Video: Charlotte’s 1992 public accommodation debate

Video documents 1992 debate, reveals anti-LGBT arguments that are much the same today

Nearly 23 years ago, Charlotte City Council debated a measure substantially similar to one they’ll hear on March 2. In November 1992, the topic was adding sexual orientation to the city’s public accommodation ordinance. The measure was rejected 7-4, and it remains the only time Charlotte City Council has ever directly and publicly voted on an LGBT-inclusive ordinance or policy.

Filmmaker Wesley Johnson documented that debate in 1992 and aired his film, “Charlotte Subculture: Gay Life in the Queen City” on public access TV in 1993. He posted the video on YouTube last month, but it’s just now come to light and shared on social media this week.

The nearly hour-long video contains a treasure trove of comments from that 1992 debate, including a  whole host of characters familiar to us today, including former Charlotte Mayor and current Gov. Pat McCrory, who was on Council at the time and voted against the measure. Another familiar name is Charles Page, then the pastor of First Baptist Church. The church’s current pastor, Mark Harris, has taken up his predecessor’s opposition to LGBT inclusion. Even former Mayor Harvey Gantt makes an appearance in the video, arguing for adoption of the ordinance.

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And the video also includes current Mayor Dan Clodfelter, also on the Council at the time. Clodfelter referenced the 1992 debate on Feb. 9, when Council decided to advance the current proposal to a business agenda.

“I was on the losing side of this issue 22 years ago. … That’s a long time ago,” Clodfelter told Council. “I will say that I do hope to be on the winning side this time.”

City leaders will have the opportunity to rehear the debate on LGBT inclusion when they take up the current measure in two weeks.

But what they’ll be hearing from anti-LGBT opponents are largely the same arguments and scare tactics used in 1992. Any one of the comments from anti-LGBT leaders could, quite literally, be copied and pasted into a speech today. In fact, we’re betting you’ll hear some of the exact same phrases and arguments come March 2. Seems very little has changed in Charlotte in the last two decades.

Here’s the remarkably revealing video, with excerpts from anti-LGBT opposition below. (For a bonus, click here for a PDF of the Council minutes from the time, including comments from the public and Council members; the minutes begin on page 11 and end on page 23.)

WARNING: Some of the language and rhetoric in the video and reprinted below includes erroneous and inaccurate information on LGBT people, as well as harsh language which might not be suitable for all viewers or readers.

 

Charles Page, pastor, First Baptist Church

In the previous discussions, there was one thing that was missing and I couldn’t help but recognize it and that was any word about the Bible, the Holy Scriptures. There are literally thousands of citizens in this city who believe the Bible is the supreme law and the guide to life and this amendment under consideration is highly offensive to this large segment of our population. I believe pressure has been brought to bear on this community to condone the gay lifestyle and it is for this reason that we are here this evening.

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I could mention many Old Testament scriptures and share them with you that are very plain in what they have to say, but let me jus share one New Testament scripture and even the most elementary Bible student would understand the meaning of this passage. It is found in Romans 1:24-27. [Page quotes the scripture passage, which you can read here.] … One city in history has already been brought under judgment because of its blatant homosexual lifestyle and the lack of moral restraint. We need to learn the lesson of history or repeat it. If we must accept the homosexual behavior to be a world class city, I vote to pass on that honor.

Linda Overfield, Concerned Women for America

We are here tonight because you will be voting on weather to give homosexual and bisexuals special privileges and protected rights status based on their behavior, namely oral and anal sex. The State of North Carolina has a statute, section 14-177, “Crimes Against Nature,” which includes sodomy as a crime. In 1986, the Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s criminal sodomy statute, saying, “Homosexual practices constitute behavior and behavior is not a constitutionally protected class.” …

According to the Gay Report, many homosexuals don’t practice their behavior in private. They commonly engage in sex acts in parks, public restrooms, libraries, bars, etc. And the Homosexual Report found that 51 percent of the homosexuals surveyed thought they should be granted the right to engage in public sex at any time or place. Again, this is the behavior they wish to exhibit. Is this what we want to be confronted with in the public streets and parks of our beautiful city?

Other behavioral-based groups such as perpetrators of incest, bestiality, pedophiles and necrophiles, can’t openly exhibit their sexual preferences. What makes homosexuals more worthy of special protection than these groups? The psychological reports found that homosexuals represent two percent of the population but commit one-third of all child molestation. In other words, they are pedophiles. And though only two percent, they have 80 percent of all the sexually transmitted diseases which were acquired directly from their sexual behavior. Again, is this behavior something you want to give protected status to?

Hoyle Martin, City Council member

There is hope that those of you who are in the gay community … you can return from that. You can get away from that.

[In comments to the filmmaker:] The reason I take strong exception, it’s another ploy, another step, another effort on the part of the gay community to impose their standards on what we live in this community.

Pat McCrory, City Council member

I think there is a lack of knowledge and lack of information on both sides of this issue. I do not think the Community Relations Committee heard a more moderate or conservative viewpoint on this issue. I was very disappointed that this was a unanimous decision. I don’t think they heard the other side of this issue before unanimously voting for this ordinance to be passed. To me, the committee that voted on this had a lack of knowledge and lack of education on where the community is divided on this issue.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.