CHARLOTTE, N.C. — We recently broke a story that Charlotte City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield announced on Twitter that she would not be setting foot inside a soon-to-opened restaurant over the owner’s anti-LGBTQ activism.
Picking up on our reporting, qnotes publishing partner The Charlotte Observer reached out to Mayfield and Noble for comment.
Noble explained his objection to expanding Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance, having signed onto a letter asking Council to vote against it in 2015. It was drafted by far-right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, currently defending the baker in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case before the Supreme Court.
Noble explained that he opposed the ordinance because it granted transgender people the right to use bathrooms matching their gender identity, claiming to do so would put children at risk. That line of argument is popular among anti-LGBTQ groups, such as the NC Values Coalition.
“The main thing was the bathroom issue. That’s why I didn’t like it. The same as I’m responsible that everybody who works for my company is protected, I have to protect little kids of customers. That part’s the part I didn’t like.”
Meanwhile, an unbiased look at the data shows that the real people at risk when we talk about issues surrounding transgender bathroom use are trans people themselves, who are often targeted for abuse and harassment.
He also attempted to explain a sign he had hanging in his restaurants that read, “WANTED: FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD,” and the following list: “Drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, pimps, all sick people, gangbangers, gamblers, strippers, AIDS victims, homosexuals, blind, confused, shoplifters, depressed, suicidal people, demon-possessed, and those who are unsaved and cursed by witchcraft.”
Noble said he has updated the sign to read “sinners” instead.
And to be clear, he still considers LGBTQ people to be among that lot:
“All of us, according to the Bible, are born according to sin,” he said.
Pressed on whether he considers homosexuality a sin, Noble responded more than once: “I have to go by what the Bible says to determine what is or what isn’t sin.”
He added that he does not discriminate and that he thinks Mayfield would like him if she knew him.
Mayfield reiterated that she had no intention of frequenting any of Jim Noble’s establishments, neither the new venture, Noble Smoke, nor any of his other restaurants. Those include Rooster’s and King’s Kitchen in Charlotte and A Noble Grille in Winston-Salem.
She also said her own personal refusal to patronize any of Noble’s restaurants was not intended to be read as a call for others to do likewise.
“I did not and I am not calling for a boycott,” she said. “I’m just saying we (her family) have chosen not to spend our money at his establishment.”
“As the District Representative I am happy for growth, as an OUT Queer Person of Color I will NEVER patronize this business as Noble is one of the signers against the fully inclusive non-discrimination ordinance,” she wrote on Twitter late last month.
“Any business that is within my district where I know that they signed on to the letter to support discrimination through legislation, I will not patronize knowingly,” she told The Observer.