CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Less than 24 hours after Charlotte’s City Council voted down a controversial ordinance to stop sexual discrimination, groups from both sides of the fight said the debate isn’t over yet.
“I was immediately disappointed, I was dismayed,” said Scott Bishop, a member of the board of directors for the Human Rights Campaign.
That was his reaction to the 6-5 vote against an ordinance he’d spent months lobbying for.
"This is a first time in a long time we've been able to see who our true allies are on City Council,” he said.
The vote brought dozens to the meeting to debate the ordinance which was designed to protect those in the LGBT community from discrimination in public settings such as restaurants and hotels.
The most debated portion of the ordinance, which was removed prior to the vote, would have allowed transgendered people to go into any public bathroom they chose.
“They want to force their idea of gender upon us that there is no male or female," said Ante Pavkovic.
He is a small business owner who drove from Davidson to be at the meeting Monday. He was concerned the ordinance would impact Christian business owners.
"Christian companies are being harassed and litigated against for refusing to do businesses with homosexuals in a way that will force the Christians to validate what they're into," Pavkovic said.
Bishop said most opponents that spoke at the meeting were from out of town and not Charlotte. He hopes in November supporters will vote in council members who favor the ordinance.
"A majority of those in opposition came in from out of town to convince the City Council to vote in their interests,” Bishop said. “Why didn't City Council vote in the interest of the people who live here?”
Leaders in Charleston, South Carolina, said they passed a similar ordinance in 2009 with no controversy at all.
However, leaders there said their ordinance does not include a clause about public restrooms.
City Council member John Autry said he would only support the ordinance in its entirety. He said the bathroom portion of the ordinance is too important to leave out.
“When it comes to civil rights who should we exclude?” he said.
Hundreds of people showed up Monday night to either support or protest the change.
There were 120 people that signed up to speak at the public hearing.
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