Hillsborough and Carrboro unanimously approve LGBTQ protections

Hillsborough and Carrboro NC passed LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances, becoming the first and second municipalities in North Carolina to do so since HB2 was passed in 2016.

Hillsborough’s new town code (5-11.a) found on page 71, prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression in places of public accommodation and employment. Places of public accommodation is any establishment that provides a good or service, like a hotel or a restaurant.

Hillsborough’s ordinance does not address who can use multiple-occupancy public restrooms, showers, and changing rooms. According to House Bill 142, only the North Carolina General Assembly can rule on access to those places.

On April 14, 2017, the United States Department of Justice dropped its lawsuit against the state of North Carolina over House Bill 2, which was filed in 2016 by the Obama administration, because the North Carolina legislature had replaced House Bill 2 with House Bill 142. The Trump administration, while in power, did not offer any opposition to laws that discriminated against LGBT people.

When former Governor Pat McCrory signed HB2, the nation’s first statewide bathroom bill law he envisioned it to be the new GOP gold standard that would propel him to another term and possibly to the presidency,

Democrat Roy Cooper who at the time was North Carolina’s adjutant general defeated McCrory in a race to get the Governorship. But Gov. Cooper found the Republican legislature unwilling to fully repeal the discriminatory legislation.

As a compromise, the Legislature repealed much of HB2 but enacted HB142 prohibiting local municipalities from expanding protections to include LGBT people for three years.

NC Policy Watch reports that similar non-discrimination ordinances will be taken up this week by Carrboro and Chapel Hill later this week. A new ordinance is also expected in Durham later this month.

Opponents of LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances are already opposing them. Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, was on for the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners’ virtual meeting Tuesday night, arguing against the passage of Hillsborough’s new ordinance.

“Ordinances like the one you’re considering tonight undermine fairness and freedom,” Fitzgerald told the commissioners Tuesday, arguing they “advance discrimination against people of faith” by dictating how they do business with regard to LGBTQ people with no religious exemptions.

The new ordinances set up a potential fight with the North Carolina General Assembly, whose Republican majority has defended HB2 in the face of protests, lawsuits, and national boycotts that cost the state more than half a billion dollars. Lawmakers return to Raleigh for a new legislative session Wednesday, the first since the non-discrimination ordinance ban expired. It is not yet clear how the legislature may react, but Democratic lawmakers say Gov. Roy Cooper will veto any new assaults on non-discrimination ordinances and they have the votes to sustain his veto.

You might have thought North Carolina Republicans would have got the memo. From Circuit to the Supreme court have since affirmed trans people’s right to public accommodations.

In addition, the Supreme Court just ruled that transgender employees are covered under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The GOP cost the good people of North Carolina a billion dollars with their folly last time. With North Carolina reeling from the pandemic and President-elect Biden administration’s promise for inclusivity it would be futile to oppose transgender equality.

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