CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte City Council voted unanimously on Monday to rescind its expanded nondiscrimination ordinance, prompting Gov. Pat McCrory to call for a special session to consider the repeal of House Bill 2.
The 10-0 vote came unexpectedly, reportedly after a push to do so by Governor-elect Roy Cooper.
“Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore assured me that as a result of Charlotte’s vote, a special session will be called for Tuesday to repeal HB 2 in full. I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full,” Cooper said in a statement after the city council voted to repeal the ordinance.
“Full repeal will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state,” he continued.
Councilmember Julie Eiselt told The Charlotte Observer that Cooper called her late Sunday night to ask that she vote “to clean up the books” by doing away with the already nullified ordinance, as it was believed to be the best chance to get a repeal of HB2.
The city council has resisted calls to compromise up to now, prompting a spokesman for McCrory to claim the move to do so now was politically motivated.
“Gov. Pat McCrory has always advocated a repeal of the over-reaching Charlotte ordinance, but those efforts were always blocked by Jennifer Roberts, Roy Cooper and other Democratic activists,” spokesman Graham Wilson said. “This sudden reversal, with little notice after the gubernatorial election, sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor’s race at the expense or Charlotte and our entire state.”
HB2 boycotts have cost the state millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs. The repeal could help end those boycotts, and will allow Charlotte, as well as other cities and municipalities, to vote on expanded nondiscrimination ordinances.
Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles, who recently announced she is considering a mayoral run, said they will likely attempt to do just that, but did not go on to say what those protections might look like.
Mayor Roberts said the vote to repeal the ordinance “should in no way be viewed as a compromise of our principles or commitment to non-discrimination.”
Chances are they will not include transgender public accommodations protections, as that would likely restart the fight between the city and the state. The NCGA remains in overwhelming Republican control, at least until next year’s elections.
The repeal of the ordinance includes language which will reinstate it if the NCGA doesn’t repeal HB2 by Dec. 31 of this year.
“Governor-elect Cooper has briefed us on a deal he brokered with state lawmakers to reach a complete and total repeal of HB2,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a joint statement with Equality North Carolina. “HB2 is precisely why North Carolinians went to the polls and ousted Governor McCrory last month. It’s time to chart a new course guided by the state’s values of dignity and respect, not discrimination and hate — and to ensure non-discrimination protections exist in cities, towns and across the state of North Carolina. It’s been 271 days since the shameful and archaic HB2 was first passed, and the entire country has witnessed its devastating impact. It’s time for state lawmakers to repeal HB2 and begin repairing the harm this bill has done to people and the damage it has done to North Carolina’s reputation and economy.”
The Human Rights Campaign had previously been calling for the city council to resist a compromise. So too had Equality North Carolina.
“The problem has never been Charlotte. Charlotte’s ordinance was a best practice employed in hundreds of cities across the country,” said Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro. “The Charlotte City Council and mayor did the right thing by passing their ordinance — HB2 is wrong. Since its passage, the deeply discriminatory HB2 has hurt our economy and people. Now, the General Assembly must fully repeal HB2 so that we can start the necessary talks for protecting LGBTQ people and bring back businesses across the state. We look forward to working with Governor-elect Cooper to win protections community by community and statewide.”
“Many city council members campaigned on the promises to provide protections for the LGBT community and have said, throughout the past several months, that these protections are non-negotiable,” MeckPAC said in a statement. They stressed that they “will continue to work with local leaders and hold elected officials accountable to the promises they have made.”
“We are calling for the passage of inclusive ordinances, and/or statewide statutes protecting all LGBT people from discrimination,” they added.
This article was updated to add a statement from MeckPAC.