CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46) — Members of the LGBTQ+ community, Charlotte Black Pride, and the Mecklenburg County Young Republicans all gathered at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center Monday night to express their support for the adoption of a nondiscrimination ordinance.
All while the Charlotte City Council met for a strategy session to discuss the potential new law. A vote is expected next week.
It took Democratic members on the City Council over a year to finally draft the ordinance, yet Republican Councilman, Tariq Bokhari, worked with the Mecklenburg County Young Republicans and drafted one last June. Bokhari said the Republican’s ordinance covers more grounding protecting vulnerable populations from discrimination.
“We stepped up as Republicans wanting to be proactive, and since we aren’t normally invited to the table to have discussions like this,” Bokhari said.
In addition to the protections for the LGBTQ community, both ordinances also protect people with natural hairstyles and make them a more protected class in the same vein as race, ethnicity, disability, and more.
Kyle Luebke, a member of the LGBTQ community as well as the Treasurer of the Meck County Young Republicans, said there are four main differences between the two ordinances. According to a statement from the Republicans, the following are the differences between the Democratic ordinance and the Republican ordinance:
- Employment: the Democratic proposal only expands employment protections to those employers who have less than 15 employees. The Republican proposal ensures their protection from discrimination by protecting those individuals regardless of the size of the employer.
- Housing: the Democratic proposal does not extend housing protections to LGBTQ+ people and individuals with natural hair. The Republican proposal recognizes that public accommodation protections and employment protections are just one piece of the puzzle, and that we *must* ensure that individuals can find housing in our city without discrimination.
- Religious Freedom: As it relates to religious liberty, the Democratic proposal isn’t specific as to how religious institutions, organizations, and non-profits are required to comply with the requirements of this ordinance, providing instead a brief throwaway line as it relates to the first amendment.
- Political Activities: The republican’s newest version of the nondiscrimination ordinance builds upon provisions already contained in the Republican proposal. They are now ensuring that political affiliation is a protected class as well as protecting an employee engaged in lawful political activity.
“We’ve had since December 1 of last year for city council that is controlled by the Democratic Party nine to two with the Democratic Mayor to address this, it is August of 2021, a full eight months after they had the opportunity to do that, and they’re just now getting around to it,” Luebke said.
Quinn Williams, a member of Charlotte Black Pride, grew up in Charlotte and reflected on the times when the Queen City wasn’t so accepting of people like her.
“I came from a black fire and brimstone Southern Baptist Christian home, okay, baby, I held a lot in,” Quinn said.
Quinn came out to her family and friends at age 15.
“When I first came out to my family, I was basically taught, I had to pray the gay away.”
She now proudly explained she is a pansexual, cisgender woman, and after years of suppressing who she is, finally feels like she can be herself. But the laws protecting Quinn from discrimination haven’t always been there, and in some cases still aren’t.
“Imagine just letting your hair grow naturally and going somewhere in there saying that’s not acceptable. That’s too ethnic. I’ve been told that before. I’ve been told that my look was too ethnic and I needed to tone it down,” continued Quinn, “this ordinance coming together would just give us a little bit of leverage. I feel like it won’t solve every issue but it is just the beginning.”