Mecklenburg County passes new non-discrimination resolution, future ordinances in Charlotte and other towns less certain

Board of commissioners passes non-discrimination resolution

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - In a unanimous vote, Mecklenburg County Commissioners passed a new non-discrimination resolution, sending the message that people of all genders, races and sexual orientations are welcome to build a life in the county.

“For me, this was a little bit personal in that I have a brother who is LGBTQ,” Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell said.

Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell led the charge on getting the resolution adopted adopted and spoke with WBTV after it passed.

“Through my relationship with him and my love for him, it’s become a really important issue to me and to my family,” Rodriguez-McDowell said.

Despite the unanimous vote there’s still opposition, with commissioners saying they received a barrage of emails Tuesday against the resolution.

“I do hear that fear and I think it’s a result of misinformation and I think it’s that’s where we have to stand up as leaders,” Rodriguez-McDowell said.

The history of this kind of legislation in North Carolina is contentious. In 2016, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts helped champion a non-discrimination ordinance that lead to Republican lawmakers in Raleigh passing HB-2, the bathroom bill. It prevented local municipalities from passing non-discrimination ordinances.

The backlash to the bill was swift, most notably with the NBA withdrawing the All-Star game from Charlotte.

After the bill was repealed, local governments couldn’t pass their own non-discrimination legislation until now.

“This was us declaring what is what we believe is right for Mecklenburg County, and we just hope that our partners will join us in that,” Rodriguez-McDowell said.

But the resolution is little more than a recommendation. While Commissioner Leigh Altman directed the county attorney to investigate turning the resolution into an ordinance, Rodriguez-McDowell says Charlotte and local towns will have to pass their own non-discrimination legislation to make a bigger impact that’s actually enforceable.

“I still think it’s important to do and this resolution, in my mind, it felt like a leadership step to ask our municipalities to create those ordinances that they have the ability to create,” Rodriguez-McDowell said.

Other towns such as Hillsborough and Carrboro have passed new non-discrimination ordinances.

In October, WBTV reported that Mayor Lyles was leading a group of North Carolina mayors looking into passing new non-discrimination ordinances.

However, sources tell WBTV that effort may be sidelined as Charlotte leaders look to Republicans in Raleigh to pass a one cent sales tax increase to fund a mobility plan that would cost billions.

WBTV reached out to a spokesperson for Mayor Vi Lyles to see if the city is still pursuing a non-discrimination ordinance. No response was provided by deadline for this story.

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