CHARLOTTE, N.C. - If the sign-up sheet means anything, Charlotte City Council could be in for the most hotly-debated public hearing in years on Monday night.
By Tuesday afternoon, more than 60 people signed up to speak at the hearing on a proposed non-discrimination ordinance that would allow transgender people to use whichever public restroom they choose without fear of discrimination.
“Blown up,” said City Councilman Kenny Smith about his telephone and email since council members first discussed the proposed change.
“My phone and email vibrates every five to 10 seconds,” Smith said.
He plans to vote against the ordinance and said most of his more than 2,000 emails have been running against it as well.
“To say we're not getting any feedback supporting it would not be true, but it's overwhelmingly opposed to it,” he said.
The debate got more heated after evangelist Rev. Franklin Graham weighed in saying, “It is not only ridiculous, it's unsafe. This would open the door, literally, to all sorts of serious concerns including giving sexual predators access to children."
That has drawn sharp criticism from supporters of the proposal.
“Rev. Graham has definitely gone too far,” said Paige Dula, who is transgender and plans to speak at the public forum.
“There was a situation several years ago where I was nearly attacked using a women's restroom,” she said.
“We're just normal people going about our lives and we need a place to use the restroom just like everybody else,” he said.
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