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Anthony Foxx: NC’s new LGBT law ‘isn’t who we are’

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx talks to the crowd at the Rotary Club of Charlotte's weekly lunch at the Fairfield Inn & Suites on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx talks to the crowd at the Rotary Club of Charlotte's weekly lunch at the Fairfield Inn & Suites on Tuesday, March 29, 2016. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, former Charlotte mayor, said the state’s controversial new LGBT law in North Carolina “isn’t who we are.”

Speaking with reporters in uptown Charlotte, Foxx said the recent measure distracts from important conversations that should be taking place instead, such as how to help children who aren’t making progress in school or how to repair crumbling bridges.

“As a North Carolinian, it pains me to see the state going through this because it’s entirely avoidable and unnecessary. Frankly, we’re having this big food fight over who people love, and why are we doing it?” Foxx said.

The new law signed Wednesday by Gov. Pat McCrory limits legal protections of LGBT individuals by setting a statewide definition of protected classes of citizens. The new law means schools and local governments are not allowed to adopt more inclusive rules. Legislative leaders said they took action in response to Charlotte’s expanded nondiscrimination ordinance that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender with which they identify.

Critics of the Charlotte ordinance cite privacy concerns and say it was “social engineering” to allow people born as biological males to enter women’s restrooms.

Already major employers, sports organizations, government leaders elsewhere in the U.S., universities and groups planning events in Charlotte have voiced their disapproval of the measure.

“Look at the tourism industry that everyone joined together to make much more successful here in Charlotte. Hosting the (2012) DNC put Charlotte on a different stage. To see that eaten away because of a single decision by the legislature is really disappointing,” said Foxx, who served as mayor from 2009-’13.

He added that his office is reviewing the legislation to see whether there is a potential loss of federal transportation funding to North Carolina.

“It’s incredibly hard for me to watch what’s happening here in North Carolina because I know fundamentally this isn’t who we are. But ultimately people have to remember that the people they elect make these decisions, and they’ve got to think about that moving forward,” Foxx said.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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