State Politics

Rally urges ‘immediate’ special session to repeal Charlotte LGBT ordinance

Opponents of Charlotte’s expanded nondiscrimination ordinance Friday implored Gov. Pat McCrory and the General Assembly to call a special session to repeal all or part of new legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

At a rally outside the Charlotte0-Mecklenburg Government Center, most of the criticism focused on part of the ordinance that would allow transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

They said that would allow men posing as women to assault women and girls, an allegation that supporters of the ordinance said is fear-mongering.

“We are calling for the legislature to deal with the expanded ordinance, and deal with it now,” said Mark Harris, pastor of the First Baptist Church in uptown. “This is common sense: There should be no men in women’s restrooms.”

The expanded ordinance goes into effect April 1. It’s unclear whether legislators will convene a special session in the next two weeks, or whether they will wait and address the issue in May, when they are scheduled to convene.

The ordinance will add sexual orientation and gender expression and gender identity to the city’s existing list of protected classes.

The ordinance applies to places of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants, stores and taxis.

It does not cover employment. When the ordinance is expanded, a business would be prohibited from denying service to someone who is gay or transgender, but the same business could refuse to hire someone because of their sexual orientation.

The city, as well as supporters, interpret the ordinance to allow transgender individuals to use either men’s or women’s restrooms, depending on how they represent themselves.

Supporters have said that transgender individuals are the people at risk in the bathroom debate. For instance, they have said a person born as a man but who now represents as a woman can face violence or verbal abuse if they use a men’s bathroom.

During the rally, ordinance supporter Scott Bishop interrupted speakers.

“A man will not be allowed in a women’s restroom,” he shouted. “It isn’t in the ordinance. If he assaults someone, he will be arrested.”

State Rep. Dan Bishop, a Charlotte Republican, said legislation has been written to address the bathroom issue.

“The window is narrow,” he said. “It would be good to clean this up quickly.”

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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