CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts says the city is “is not prepared” to discuss repealing the city’s non-discrimination ordinance that led to House Bill 2 at its meeting Monday night.
The announcement comes after legislative leaders announced the possibility of a short session of the General Assembly to repeal the law, but made dropping the Charlotte ordinance a condition for repealing HB2.
Monday afternoon, the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce issued a statement that said it was disappointed the Council will not take up the issue.
“We applaud and support the intentions of the Charlotte City Council to extend nondiscrimination protections to the LGBT community, but are disappointed that the Council has not acted in response to the call for action from legislative leaders,” the Chamber’s statement said in part. “We continue to call on leaders at the city and state to act and specifically request that the North Carolina General Assembly move to repeal HB2 as quickly as possible.”
What is House Bill 2?
HB2 requires individuals to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate in government buildings, schools and universities, and initially took away the ability of employees to sue their employers in state court for discrimination or wrongful termination, among other things.
Months later, the legislature voted only to change a portion of HB2 that stripped workers of the right to sue their employers for wrongful termination.
The bill was passed in a one-day special session in late March and was signed by Governor McCrory later that night.
It came as a response to a non-discrimination ordinance passed in February by the Charlotte City Council. The ordinance broadly defined how businesses should treat gay, lesbian and transgender customers. The debate, as in other cities, focused on bathrooms.
Council won’t consider ordinance repeal Monday
“The City of Charlotte continues its commitment to be a welcoming community that honors and respects all people,” Roberts said in a statement. “We appreciate the state wanting to find a solution to the challenges we are facing and applaud the governor for recognizing the state should overturn HB2, which the state can do at any time without any action from the City of Charlotte.”
“We are not prepared to add this item to our agenda this evening, however, we urge the state to take action as soon as possible and encourage continued dialogue with the broader community,” she continued.
The city’s announcement came about an hour before organizers with Equality NC and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) were scheduled to ask the city council to stand their ground and keep the city’s non discrimination protections for the LGBT community.
“Let’s keep our eyes on the ball: HB2 is the problem. PayPal, the NCAA, and the ACC all left because of HB2,” said executive director of Equality NC Chris Sgro.
“Mayor Jennifer Roberts didn’t sign HB2. The NBA didn’t sign HB2. Pat McCrory alone signed the bill that has cost us millions,” Sgro said Sunday night. “Charlotte’s ordinance is a competitive advantage for our business community and any economic developer will tell you as much. Stop wasting time and repeal [HB2].”
Chamber calls for ‘reset’ on legislation
The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, together with hospitality and tourism leaders, called for the city of Charlotte and state leaders to repeal the controversial legislation that has thrust the state into the national spotlight.
House Bill 2 had repeatedly been named the reason for the state losing high profile sports games, business expansions and concerts.
The joint call for action comes days after a lobbyist group said it had been given assurances by Governor Pat McCrory that he would call a special session to repeal HB2 if the city of Charlotte repealed its non-discrimination ordinance and if there was enough support in the General Assembly to repeal the law.
“If the Charlotte City Council totally repeals the ordinance and then we can confirm there is support to repeal among the majority of state lawmakers in the House and Senate, the governor will call a special session,” McCrory’s communications director Josh Ellis said Friday.
Ellis said the Governor has been saying House Bill 2 was only needed if the Charlotte ordinance remained in place.
Cooper calls for special session
Monday morning, Attorney General Roy Cooper – who is the Democratic candidate for governor, called on McCrory to call a special session of the General Assembly.
“The damage to our economy must be stopped and it is clear that full repeal of HB2 will accomplish this,” Cooper said. “The Governor should call for a special session today. It’s time for the Governor to be a leader, not a follower.”