State News

The Latest: Charlotte's mayor stands up to GOP, is cheered

Posted 6:01 p.m. Monday
Updated 6:06 p.m. Monday

— The Latest on the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, declining for now to consider the repealing a city ordinance expanding anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people (all times EDT):

5:50 p.m.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts got a loud ovation when she walked into the city council chambers for Monday night's zoning meeting. Supporters are pleased with her response to Republican calls to repeal the city's ordinance that would enable LGBT people to seek protection from discrimination in hotels, restaurants and restrooms.

Some are holding signs calling for the repeal of North Carolina's HB2, which has kept the ordinance from taking effect and forbid any other local government from passing similar rules.

Roberts, a Democrat, was cheered again when she was introduced along with the rest of the council, and then again when she announced that she and the council would not discuss repealing the ordinance at the zoning meeting. She thanked supporters for turning out, but said they would not have an opportunity to speak.

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3:15 p.m.

A North Carolina legislative leader says he questions whether the mayor of Charlotte wants to solve the state's conflicts over gay rights and discrimination laws, given her response Monday to his offer to make a deal leading to the repeal of both the city's expanded protections and the state law blocking such protections for LGBT people.

Republican Senate leader Phil Berger commented after Mayor Jennifer Roberts said the city council won't consider rescinding the ordinance at its Monday zoning meeting.

Berger, the House speaker and Gov. Pat McCrory have offered to call a special legislative session to consider eliminating the state law if the city first repeals its ordinance. H.B. 2 blocked Charlotte's pro-LGBT protections and similar rules other local governments would consider passing.

Some gay-rights activists have said GOP lawmakers can't be trusted. Berger suggested that if so, the city council could make its repeal of the ordinance effective only if H.B. 2 is rescinded.

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1:15 p.m.

A new poll says more of North Carolina's likely voters this fall oppose a law limiting anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people than support it, and a strong majority think House Bill 2 has hurt the state.

An Elon University Poll released Monday found nearly 50 percent of those surveyed last week opposed HB2, compared to almost 40 percent who support it. The rest didn't know or were undecided.

Close to 60 percent said the law has damaged North Carolina's reputation, compared to 11 percent who believe the law has improved it. The law has prompted entertainers and sports associations including the NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference to cancel events in the state,

The poll also found that women and blacks oppose House Bill 2 more than men and whites.

The Elon poll of 644 likely voters has a margin of sampling error of 3.9 percentage points.

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1:10 p.m.

North Carolina's only openly gay lawmaker is criticizing state Republican leaders for pressuring the city of Charlotte to back down from its efforts to protect LGBT people.

Chris Sgro is executive director of Equality North Carolina and is filling out the term of a state representative who died in office. He blames the Republican governor and House and Senate leaders for "losing one of our grand traditions in college basketball," a reference to last week's decision by the NCAA to pull its championships out of the state.

He says that 180 days later, "the architects of this disaster" should "step up, admit their mistake and provide the leadership necessary to repeal HB2."

Instead, he says these lawmakers are focused on another number: "They are seeing 50 days until an election."

Sgro said he's proud that Charlotte's mayor is standing up for the city's values of diversity and inclusion.

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12:20 p.m.

Charlotte city leaders and proponents of LGBT rights held a news conference outside the government center to make another call on the N.C. General Assembly to repeal legislation limiting protections for the gay community.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts says she applauds Gov. Pat McCrory for recognizing the need to repeal HB2, which she said the state could do at any time without action from her city council. But Roberts reiterated an earlier statement saying the city council was not prepared to add the issue of repealing the city ordinance on Monday's agenda.

The state law was passed in March in response to Charlotte's ordinance expanding anti-discrimination protections.

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12:00 p.m.

North Carolina Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Pat McCrory have offered a deal to Charlotte: we'll consider rescinding a state law limiting LGBT anti-discrimination protections, but you must first repeal the city ordinance that led to House Bill 2.

Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts' response basically amounts to "no, you move first."

In a statement Monday, she notes Republicans don't need Charlotte to withdraw its local protections covering sexual orientation and gender identity before repealing the state law that has cost North Carolina major sporting events. Meanwhile, she said the city council won't address the issue at its meeting Monday evening.

Before Charlotte's ordinance could take effect last spring, Republicans held a special session to block all local governments from passing similar rules, and to limit bathroom options for transgender people.

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