CHARLOTTE — Mecklenburg County commissioners unanimously passed a nondiscrimination resolution Tuesday night. The symbolic act was meant to show solidarity with the county’s LGBTQ+ community and encourage local municipalities to enact similar ordinances. County commissioners also unanimously directed the county attorney to undertake the necessary legal research to advise the board as to its ordinance-making authority on LGBTQ+ protections in Mecklenburg County.
“There is nothing radical or threatening about the ‘golden rule,’” Commissioner Leigh Altman said.
The county’s resolution says LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination laws send a message that everyone is welcome to build a life, raise a family and start a business. It continues by saying the Mecklenburg County government will not discriminate against any human being in employment practices or taxpayer-funded programs. It also has a line saying discrimination will not be tolerated in areas of public accommodations like hotels and restaurants.
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“We do not condone discrimination against any person, period,” Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell said. “Not by businesses, not by government, not by institutions and not by individuals.”
The resolution not only condemns discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity, it also includes veterans, people who are pregnant and natural hairstyles.
“We don’t want to just protect one group of people,” said Cameron Pruette, a supporter of the resolution, addressing commissioners. “There are gaps in protections for the people who live in Mecklenburg County that aren’t just about gender identity or expression or sexual orientation.”
Mecklenburg County is the first body in the Charlotte area to pass something along these lines since the sunset of HB142, the law that repealed HB2 but prohibited new nondiscrimination ordinances.
The city of Charlotte is drafting an ordinance and working with Equality NC.
Mecklenburg County could join the city of Charlotte in passing an ordinance in the future, depending on the county attorney’s findings.
“I look forward to the day that we look back at this moment and scratch our heads saying, ‘I can’t believe we had to pass a resolution about not discriminating against human beings,’” Commissioner Laura Meier said.