A divided Charlotte City Council will focus Monday night on a proposed nondiscrimination ordinance that would extend legal protections to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons.
The ordinance would amend various sections of the city code to extend nondiscrimination language to five new characteristics, including sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
The controversial measure has split the city’s faith and business communities and produced a flood of nearly 40,000 emails to council members. At least 75 people have signed up to speak at the 6 p.m. meeting.
Supporters, including members of the LGBT community and liberal clergy, have been working with the city since last year to craft the proposed ordinance, similar versions of which are already on the books in most of the country’s largest cities. Opponents, including conservative church and business leaders, also plan a 4 p.m. Monday rally outside the government center at 600 E. Fourth St.
The most contentious provision in Charlotte, as in some other cities, would allow transgender people to use the bathroom in which they feel most comfortable.
Last month, the Democratic-controlled council voted 7-4 to place the proposed ordinance on an upcoming agenda. But there are signs the vote on it could be close.
If the amendments pass, City Attorney Bob Hagemann said, taxi drivers could not refuse to take lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender passengers; businesses offering goods and services could not discriminate against such persons; and companies could be barred from doing business with the city for two years if they discriminate against LGBT vendors or subcontractors.
What each side says
Supporters say it’s time a city the size of Charlotte extend civil rights protections to its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents. Opponents say businesses could be asked to violate their religious objections to homosexuality and that women and children could be at risk if biological males use women’s bathrooms.