Meck County commissioners pass nondiscrimination ordinance, extend LGBTQ protections

CHARLOTTE — In a unanimous vote, Mecklenburg County commissioners passed a nondiscrimination ordinance Tuesday night to extend protections for the county’s LGBTQ community.

The ordinance also provides protections for people with natural hairstyles.

“Tonight’s discussion reaffirms the importance of LGTBQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances in Mecklenburg County and across the state,” Equality NC Executive Director Kendra Johnson said in a statement. “Measures like these will make Mecklenburg County a better place, especially for people with multiple layers of marginalization. We applaud the commissioners for taking this action, and we encourage them to pass this NDO swiftly.”

Commissioner Leigh Altman led the charge on the county commission to add protections against discrimination for people who work at all employers, regardless of their size. The county attorney’s original proposal only provided protections for people who work at employers with fewer than 15 people.

“We must listen to their voices and hear what they are asking of us. They are asking this Board to prohibit discrimination in all employment settings,” Altman said in a statement following the vote. “We are all God’s children, and we are all entitled to live in peace and dignity. But that doesn’t happen by well wishes alone. It requires action. It requires we act to ensure Mecklenburg County is a place that safeguards, with the force of law, the respect and dignity of all.”

Commissioners heard from numerous local LGBTQ activists and supporters prior to passing the nondiscrimination ordinance. Mecklenburg County is the 13th local government in North Carolina to approve a nondiscrimination ordinance since the sunset of HB142, the law that repealed HB2. County Commissioner Pat Cotham said she doesn’t think the state Legislature will push back on communities passing nondiscrimination ordinances.

Local organizations that pushed for the nondiscrimination ordinance include Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte Black Pride, Charlotte Pride, The Freedom Center for Social Justice, LGBTQ+ Dems NC of Mecklenburg County, and Transcend Charlotte.

(WATCH BELOW: Charlotte passes nondiscrimination ordinance)