Opinion: On Ordinance Repeal, Charlotte Passes

City declines to self-flagellate as part of HB2 'compromise'
Matt Comer
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts announces Monday that the City Council has no plan to place a repeal of its non-discrimination ordinance on the agenda.

The state of North Carolina, with an assist from the Charlotte Chamber, has spent the last week or so vigorously trying to persuade the City of Charlotte to kick itself between the eyes. On Monday morning, Charlotte wisely, and with admirable restraint, declined.

“We appreciate the state wanting to find a solution to the challenges we are facing,” Mayor Jennifer Roberts said in a prepared statement, “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.” The mayor deserves applause, too, for such a decorously extended middle finger. I don’t know if I could maintain that level of cool toward people who’d publicly accused me of accessory to pedophilia, but I guess that’s why, as mayor, she makes the small bucks.

You have to stand back in awe and appreciate the degree of gall that members of the General Assembly have shown since the City Council passed its non-discrimination ordinance in February. First they passed a law that, it’s easy to forget, didn’t just nullify the Charlotte ordinance but barred any local government in the state from ever passing LGBT protections, while also prohibiting them from establishing discrimination and wage standards for private employees that supersede the state’s.

They then blamed Roberts and the City Council for making them do it. Then, when businesses began pulling out of their North Carolina commitments, they blamed Roberts and the City Council again and accused them of partnership with a pederast. They did the same after the NBA decided to relocate its All-Star Game, again last week when the NCAA and ACC withdrew their planned games in North Carolina. Every time, the corporate entity in question said very clearly that its decision was based on the discriminatory nature and effect of House Bill 2, not the Charlotte ordinance that prompted it. The NCAA in particular could not have been more explicit about this.

Didn’t matter. The legislature dangled the prospect of a possible repeal contingent on the City Council saying, in essence, “We didn’t mean it,” as if Charlotte was the guilty party here. (In an equally classy move Monday, the Governor’s Office asked the media for branding assistance.) Once it became clear that the city would be doing no such thing, state GOP Chairman and former Congressman Robin Hayes issued a statement accusing Roberts and Roy Cooper of conspiring to kill the “compromise” and “ultimately change the definition of gender in this country,” and Cooper of—my favorite accusation of the bunch—“playing politics.” This stance requires world-class denial or nerve, or some noxious combination, plus an utter failure to gauge how this all looks beyond the boundaries of the Tar Heel State.

Which is where Charlotte was focused all along. City officials have never tried to disguise why they wanted to adopt the non-discrimination ordinance. It wasn’t just a matter of doing the right thing. It was an effort to keep pace with the roster of major American cities. Of the top 20, 17 have some kind of LGBT protection in public facilities. Charlotte risked losing business if it didn’t follow suit—and would make the current economic catastrophe even worse if it walked back its commitment to LGBT inclusion.

It’s not hard to understand, and the reaction to HB2 pretty well proves Charlotte’s point. That’s why the guilty were trying so hard to induce the victim to confess to the crime. The victim wasn’t having it, and its response was the right one: There’s a clear way out of this mess, and the job of getting us out belongs to the people who got us stuck there in the first place.

Categories: The Buzz