LGBT Community Tackles Non-Discrimination Ordinance in Public Forum

CHARLOTTE, NC — The city hired actors to act out and read comments from March’s Charlotte City Council meeting.

Not everyone was happy with the choice, but they said it gave the actors a chance to voice both sides on the issue.

Outside protesters held signs condemning the forum.

“You need Jesus. You don’t need this ordinance,” Ante Pavkivoc.

Inside: a different scene. “You were able to see ideas on different things,” says opponent Gary Holmes.

Where groups for and against changes to the non-discrimination ordinance spoke freely with each other.

“Some people, they were in view of if they had a small business, and how if they used, if their religious beliefs didn’t concur with the ordinance, they reject, they refuse to do it, they had enough protection,” says Holmes.

The current ordinance protects people from being discriminated against based on race, creed, religion and national origin, among other things. But they say it doesn’t protect sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity.

“Sexual orientation is covered under county hiring policy, but not covered under the non-discrimination ordinance for the city,” says Chad Turner.

Supporters would like to see new language added that would allow members of the LGBT community to take cabs and use public accommodations, like restaurants or restrooms, without discrimination.

Rights they say they deserve.

“Who I go to bed with, where I go to the bathroom, my gender identity, they’re all me. That’s not you. Don’t tell me who I can love!” says Erica Lachowitz.

But it’s the portion that says transgender men and women could use the restroom they identify with Mayor Roberts says may have kept City Council from passing the changes before.

The Mayor says educational forums like this one could sway voters on City Council to pass it.

“I think that there are people who are truly open to listening, whose minds will be changed. There are other people who maybe are not listening, who might change their minds later, and there may be some people who are firmly set in their beliefs, will always feel a certain way,” says Roberts.

The changes would also prevent discriminating against awarding contracts to LGBT workers or businesses, and expanding the committee that protects their Community.

City Council could vote on the issue as early as this month.