About a dozen supporters of a proposed ordinance to ban discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons rallied Monday morning in front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, where a divided City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal Monday night.
“You have heard a lot of fearful rhetoric from a small, but vocal group of opponents,” said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina. “The loudest voices in the room are not always representing the majority.…This is the right thing to do, for fairness, for business and for our community.”
If the ordinance passes, taxi drivers could not refuse to take LGBT passengers, businesses offering goods and services could not discriminate against LGBT consumers, and companies could be barred from doing business with the city for two years if they discriminate against LBGT vendors or subcontractors.
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The most contentious provision of the ordinance would allow transgender people to use the restroom in which they feel most comfortable. Opponents say that could make women and children vulnerable to potential assault from sexual predators if biological males use women’s restrooms.
Sgro called that a “red herring…Trans-people already use the restroom that matches the gender that they identify with. This just makes it so that they cannot be harassed when they do so....Nobody’s going to be able to prey on another individual in the bathroom. There are already laws that protect against that.…This is about protecting trans-people who also deserve to be safe in bathrooms.”
Opponents also say the changes could require business owners to violate their religious beliefs by serving people who are gay or transgender.
Sgro, who also represents the Charlotte Non-Discrimination Ordinance Coalition, said, “These anti-discrimination measures simply make the City of Charlotte a safe place for gay and trans-people to work, live and travel.”