Republicans threaten special session over Charlotte LGBT ordinance

RALEIGH, N.C. — Republican lawmakers gathered for a press conference on March 3, where they called on Atty. Gen. Roy Cooper to take action against Charlotte, N.C.’s expanded non-discrimination ordinance (NDO). They may call a $42,000 a day special session to deal with the issue. The protections allowing transgender individuals to use the bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity seems to be the one main point of contention.

“We’re here today to discuss these very troubling developments that have occurred in Charlotte and the Charlotte City Council, when they decided to thrust themselves into the spotlight and pass a radical ordinance that does away with single-sex restrooms,” Sen. Buck Newton said, despite the fact that the ordinance does not, in fact, do away with men and women’s restrooms.

Speaker Tim Moore also recently announced that there was at least three-fifths support from the House for a special session, which Moore says “poses an imminent risk to public safety.”

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Cooper pointed out in a statement that the NDO “can’t trump criminal law,” adding, “District attorneys can prosecute criminals just as always. This news conference is, at best, a partisan political sideshow for an attorney general candidate, and worse, it’s misleading North Carolinians about how the law actually works.”

“Today’s press conference was just another ploy to use the LGBT community as a pawn in their political games,” said Equality NC Executive Chris Sgro in a statement. “Calling on Attorney General Roy Cooper to take action against the ordinance was merely an attempt to gain crass political points at the cost of countless members of the LGBT community statewide. Assault and being a peeping tom in public accommodations is already illegal and will remain illegal under the ordinance.”

The special session would have to be called by Gov. Pat McCrory, who has spoken out against the transgender portion of the expanded ordinance, calling it “government overreach.” He is not in favor of calling a special session, wishing instead to wait until they reconvene on April 25. The ordinance goes into effect April 1. While he may feel it best to wait, he has acknowledged that they may meet earlier to intervene on the issue.

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Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts tweeted her reaction to the news.

“Discrimination is never right. Shocked #ncga is considering hurting job growth and tourism in NC. Hope cooler heads prevail,” the tweet read.

“We have to compete with cities like Atlanta, Columbia, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Tampa. All these folks have had these ordinances in place to show they are welcoming and they want to attract talent from all over the world. It is my hope that Charlotte will be able to continue to do that, to show we are a 21st century city that is welcoming and open to all,” she added on the night of March 3.

Watch video of the press conference below.

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Posted by Jeff Taylor / Social Media Editor

Jeff Taylor is a journalist and artist. In addition to QNotes, his work has appeared in publications such The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing Charlotte, Inside Lacrosse, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport and has lived in Charlotte since 2006.@jefftaylorhuman.