On Tuesday the Campbell University School of Law hosted elected officials from across Wake County as they celebrated new LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances in Raleigh, Knightdale and Morrisville.
Leaders from those communities signed a joint ceremonial document in support of protections from discrimination in employment and public accommodation in places like restaurants and hotels.
As Policy Watch has reported, the new ordinances became possible when a state ban on new local protections — including nondiscrimination ordinances for employment and housing — was lifted. The ban was a legacy of the brutal fight over HB 2 and HB 142, the controversial laws that excluded lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from statewide nondiscrimination protections.
Since the ban on new ordinances expired, 18 communities across the state have adopted non-discrimination ordinances.
Campbell’s law school has taken the lead in helping resolve complaints filed through the ordinance process.
Kendra Johnson, executive director of Equality North Carolina, applauded the signing in a statement Tuesday.
“Today we celebrated the commitment of Raleigh, Knightdale and Morrisville to making their communities inclusive of all,” Johnson said. “No one should have to fear bigotry based on their ZIP code, nor should they have to move to avoid discrimination. Having non-discrimination ordinances sends a clear and powerful message that all people are welcomed and included in their home communities.”
In its statement, Equality NC stressed new and proactive state and federal protections are still needed.
“We celebrate this commitment to equality and look forward to North Carolina being a stellar example of what diversity and equity look like in legislation,” the group said in its statement. “The momentum behind these signings shows that North Carolina stands ready, and we encourage others to communicate to their local leaders now is the time to pass LGBTQ protections, demand that our state lawmakers fully repeal discriminatory laws and enact proactive protections, and urge our elected officials in the United States Congress and the NCGA to support comprehensive nondiscrimination laws.”
As Policy Watch reported last month, North Carolina has so far resisted a national wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation. But LGBTQ advocates and Democratic state lawmakers warn of gathering momentum for such laws on the political right. With elections looming, the political calculus at both the state and federal level could soon change.