Dozens of Durham residents are asking the City Council to stand up against House Bill 2 by passing a non-discrimination ordinance, but so far elected officials say such action would be futile.
Since Monday, residents have been sending nearly identical emails asking the council to pass a non-discrimination ordinance similar to the one passed, and now repealed, by the Charlotte City Council.
HB2 blocks local governments from giving anti-discrimination protection to LGBT individuals and requires transgender people to use the restrooms and locker rooms of the gender on their birth certificate in government buildings. It was a response to the Charlotte ordinance that extended LGBT protections and allowed transgender people use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.
“As Durham’s beloved Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray once said, ‘True community is based upon equality, mutuality and reciprocity,’” the emails state. “Durham belongs at the forefront of this continuous fight to make our state and our world a "true community." We can not sit on the sidelines waiting patiently for our civil rights to be respected. We must act now to make sure Durham remains open for all.”
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So far Mayor Bill Bell’s and Councilman Charlie Reece’s responses indicate they don’t plan to take any action.
Reece pointed out City Council has already expressed its strong opposition to HB2 and called for its immediate repeal in an April resolution.
“If I believed that passing a non-discrimination ordinance in Durham similar to the one passed by Charlotte in 2016 would do anything to protect any resident of the city of Durham while HB2 is still on the books, I would propose such an ordinance tomorrow,” Reece wrote. “But the truth is this: such an act would do nothing to permit our neighbors to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity or expression, or to protect any of us from discrimination, or to ensure that Durham residents are paid a living wage. Until HB2 is repealed by state action or thrown out by the courts, passing such ordinance would be a purely symbolic move with no impact on the lives of the people of this city.”
“It is my opinion that it would be fruitless and very much misguided for the Durham City Council to adopt such an ordinance as you have proposed, given the position of our N.C. General Assembly on HB2 and no clear position from the courts on this issue,” Bell wrote.