Charlotte Chamber: The City Council has an opportunity on HB2

Bob Morgan
Bob Morgan

From Bob Morgan, president of the Charlotte Chamber:

As The Charlotte City Council considers action regarding non-discrimination policies, some will argue that no deal is a good one. The chamber agrees that the only acceptable outcome are policies at the city and state level that prohibit discrimination against all people. We fear that if the City Council doesn’t take a first step, the crushing economic suffering, much of it hurting low wage hospitality workers, will continue for years while the courts ultimately resolve the issue.

The ask by the legislature that Charlotte act first carries with it an overture to begin rebuilding trust. To reject that overture likely only further impairs a relationship that needs repair. The legislature has made clear to anyone who will listen that once Charlotte acts they alone bear the burden of modifying HB2 to restore, and hopefully expand, non-discrimination provisions.

We often hear that our City Council “lit the match” in passing the non-discrimination ordinance earlier this year. The symbolism associated with the request that the Council rescind an ordinance that, like other ordinances, is on the books but invalid, carries with it the ability for our city to say we also subsequently acted to disarm members of the legislature who would make such claims.

To be clear, the Charlotte Chamber rejects discrimination in any form. We applaud the Council’s actions to pursue ordinances and take other actions that affirm our city as an open and welcoming place for all people, including the LGBT community, to live, work and enjoy all that our city has to offer.

We believe the Council should act to take the first step in a process we hope leads to reforms to HB2 that advance our city and state as places where discrimination is not tolerated – for anyone. Doing so demonstrates our city and legislature can be responsive to each other. Doing so will result in our city being engaged in advancing corrective legislation – not backing off its core and appropriate beliefs. Taking the first step is another opportunity for our city to demonstrate it is leading the effort in our state to advance the rights of the LGBT community to live their lives feeling safe and accepted and not discriminated against.

We support action on the issue during this session of the General Assembly that will expand protections for the LGBT community. It is also important to address concerns expressed by the NBA and others in the business community that the current policies have put our economic future at risk. Inaction by city council followed by inaction at the Legislative Building will not lead to progress by anyone’s definition.