNCN) — City attorney Bob Hagemann says a new Charlotte ordinance would not outlaw separate bathrooms for men and women.

On Wednesday, Republican state Rep. Dan Bishop, a lawyer, said the manner in which the city changed the wording of the previous ordinance made it illegal to have separate bathrooms, locker rooms or showers for men and women.

“In other words,” Bishop said in a statement, “just as it would be illegal for a business to discriminate by saying ‘whites only,’ it is now illegal within Charlotte city limits to have ‘male only’ or ‘female only’ bathrooms, showers, etc.”

In a memo to council, Hagemann said that thinking runs “counter to common sense” as well as interpretations of similar statutes. Hagemann, who said the city will bring no actions actions public accommodation with separate bathrooms, noted that the expanded nondiscrimination ordinance simply extends legal protections to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals. The ordinance would allow those who identify as transgender to use either a men’s or women’s bathroom. It’s the first ordinance of its kind in North Carolina.

Hagemann said that Police Chief Kerr Putney assured him that law enforcement would enforce laws against any “non-female-identifying male” who tries to use a woman’s bathroom.

Republicans, including Gov. Pat McCrory, warned the city not to pass the ordinance and now say they will take steps to eliminate the bathroom provision in the ordinance.

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