The Charlotte City Council voted 7-4 Monday evening to expand the city’s non-discrimination ordinance to prohibit discrimination in public accommodations. As the Charlotte Observer explains:
‘The changes mean businesses in Charlotte can’t discriminate against gay, lesbian or transgender people, in addition to long-standing protections based on race, age, religion and gender. The ordinance applies to places of public accommodation, such as bars, restaurants and stores. It also applies to taxis.
The most controversial part of the ordinance would allow transgender residents to use either a men’s or women’s bathroom, depending on the gender of which they identify.’
The ordinance is slated to take effect in April, though Gov. Pat McCrory has suggested the General Assembly could take “immediate” action to nullify the local protections.
The ACLU of North Carolina issued a statement praising the landmark vote:
“With this vote, North Carolina’s largest city has affirmed that all people deserve to be treated fairly and protected by the law,” said Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina. “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.”