Under pressure, Charlotte mayor takes H.B. 2 deal off the table for Mondays meeting

Charlotte City Council(l to r): Council members Al Austin

RALEIGH — Charlotte’s mayor Jennifer Roberts says that the city council will not take action tonight to repeal the ordinance that triggered the H.B. 2 controversy.”We are not prepared to add this item to our agenda this evening, however, we urge the state to take action as soon as possible and encourage continued dialogue with the broader community,” said Roberts in a prepared statement.The announcement comes despite leadership from the N.C. General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory announcing that they are willing to call a special session to repeal H.B. 2, if Charlotte City Council repeals their ordinance. Charlotte’s ordinance, passed in February at the urging of the city’s mayor, Jennifer Roberts, made it unlawful to have any differentiation between sexes in public restrooms and changing facilities in the city. “If the Charlotte City Council had not passed its ordinance in the first place, the North Carolina General Assembly would not have called itself back into session to pass H.B. 2 in response,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) In a joint statement issued Sunday night. “Consequently, although our respective caucuses have not met or taken an official position, we believe that if the Charlotte City Council rescinds its ordinance there would be support in our caucuses to return state law to where it was pre-H.B. 2.” The N.C. House Republican Caucus is scheduled to meet Monday at 1 p.m, with the Charlotte City Council scheduled to meet Monday at 5 p.m. but only zoning issues are on the agenda.With the gubernatorial election just two months away, over the weekend Lamda Legal and the ACLU stepped up the pressure on the mayor and Charlotte city council members, issuing a blistering statement pressuring them not to support repeal of the Charlotte ordinance.”It is absurd, dishonest and wrong to blame the damage caused by H.B. 2 on a Charlotte ordinance that protects LGBT people from discrimination and is similar to laws in 18 states and more than 200 municipalities,” Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina. “North Carolina’s leaders need to stop blaming others, take responsibility for the disaster that is H.B. 2 and repeal the entire discriminatory law without delay. We urge the Charlotte City Council to stand firm on its commitment to protecting the LGBT community from discrimination by leaving its ordinance intact.”Gov. Pat McCrory’s office announced Friday that he is willing to call the N.C. General Assembly back into a special session if the Charlotte City Council repeals its ordinance. “For the last nine months, the governor has consistently said state legislation is only needed if the Charlotte ordinance remains in place. If the Charlotte City Council totally repeals the ordinance and then we can confirm there is support to repeal among the majority of state lawmakers in the House and Senate, the governor will call a special session. It is the governor’s understanding that legislative leaders and the lieutenant governor agree with that assessment,” said Josh Ellis, communications director for McCrory. Several versions of a compromise deal have been in the works, some offered by lawmakers, others by lobbyists — including the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association, who said they are working to stem what they say is collateral damage to the tourism industry in the wake of the law. Last week that the Atlantic Coast Conference followed the NCAA in announcing it would move 10 college sports championships from North Carolina in protest of the controversial House Bill 2 law. Their decision followed the NCAA’s announcement it would relocate seven championship sporting events. The decision sparked outrage and accusations of playing politics ahead of the November gubernatorial election.