Charlotte mayor stalls potential repeal of H.B. 2

Jennifer Roberts does not add vote on Charlotte ordinance to Monday agenda

CHARLOTTE — As a funky version of elevator-like music played, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts walked into the room where the Charlotte City Council conducts business and heard a round of applause, as a few people commented that they had never heard that before and one reporter from the local paper saying with a laugh, “Maybe they have their own pump-up song.”Minutes before, Roberts was outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center where she held a press conference to read from a prepared statement that the Charlotte City Council would not add a vote to Monday’s agenda to repeal their ordinance that prompted North Carolina’s Republicans to enact the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, known as H.B. 2.”The City of Charlotte continues our commitment to be a welcoming community that honors and respects all people. We appreciate the state wanting to find a solution to the challenges that we are facing,” said Roberts, as she read from a prepared statement in front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center with about 15 LGBT supporters and activists grouped behind her.”We applaud the governor for recognizing that the state needs to overturn H.B. 2, which the state can do at any time, without any action from the city of Charlotte,” she added. “We are not prepared to add this item to our City Council agenda this evening. However, we urge the state to take action, as soon as possible, and we encourage continued dialogue with our broader community.”Inside now, and listening to the applause from supporters, Roberts acknowledged them by smiling and saying, “Y’all are awesome.” Someone from the crowd replied, “You are awesome.” Roberts smiled again and said, “Well, that was very nice.” Minutes later she reiterated what she said outside, “As you have probably heard in the news, we had a request for an item for our agenda this evening, which will not be on our agenda. We are not going to consider a repeal of the Charlotte ordinance on nondiscrimination at this evening’s meeting.” After applause from her supporters, she said no one would be allowed to speak for or against it because they didn’t include it on the agenda.Outside the meeting, though, supporters and activists were able to speak.Grant Luckey, 33, a Charlotte caterer, said he showed up even though he knew there wouldn’t be a discussion. “I still felt it was important to show up,” Luckey said. “I own a business in Charlotte and it’s a catering company. When these huge events are canceled, it affects my business. And of course it feels oppressive being a part of the LGBT community to have a law like this anyway. I just felt it was important to go either way. “I’m glad that they decided to do nothing tonight, because really, to me, Charlotte was shining a beacon of light, saying we’re being progressive, we’re moving forward. This is where the country is going anyway, so to go back and to have [Gov. Pat McCrory] sign that bill and rush it through the House so quickly without it really being vetted, you know it’s wrong, and when you see sports team canceling, which I find that shocking, because I think it’s such a macho thing, and here they are like standing up and saying we’re not going to tolerate this, we want to be open and inclusive. That’s a pretty clear message, I feel like, so that’s why I’m here tonight.” Progress NC Action Communications Director for Western North Carolina Luis Rodriguez said, “I showed up to show support. I know a lot of the City Council. I know Jennifer Roberts. I wanted to show that the people are behind their decision. That they have the support of a lot of community activists, a lot of people who are very active in their local communities, as well at the city level, and that we are paying attention, and that if they back down, there’s going to be ramifications for that as well.” The Charlotte Chamber, however, took different tone. “We applaud and support the intentions of the Charlotte City Council to extend nondiscrimination protections to the LGBT community,” the statement read. “But are disappointed that the Council has not acted in response to the call for action from legislative leaders.”McCrory, who has a lead over his Democratic challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper in a recent Elon poll, said he was ready to call a special session of the General Assembly to repeal H.B. 2 had the Charlotte City Council repealed its ordinance.