Speaker Moore gauging interest in special session on Charlotte bathroom ordinance

Posted February 25, 2016
Updated February 26, 2016

— House Speaker Tim Moore has emailed members asking if they would be willing to return to Raleigh for a special session aimed at overturning Charlotte's new non-discrimination ordnance.

The Charlotte measure broadly defines how businesses must treat gay, lesbian and transgender customers, but as in other cities recently, the debate has focused on bathrooms. In particular, the ordinance would allow men and women who identify as something other than their birth gender to use the bathroom in which they are most comfortable.

Many conservatives have been outraged by the law. Gov. Pat McCrory has vowed he will seek legislative action to overturn it.

"While special sessions are costly, we cannot put a price tag on the safety of women and children," Moore wrote to members Wednesday.

Lawmakers are due to return to Raleigh on April 25, but the Charlotte ordinance goes into effect April 1. It costs roughly $42,000 a day to hold a special session.

"There is no way to test who is transgendered and who's not transgendered. So, what that does is it opens up the bathrooms and locker rooms to every man – or every woman on the other side," said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition.

Shawn Long, director of operations for LGBT advocacy group Equality NC, called Fitzgerald's statement "fear mongering," noting 250 cities across the U.S. have similar ordinances, including Columbia and Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.

"There have been zero incidents of any sort of a safety issue," Long said. "The real issues come into play when you have someone who lives and presents as a female and then they're told they have to use the men's restroom. That's a safety issue."

Three-fifths of the House – 72 of the 120 members – would have to agree to the special session, and it's unclear if Moore's caucus would support the bid. Several members interviewed Thursday and Friday expressed reluctance.

"I just got off the phone with the Values Coalition demanding we go into special session," Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, said Thursday.

Horn said he's not eager to return to Raleigh. While he describes himself as "personally outraged," he's unsure what lawmakers would do to curb the Charlotte measure.

"I'm just a guy who likes to do his homework before jumping into something new," he said.

Another Charlotte area lawmaker declined to speak on the record regarding the potential of returning to town, saying that the issue had become "a mess."

Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, said he was not eager to return to session.

"This seems to be a Charlotte issue, and I'm just not inclined to jump into it," McGrady said.

But Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, said cities don't have the authority to pass an ordinance like Charlotte's.

"The issue for the General Assembly is the broader issue of a local municipality deciding to regulate in areas of health and safety that are simply not in their purview," Dollar said, adding that he's open both to a special session or waiting until the regular session.

Fitzgerald has asked McCrory to call lawmakers back to get around the three-fifths approval requirement. The Governor's Office hasn't responded to WRAL News questions about her request.

She said she wants lawmakers to go beyond the transgender bathroom issue and overturn the entire Charlotte ordinance. It also bans discrimination against gays and lesbians in public accommodations, which she said violates the religious rights of business owners.

"We want the whole ordinance repealed. Anything less than that is going to be totally unacceptable to the people of this state," she said.

Long said Charlotte's voters and its business community support the ordinance, and trying to repeal it would be government overreach.

"It's just a net positive," he said of the ordinance. "There's no reason to get rid of it. You should be protecting all citizens, not trying to take rights away from a certain group of them."


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  • Fanny Chmelar Mar 1, 2016
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    Very, very shortsighted way to approach this. Facts over ignorance, please.

  • Craig Elliott Feb 27, 2016
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    Let Charlotte do what it wants- it can pay to defend it in court and it can deal with the consequences (or benefits) of it's decision.

  • Kathy Bundy Feb 27, 2016
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    This is a question being largely powered by fear of the unknown and low information. I would venture to guess that many of the people, including legislators, who are most opposed do not personally know anyone who is transgender. The scary monster in the closet can only stay scary as long as the lights are out. Transgender people are the ones who are most likely to be attacked or humiliated in public restrooms. Please educate yourself with statistics, articles and books, and most importantly, someone who has experienced this first hand.

  • Anne Havisham Feb 26, 2016
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    Imagine what the world would be like if this much attention were being paid to violence committed against cis women, trans women, trans men. and cis men by cis men.

    Have any of these people hollering about alleged violence by trans women and trans men ever taken a look at statistics?

  • David Goetze Feb 26, 2016
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    They delivered over 20,000 signed petitions to the City Council in Charlotte last Monday just before the vote and documented that the Council members had collectively received over 250,000 e-mails against the ordinance. When only 8 % of the voters turn out to elect liberals to those positions, it is hard to justify any statement that their actions represent all or even a majority of the citizens they represent.

  • Steven Reynolds Feb 26, 2016
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    Typical two faced GOP legislators. The government should stay out of people's lives unless they don't agree with what the people want.

  • Roy Pine Feb 26, 2016
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    What, are we going to have government monitors checking everyone's dangly bits at the bathroom door?

  • Tandy Dawgy Feb 26, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    Uh huh. Adjust the tinfoil hat.

  • Dan Wilder Feb 26, 2016
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    This may have a negative impact on some business's. Some that provide changing rooms and showers may suffer from the lack of attendance if customers know that opposite sex people will be allowed in the same dressing/shower rooms. I would think the vast majority of people would simply not use those facilities any longer.

  • Dale Xavier Feb 26, 2016
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    why is this man, Tim Moore, wearing seersucker in February? He needs to worry less about where the trans community urinates and more on his wardrobe.