CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts says the city is "is not prepared" to discuss repealing the city's non-discrimination ordinance that led to House Bill 2 at its meeting Monday night.
The announcement comes after legislative leaders announced the possibility of a short session of the General Assembly to repeal the law, but made dropping the Charlotte ordinance a condition for repealing HB2.
Even after Roberts' announcement, dozens attended the schedule zoning meeting to show their support for the council's decision.
Hannah Hawkins was one of them.
"A lot of us decided that we still wanted to come out, show a presence and support... We are silencing marginalized communities and none of us are free until all of us are free," Hawkins said.
Before the meeting, council members voiced their concerns over the HB2 fallout to the media, Monday evening.
Councilwoman Claire Fallon is frustrated.
"I wish we had statesman instead of politicians and did what was best for this city, which is bleeding, alright? It's bleeding business, it's bleeding jobs," she said.
Councilwoman Vy Lyles says the problem is in the state's hands.
"We don't have to help the state out because the state can take this action. In fact, they're the only people who can take the action," she said.
What is House Bill 2?
HB2 requires individuals to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate in government buildings, schools and universities, and initially took away the ability of employees to sue their employers in state court for discrimination or wrongful termination, among other things.
Months later, the legislature voted only to change a portion of HB2 that stripped workers of the right to sue their employers for wrongful termination.
The bill was passed in a one-day special session in late March and was signed by Governor McCrory later that night.
It came as a response to a non-discrimination ordinance passed in February by the Charlotte City Council. The ordinance broadly defined how businesses should treat gay, lesbian and transgender customers. The debate, as in other cities, focused on bathrooms.
Council won't consider ordinance repeal Monday
"The City of Charlotte continues its commitment to be a welcoming community that honors and respects all people," Roberts said in a statement. "We appreciate the state wanting to find a solution to the challenges we are facing and applaud the governor for recognizing the state should overturn HB2, which the state can do at any time without any action from the City of Charlotte."
"We are not prepared to add this item to our agenda this evening, however, we urge the state to take action as soon as possible and encourage continued dialogue with the broader community," she continued.
House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican, said Roberts would not allow the Charlotte City Council to consider rescinding its ordinance at tonight's meeting.
"Rather than trying to seek a solution that would reset a contentious debate, Mayor Roberts and her allies, including Roy Cooper and special interest groups, have decided that they would rather play a game of politics than take steps toward a solution," Moore said. "It now seems clear that all along Mayor Roberts and Roy Cooper have been engaging in political theater to the detriment of the entire state, and this explains why they have refused to heed the calls to act from the business community and from people on all sides of the political spectrum."
The city's announcement came about an hour before organizers with Equality NC and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) were scheduled to ask the city council to stand their ground and keep the city's non discrimination protections for the LGBT community.
"Let's keep our eyes on the ball: HB2 is the problem. PayPal, the NCAA, and the ACC all left because of HB2," said executive director of Equality NC Chris Sgro.
"Mayor Jennifer Roberts didn't sign HB2. The NBA didn't sign HB2. Pat McCrory alone signed the bill that has cost us millions," Sgro said Sunday night. "Charlotte's ordinance is a competitive advantage for our business community and any economic developer will tell you as much. Stop wasting time and repeal [HB2]."
Chamber calls for 'reset' on legislation
The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce said Monday that it was disappointed "the Council has not acted in response to the call for action from legislative leaders."
"The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce embraces and promotes diversity, inclusiveness and equality as important values of our city. We oppose discrimination in all forms," the chamber said Monday. "We applaud and support the intentions of the Charlotte City Council to extend nondiscrimination protections to the LGBT community."
Sunday evening the Chamber, together with hospitality and tourism leaders, called for the city of Charlotte and state leaders to repeal the controversial legislations that has thrust the state into the national spotlight.
House Bill 2 had repeatedly been named the reason for the state losing high profile sports games, business expansions and concerts.
The joint call for action came days after a lobbyist group said it had been given assurances by Governor Pat McCrory that he would call a special session to repeal HB2 if the city of Charlotte repealed its non-discrimination ordinance and if there was enough support in the General Assembly to repeal the law.
"If the Charlotte City Council totally repeals the ordinance and then we can confirm there is support to repeal among the majority of state lawmakers in the House and Senate, the governor will call a special session," McCrory's communications director Josh Ellis said Friday.
Ellis said the Governor has been saying House Bill 2 was only needed if the Charlotte ordinance remained in place.
"We believe the solutions we have proposed would have allowed for both sides in this debate to remain true to their intentions and convictions, but would have recognized that the unintended consequences have created damage and harm that needs to be addressed," the Chamber continued."We continue to call on leaders at the city and state to act and specifically request that the North Carolina General Assembly move to repeal HB2 as quickly as possible."
Cooper calls for special session
Monday morning, Attorney General Roy Cooper - who is the Democratic candidate for governor, called on McCrory to call a special session of the General Assembly.
"The damage to our economy must be stopped and it is clear that full repeal of HB2 will accomplish this," Cooper said. "The Governor should call for a special session today. It's time for the Governor to be a leader, not a follower."
Senate Leader Phil Berger, a Republican, said Cooper and Roberts were "hasty" to dismiss a "reasonable proposal to rescind the Charlotte bathroom ordinance and the law that resulted from it"
"[It] makes me question if she and Roy Cooper are really serious about trying to find a solution, or if they would rather prolong this debate for political reasons – regardless of the impact on Charlotte and our state's business community," Berger continued. "If the Charlotte City Council doesn't trust the legislature will rescind HB2 once Charlotte repeals its bathroom ordinance, then it could simply pass a repeal of the bathroom ordinance that is only effective if the legislature repeals HB2."
'Cooper, Roberts again scuttled a compromise deal'
Monday morning the North Carolina Republican Party issued a statement from Party Chairman Robin Hayes saying Cooper and Roberts "again scuttled a compromise deal."
"Roy Cooper's silence on the Charlotte bathroom ordinance repeal deal confirms he was working with his ally Jennifer Roberts to kill any compromise all along," Hayes said Monday. "This is the second time Roy Cooper and Jennifer Roberts have blocked good-faith efforts to keep sporting events in North Carolina, and shows Roy Cooper is more interested in playing politics at the expense of hardworking North Carolinians than doing his job to help them."
"While the Governor and legislature have been willing to compromise to find a resolution, Roy Cooper and Jennifer Roberts have been following the orders of radical Washington, D.C. special interest groups who will not stop until they impose an extreme, politically-correct agenda on our state to allow men to use women's restrooms, showers and locker rooms," Hayes continued.
"By again blocking a compromise deal, it is clear that both Roy Cooper and Jennifer Roberts want to keep this issue alive to raise campaign cash and ultimately change the definition of gender in our country," he said
On the other side of the aisle, Kimberly Reynolds, the Executive Director for the North Carolina Democratic Party, said McCrory needs to "quit holding our economy hostage and repeal his disastrous law, HB2."
"The economic damage facing our state is being caused by HB2 – nothing else," Reynolds said. "Is the Governor going to threaten our entire economy every time he wants to pick a political fight with a local government? North Carolina just can't afford that."