CHARLOTTE, NC (Jim Morrill/The Charlotte Observer) - Republican state Rep. Dan Bishop Tuesday slammed Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and the Charlotte City Council for considering what he called a "radical transgender proposal," and warned of consequences in court or in the General Assembly.
The council is expected to revive a proposal similar to one it defeated last year. In March the council rejected a proposed non-discrimination ordinance that would have extended protections to gay and transgender people.
The ordinance failed on a controversial provision involving access to public bathrooms by transgender people.
"Unless something changes fast, Charlotte will be 'winning' national headlines for kowtowing to a small group of radical LGBT activists," Bishop wrote in a news release. "A small group of far-out progressives should not presume to decide for us all that a cross-dresser's liberty to express his gender nonconformity trumps the right of women and girls to peace of mind…"
Bishop is running for the Senate seat that will be vacated by Sen. Bob Rucho. He faces Democrat Lloyd Scher in November. Both are former Mecklenburg County commissioners.
Janice Covington, a transgender activist from Charlotte, said, "The only thing we want is the same rights as everybody else."
"There's no case history in the United States where a transgender person has been charged with molesting a child or a woman or anybody for that matter in a restroom," she said in an interview.
Bishop, a lawyer, said a new ordinance could impose the new bathroom policy on every public restroom.
"This includes restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms, the YMCA/YWCA, and every office building and retailer," he wrote. "Court decisions elsewhere suggest it also reaches professional offices and membership organizations such as youth athletic leagues, possibly the Boy Scouts or even a private preschool. The proposal doesn't even clearly exempt churches."
Bishop said the mayor and council "are about to commit a political and legal overreach." He said Roberts has vowed to bring back the issue.
In response, Roberts said the Community Building Initiative and the Community Relations Committee have scheduled a public meeting on the proposed ordinance Feb. 1 at at the Palmer Building.
"Discrimination is never right," she said in a statement. "The business community understands this and has been a leader in LGBT non-discrimination. Charlotte is committed to being a welcoming, inclusive and fair community where all people are treated with dignity and respect."
In an interview, Bishop said the ordinance would face a challenge in court. He said it also could prompt a response in the legislature. Among other things, he said, lawmakers could decide to give Charlotte voters the right to reject ordinances through a public referendum process.