CHARLOTTE — HB2 rocked Charlotte’s world five years ago. The city lost businesses, events and, in many ways, its reputation.
That law doesn’t exist anymore and Charlotte leaders did what they originally sought out to do Monday night, which was to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance.
Charlotte City Council’s nine Democrats and two Republicans unanimously voted to approve the nondiscrimination ordinance.
Mayor Vi Lyles called the day historic.
LGBTQ residents now have citywide protections against discrimination.
“I am speechless,” Matt Comer, of Charlotte Pride, said. “This is the complete opposite of what it has been in Charlotte for many, many years.”
Comer and hundreds of LGBTQ residents have been pushing for protections for years, and their hard work paid off. The ordinance includes sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy and natural hairstyles as protected classes.
The mayor praised the council for finally getting it done.
“The council members did a terrific job coming together to write an ordinance that was clear with accountability and protection and that makes a real difference,” she said.
“As the mayor and so many people have said, this is a long time coming,” Councilman Braxton Winston said.
Prior to the vote, dozens of people addressed the Charlotte City Council with most pleading for Charlotte to join numerous other cities in the state in having these protections.
“Not having that welcome mat out, not having that ultimate acceptance sends the wrong signal to all people,” resident Jenny Oak said.
“It is time to remove the stain of HB2 from our collective memories and pass this nondiscrimination ordinance,” resident Elizabeth Schob said.
- City of Charlotte working on nondiscrimination ordinance
- Charlotte leader proposes new LGBTQ, natural hair protections
While most of the comments from the public were appropriate, some were disparaging and jarring. Comer said LGBTQ residents watching the meeting need to know they are loved, supported and now protected.
“People need to know that God loves them and here in Charlotte, you will be safe from this kind of hatred,” Comer said.
Most of the ordinance takes effect right away. The private employment provision takes effect Jan. 1.
City leaders also said there is a religious exemption to the ordinance. Unlike the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance in 2016, this ordinance does not deal with bathrooms.
(WATCH BELOW: Mecklenburg County commissioners unanimously pass nondiscrimination resolution)
©2021 Cox Media Group