CHARLOTTE, NC, March 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — City officials in Charlotte, NC, have narrowly rejected a proposal to expand the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance to include sexual preference and “gender identity.”
The 6-to-5 vote came after a contentious city council meeting during which more than a hundred concerned citizens took to the podium, mainly to oppose the proposal. It would have required employers, businesses, and property owners to accommodate homosexuals and so-called “transgender” individuals.
Most of the concern regarding the proposal came from people who objected to the idea of self-identified “transgender” people being permitted to use the bathroom and changing facilities of their choice, without regard for biological sex. In other locales where similar laws have been passed, allegations of sexual assault and harassment have surfaced after boys and men used facilities meant for women and girls.
“No man wants his wife in a locker room with other men who may decide they want to come in that same locker room,” said Dr. Gabriel Rogers of the Kingdom Christian Church of Charlotte, speaking at a rally before the vote.
Charlotte resident Jeannette Wilson testified before the city council that she was “frustrated. … Homosexuals want those who disagree with them to be defeated, [but] I will not be silenced. A man’s right to choose the lady’s room is ridiculous and it’s dangerous.”
Others said they were concerned that the law would force business owners to participate in same-sex “weddings,” even if gay “marriage” violates their religious beliefs. A coalition of 95 local pastors sent a letter to the council ahead of the vote predicting that the proposed ordinance “will create unnecessary tensions, lawsuits and violate the Constitutional protections of all Charlotteans … by requiring them to give up their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, religion and association.”
Outrage over the proposal was widespread. City council members said they received countless phone calls and nearly 40,000 emails about the proposed ordinance, in addition to the hundreds of people who rallied outside city hall in advance of the vote.
“I have gotten more emails on this than any issue in the 10 years I’ve been on council,” councilman Michael Barnes, a Democrat, told WBTV.
Once it became clear that the public was not prepared to allow men to enter women’s restrooms, nor vice-versa, the council opted to remove the bathroom provision from the final version of the proposal. But that led to a backlash from the council’s most left-leaning members, who refused to vote for a watered-down version of the bill.
“I will not and I cannot support an amendment that does not protect all of our citizens,” said Democrat LaWana Mayfield. She was joined in her protest vote by Democrat John Autry, who promised to keep pushing for an ordinance that gives transgender people what they say they want.
Transgender activists backed the pair’s play. “The amendment (to remove the bathroom section) would have gutted a significant portion of the ordinance,” Paige Dula, spokeswoman for the Genderlines transgender activist group, told The Charlotte Observer.
Meanwhile, the proposal’s opponents said they were pleased by the outcome of the vote.
“We are very pleased with the Charlotte City Council’s decision to reject the ordinance which proposed burdens on religious small business owners and would have endangered our communities,” said Jim Quick, a spokesman for “Don’t Do It Charlotte,” which led the fight against the bill. “Now that this ordinance has been stopped in North Carolina’s largest city we hope other cities are emboldened to continue to boldly stand for religious liberty across North Carolina.”
Pastor Mark Harris of First Baptist Church Charlotte told the Observer he was “very surprised, and pleasantly so” by the city’s decision to reject a proposal he sees as unnecessary.
“I feel like Charlotte is a very tolerant city,” Harris said. “This was more of a solution looking for a problem.”