Charlotte, NC City Council Dares Gov. Pat McCrory To Police Bathrooms

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Last night, the city council of Charlotte, NC ignored threats from Gov. Pat McCrory to take state action if they passed an LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance.

Voting 7-4 to extend the city’s protection to everyone regardless of marital or family status, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression, the council set up a showdown with culture warriors in charge of the state legislature.

The moment of the vote, which can be seen at this link, followed a contentious three-hour debate featuring 140 speakers. Civil rights leaders praised the city council afterwards.

‘With this vote, North Carolina’s largest city has affirmed that all people deserve to be treated fairly and protected by the law,’ Sarah Preston, the ACLU of North Carolina’s acting Executive Director said. ‘When a business decides to open its doors to the public, it should be open to everyone on the same terms. We applaud Charlotte’s council members for making their city more safe, welcoming, and inclusive, and we urge municipal leaders across the state to follow their example. Charlotte has full authority to enact this ordinance, and we hope the General Assembly will respect this local government’s decision to protect its residents and visitors from discrimination.’

Regurgitating harmful and bigoted myths about trans issues in an email to two city council members yesterday, McCrory indicated that he would support the state legislature moving against the ordinance immediately after it convenes in May.

Repeating the popular conservative myth that helped defeat Houston’s LGBT protections last fall, McCrory warned in an email that ‘changing basic restroom and locker room norms’ will somehow put women and children at risk. ‘This shift in policy could also create major public safety issues by putting citizens in possible danger from deviant actions by individuals taking improper advantage of a bad policy. Also, this action of allowing a person with male anatomy, for example, to use a female restroom or locker room will most likely cause immediate State legislative intervention which I would support as governor.’

Responding to McCrory, this morning the Charlotte Observer‘s editorial board pointed out the hypocrisy of his opposition to federal litigation regarding transgender students.

‘Back in November, the governor said local schools should decide bathroom rights for transgender students. He spoke out against the Obama administration for joining a legal case aimed at giving boys’ bathroom access to a transgender Virginia student who was born female but identifies as male.’

‘McCrory wrote a letter to his likely gubernatorial opponent, Attorney General Roy Cooper, demanding that the state’s top legal officer fight this “unacceptable and unnecessary” federal overreach.’

‘Now here we are, just three months later, and the governor is engaging in “unacceptable and unnecessary” state overreach into the city of Charlotte’s debate over anti-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian and transgender citizens.’

Carrying signs that read “No Men In Women’s Restrooms,” “Keep Kids Safe,” and other long-debunked messages of anti-trans fear and loathing, members of North Carolina Values Coalition picketed outside to protest the measure.

Chris Williams, a 30-year-old father of three, passed out “No” stickers to the crowd, saying most Charlotte residents “stand with religious values.”

“I don’t want my kids having to even question, ‘Why is there this person in the restroom?'” he said. “I don’t think they should even be faced with that question and that concern.”

Of course, the real question is why Mr. Williams thinks his children should worry about what is in other people’s underwear. For that matter, Gov. McCrory’s urge to check every bathroom user for a rogue penis seems downright creepy rather than ‘Christian.’

Featured Image by Hal Goodtree via Flickr, available under a Creative Commons license.