Originally published: June 20, 2013, 5:08 p.m.
Updated: June 20, 2013, 7:52 p.m.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A statewide anti-LGBT advocacy group is jumping into the conversation on potential LGBT-inclusive changes in a city ordinance regulating business contracts, reported by qnotes on Wednesday morning.
On Thursday afternoon, the NC Values Coalition emailed its supporters and asked them to contact members of the Charlotte City Council. (You can read their full email at the end of this story.)
“We have just learned that there is a movement behind the scenes to get the Charlotte City Council to pass an ordinance that will prohibit companies from doing business with the City unless they have nondiscrimination policies that include include ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity,'” the email reads. “Please take a moment right now to call or email your representatives on the Charlotte City Council and tell them you oppose any and all efforts to impose ‘nondiscrimination’ policies on private Charlotte businesses that would violate their moral, ethical, or religious objections by granting special rights to homosexuals.”
The group says any effort to stem anti-LGBT discrimination would shut out “faith-based businesses and business owners who have moral, ethical or religious objections” to homosexuality.
The city’s Commercial Non-Discrimination Ordinance currently requires businesses seeking to contract with the city to certify that their non-discrimination policies match the city’s. Former City Manager Curt Walton added LGBT protections to his human resources and personnel polices. But, City Council has not voted to add sexual orientation or gender identity to the ordinance, allowing at least $1.1 million in city funding for the Democratic National Convention to go to companies or organizations without fully LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies.
On Tuesday, Councilmember LaWana Mayfield (D-Dist. 3) said talks on the ordinance could be in the works, though she was not aware of any current proposals in front of Council. Mayfield said the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) may be working on the issue.
“Our current city manager, Ron Carlee, will be open to hearing anything,” she said. “At the meeting he attended at the LGBT Community Center [on May 23], [MeckPAC Chair] Scott Bishop did mention that MeckPAC will bring some initiatives to the Council, so that should be one of the ones that will be coming forward.”
On Thursday afternoon, Mayfield said she had not yet received any messages in opposition to the potential changes.
“When/if this is brought to Council I will support the effort if it falls into our guidelines,” she said in an emailed message to qnotes.
Councilmember John Autry (D-Dist. 5) said he was unaware with the particulars of the ordinance. He declined to comment specifically on that proposal but said he “would support policies that reject discrimination of any kind, any time, any where.”
Councilmember Claire Fallon (D-At Large) also indicated support.
“I believe everyone is entitled to their civil rights,” she said via email. “A right to be treated fairly is a very important part of this to my way of thinking, No one should be discriminated against for a right to work if they fit the job.”
MeckPAC Chair Scott Bishop and committee member Roberta Dunn weren’t willing to speak publicly on Thursday about the potential changes and had no response to the NC Values Coalition email.
Other community leaders say they are supportive of any plan to make the city’s business climate more LGBT-friendly. The Charlotte Business Guild, an LGBT business owners and professionals group, hosted Mayfield for their June meeting on Tuesday where she spoke about the city’s new minority business program.
Business Guild President Teresa Davis told qnotes she believes Council “absolutely needs to change” the commercial ordinance. She also said she looks forward to working with the city to better outreach to LGBT-owned businesses.
The NC Values Coalition falsely claimed the potential ordinance change could lead to enforcement of LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies on all businesses in the city. The city, however, has no legal authority to regulate private businesses with its own city-wide non-discrimination policy.
The coalition and its leader, Tami Fitzgerald, were the lead supporters of last year’s anti-LGBT marriage amendment.
Requests for comment from other Council members and Fitzgerald weren’t returned at the time of publication.
Before publication, Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) Chair Scott Bishop told qnotes his organization was not willing to comment on the potential ordinance change. After this story’s publication, MeckPAC committee member Roberta Dunn issued the following statement in this article’s comment section below.
Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee(MeckPAC) is disappointed that people still want to discriminate against a minority in the Great City of Charlotte. MeckPAC wants all businesses that do business with Charlotte and accept tax dollars to adopt a nondiscrimination policy equal to Charlotte’s. If you want our tax dollars don’t discriminate.
To tell people that LGBT people have special rights is a lie the fact is we have fewer rights than most people. Of course faith based business could be excluded, as always faith based organizations and business have special rights that others don’t including tax exemptions that other business don’t have.
It is sad that Tami Fitzgerald of the NC Values Coalition has to have a press release to continue to express her homophobic ideals on all of Charlotte. Does she not believe that all people are created equal?
NC Values Coalition email
Below is the email sent to supporters by the NC Values Coalition. Bolding and emphasis has been retained from the original email.
From: Tami Fitzgerald
Date: Thursday, June 20, 2013
Subject: Is your Charlotte area business about to lose its religious freedom?
Charlotte residents –
We have just learned that there is a movement behind the scenes to get the Charlotte City Council to pass an ordinance that will prohibit companies from doing business with the City unless they have nondiscrimination policies that include include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. This would keep businesses that are operated by Christian principles from being eligible to do business with the City of Charlotte.
Please take a moment right now to call or email your representatives on the Charlotte City Council and tell them you oppose any and all efforts to impose “nondiscrimination” policies on private Charlotte businesses that would violate their moral, ethical, or religious objections by granting special rights to homosexuals.
According to Qnotes, a LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) publication, the LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) intends to ask the Charlotte City Council to require that any businesses that have contracts with the City or would like to contract with the City must adopt nondiscrimination policies that give special rights to homosexuals on the basis of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The City of Charlotte did $1.1 million worth of business with contractors who did not meet the LGBT’s standards during the Democratic National Convention.
If such a city ordinance had been in place during the Democrat National Convention, faith-based and other businesses would have lost out on over $1 million in business simply because they don’t have nondiscrimination policies that give homosexuals special rights. Imagine how many North Carolina based companies would be shut out of doing business with the City of Charlotte if such a city ordinance were to pass.
If such an ordinance goes into effect, faith-based businesses and business owners who have moral, ethical, or religious objections to would be shut out of doing business with the City of Charlotte.
And next, the LGBT community will start pushing the City of Charlotte to impose this nondiscrimination policy on all businesses, even ones that don’t contract with the City of Charlotte. This has happened all across the country even in states that have passed a Marriage Amendment, like North Carolina. Nondiscrimination policies like these are what have led to countless lawsuits against business owners whose religious or ethical beliefs prevent them from providing services to or hiring homosexauls.
This is a gross violation of the First Amendment rights of business owners. It is outrageous, and business owners and taxpayers in Charlotte must speak out!
Please call the Charlotte City Council today!