In yet another anti-LGBT move this year, lawmakers in the North Carolina House of Representatives pulled a sneak attack through an amendment that would strip away the ability of local municipalities to enact ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The amendment, which was introduced in conference committee and attached to a bill on sex education, would also nullify existing municipal nondiscrimination ordinances. Currently, three counties and seven cities or towns prohibit discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, with two more counties and four more cities having protections in place for sexual orientation only. The town of Chapel Hill’s nondiscrimination ordinance also extends to private employment.
According to The Charlotte Observer, the bill is also drawing fire because of its broad nature: not only would the legislation prevent localities from passing pro-LGBT ordinances, but other ordinances, such as ones that a higher minimum wage, or require certain regulations for employment practices, affordable housing, or those guaranteeing access to public accommodations.
The bill is expected to be voted upon in the House and the Senate on Tuesday, meaning it could be signed immediately into law by Gov. Pat McCrory (R). McCrory previously vetoed another anti-LGBT bill that allowed state officials to recuse themselves from performing or issuing a license for same-sex marriages if they feel doing so violates their religious beliefs.
Supporters of the bill claim it is needed to streamline regulations to make it easier to do business in the state. But Wake County Commissioner John Burns has criticized the bill, saying it would “prevent cities such as Raleigh, Apex, Wake Forest or the County of Wake from passing and implementing many ordinances that result in progress.”
“It’s an unwarranted intrusion on local authority,” Burns said. “It’s an unwarranted intrusion on local authority. The word outrageous barely covers how truly disgusting this kind of ‘government’ is.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) blasted the last-minute amendment and called upon lawmakers to reject the bill.
“Fair-minded North Carolinians should be outraged at this despicable attempt to strip away local control and deny municipal governments the ability to pass nondiscrimination protections for their LGBT residents and visitors,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We urge the North Carolina Assembly to reject this outrageous attack on LGBT North Carolinians and their families, and we urge Governor Pat McCrory to come out strongly in opposition to this disgraceful legislation.”