Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane on Monday affirmed the city’s support for the transgender community in the wake of a recently enacted state law that’s getting criticized as discriminatory.
“Raleigh will always be open to everyone. Everyone. We will continue to support all of our businesses, citizens and visitors with the utmost respect, regardless of race, color, religion, age, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability,” McFarlane said, according to a statement released Monday afternoon.
House Bill 2 – passed by the Republican-led General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory last week – prevents local governments from passing local nondiscrimination ordinances and from opening bathrooms for people’s use based on the gender with which they identify.
The legislature’s move prompted criticism from many Raleigh residents and business owners, such as RedHat CEO Jim Whitehurst.
McCrory, in his first news conference since signing the bill, mentioned Raleigh by name on Monday in saying it doesn’t take away “any rights that have currently existed in any city in North Carolina, from Raleigh to Durham to Chapel Hill to Charlotte.
“Every city and every corporation have the exact same nondiscrimination policy this week as they had two weeks ago,” he said.
Raleigh in 2014 enacted a non-discrimination policy on the recommendation of its Human Relations Commission, according to city spokesman John Boyette. McFarlane said Raleigh’s legal team is reviewing how the new law affects the city’s policy.
In contrast to HB2, Raleigh’s anti-discrimination policy prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“We still have many questions as to the effect of HB2 on our City processes. Our legal staff is conducting a careful review and we hope to have more insight as to the bill’s impacts in the coming days,” McFarlane’s statement said.
Regardless of the changes to the city’s “legal language,” McFarlane said Raleigh’s welcoming culture would not.
“Raleigh is a welcoming, diverse city that draws its strength from many areas. We have always been a place where people respect each other’s differences and understand that those differences make us stronger,” she said.
“Raleigh is great because our people are great. Together, we have created a place like no other. And nothing about that has changed. We will continue to work together, cherish each other and move forward with dignity and respect.”