CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Organizations across the state have begun lobbying members of City Council in earnest this week, as anti-LGBT advocates plan to also mobilize their supporters and hold a protest in Charlotte on Feb. 23, the day local leaders will take up LGBT-inclusive proposals.
“Extreme forces have set their sights on preventing elected leaders from updating non-discrimination ordinances to protect gay and transgender Charlotteans from arbitrary discrimination,” Equality North Carolina, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, has told its supporters.
Equality NC is urging citizens and residents across the state to contact the Charlotte City Council. Efforts to mobilize voters and residents are also being undertaken by a coalition of local groups. They’re now reaching out to local organizations and leaders.
Charlotte City Council is set to consider updates to four non-discrimination ordinances at their meeting on Feb. 23. The updates would add, among other characteristics, sexual orientation and gender identity to the lists of already protected classes and would outlaw unfair treatment in public accommodations, by city contractors and elsewhere.
Anti-LGBT voices have latched onto an opportunity to prevent equal protection and they’re already leading in the lobbying effort. Some Charlotte City Council members told qnotes on Thursday that they’d received as much as 13 times as many emails opposed to the LGBT-inclusive changes as those in favor of the proposals. The emails have come from across the state. By Friday, after Equality NC launched their petition effort, dozens more emails had been received, with those in favor of the ordinance changes beginning to outweighing those against.
The North Carolina Values Coalition, which led the state’s anti-LGBT marriage amendment campaign in 2012, messaged their members with an action alert on Wednesday.
That was followed Thursday by Mark Harris, pastor of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church and a former president of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention. He told his followers to also contact Charlotte City Council.
Both Harris and the North Carolina Values Coalition described the ordinance updates as a “bathroom bill” and played on fears and prejudices against transgender people, painting them as predators and pedophiles.
Fitzgerald told The Christian Post on Friday that her group will stage a protest at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 23, the day Council will take up the proposals.
“Pastors are very upset about this, as they were in Houston and San Antonio. They are arming their people to rise up against their city leaders,” Fitzgerald told the newspaper. “If the people who we elect to represent us at the city level are out of step with the majority of people living in their cities, they shouldn’t expect to go back to the city council next time they are up for reelection.”
Citizens will have the opportunity to speak on the proposal at the Feb. 23 meeting. Those wishing to speak can sign up online or call the city. More instructions on how to speak at the meeting are available here.