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“This is about dignity.” Mecklenburg County advances non-discrimination ordinances protecting LGBTQ people

With Tuesday’s unanimous vote, Mecklenburg County is poised to become the 13th local government in North Carolina to approve LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections.

The ordinances ensure protections in private employment and places of public accommodations – such as restaurants and businesses – from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and natural hairstyle.

Commissioner Leigh Altman told her colleagues on the board it was time to listen to the concerns of the LGBTQ community.

“We are all God’s children, and we are entitled to live in peace and dignity. But that doesn’t happen by well wishes alone,” said Altman in her prepared remarks.

Commissioner Pat Cotham also spoke passionately about the need to embrace this change.

Commissioner Pat Cotham

“This is about dignity. But you don’t have dignity, unless you have strength. And this ordinance is the strength. Because otherwise you can say ‘Here’s your dignity’ but if you can’t do anything about it, you really don’t have dignity,” Cotham explained.

The amended ordinance include all employers.

While the move by the county commissioners will require one more vote to become law, the action is drawing praise from advocacy organizations across the state.

“Measures like these will make Mecklenburg County a better place, especially for people with multiple layers of marginalization,” said Kendra R. Johnson, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina. “We applaud the Commissioners for taking this action, and we encourage them to pass this NDO swiftly.”

“Now Commissioners must finalize the vote and join 12 other communities across North Carolina with strong nondiscrimination ordinances on the books. It’s time to ensure that no one is left vulnerable to discrimination in our state,” said the Campaign for Southern Equality’s Allison Scott.

With the sunset of HB142, numerous municipalities have passed nondiscrimination ordinances this year including: Apex, Asheville, Buncombe County, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Hillsborough, and Orange County.

Click below to hear Commissioner Leigh Altman’s remarks:

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