Reader opinion: Charlotte residents, I hope you all are as furious as I am


Editor’s note: Chris Turner emailed us the following letter following Charlotte City Council’s decision to repeal its LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance and after Gov. Pat McCrory in turn called for a special session Wednesday to repeal House Bill 2. His letter has been minimally edited for clarity.

To my fellow Charlotte city residents – the LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance is gone and, as promised by the governor months ago and again Monday, House Bill 2 is soon to follow. I hope you all are as furious as I am.

Let me be clear. I am not a proponent of HB2, never have been. I believe it went too far and caused pain across many different communities in Charlotte and North Carolina. The state could’ve simply overturned the ordinance through legislative action without adding any of the additional items that were included in HB2.

That said, Monday’s actions by the City Council, led and orchestrated by Mayor Jennifer Roberts, clearly prove that after HB2 was passed the ordinance was used solely as a political weapon with no regard for the positive or negative impact it would have on our community.

I asked Mayor Roberts a month before the election would she overturn the ordinance if the N.C. General Assembly gave assurances that they would overturn HB2. She said that she could not because it would be akin to taking away citizens’ rights. She has, in fact, done the exact thing she said she couldn’t do by overturning the ordinance (in a 10-0 vote, no less). Logically speaking, this means that she either does not care about those same rights once elections are over or she didn’t want to compromise until the maximum amount of political damage was inflicted on the opposite party.

The governor and the NCGA did, in fact, offer this compromise prior to the election and she refused to bring the request up for consideration to the City Council. Why then did she accept the same exact compromise after the election but not before it? Why did she not work towards this compromise days after PayPal pulled its plans to move to Charlotte so as to resolve the conflict with as little damage to our city’s reputation, brand and economic growth as possible? The reason is because the LGBT community and all Charlotte citizens were being used as pawns in order to inflict political damage on the opposite party without any consideration for the harm it brought to all of us.

It worked. The governor who signed HB2 has been voted out of office in part due to that bill. And now, that governor who called for compromise early and who has nothing to politically gain by repeal of HB2 is honoring those same assurances by calling a special session on Wednesday to repeal the NCGA bill.

For those who pointed to HB2 as the reason why we have lost hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars, you can no longer blame that just on the state legislature. You must now attribute at least half (or more since a compromise was proposed) to Mayor Roberts and the City Council. We potentially could have kept the NBA All-Star Game, the ACC Championship, hundreds of jobs and millions in tourism dollars had this same exact compromise been made before the election.

To my friends in the LGBT community, I continue to be an ally of equality for all citizens. I believe we must come together to find ways to defeat discrimination at every corner and I hope we can work together to accomplish that. Your community and mine – our community – has been duped into believing that our mayor has ANY of our best interests at heart. After all the harm to our city and state, none of us are better off. Regarding civil rights, we are right back to where we were pre-ordinance. Regarding brand and reputation, who knows how far back our city has been pushed.

Monday’s action proved that Mayor Roberts only has her interests and those of her inner circle at heart. Her motives have never been clearer. She has gone one step beyond being an ineffective leader. Our city was used as a political pawn and direct damage has been inflicted upon us. She has proven herself undeserving to serve as our mayor and I plan to work as hard as I can in 2017 to make sure she is not afforded that same opportunity again. I hope to make many friends from all across our great city in that effort.

lem_lynch_05Turner is active in young professional, civic and economic development organizations across the city and is also active in the Republican Party in Charlotte.

Photo: Davie Hinshaw/Charlotte Observer


  1. I have mixed feelings about this.
    On the one hand, it appears, on the surface, that Jennifer Roberts used this whole issue as a political tool — a way to create an issue where there previously had been none, with the sole purpose of driving Pat McCrory out of the governor’s mansion.
    The last part is why I am mixed — McCrory is, indeed, out of the governor’s mansion, and good riddance to him.
    Beyond that: devious, purely partisan tactics have become a staple of the GOP. And the GOP is very, very good at it.
    So I just don’t have all this righteous indignation when a Democrat serves the other side some of its own medicine.
    Politics is ugly business, and the Dems can either learn how to battle Republicans on their own terms or keep losing elections.

  2. This is obviously bias against the Democrats, as shown by the footnote “…is also active in the Republican Party in Charlotte”. The ordinance had good intentions, to protect LGBT+ people, and put us up there with other large cities who already have LGBT-protection ordinances. Who passed and signed HB2? Republicans.

    The pain from, and blame for, HB2 is solely on Republicans. They did not have to pass HB2. The NCGA could have easily repealed HB2, if they wanted; but expecting a tight Gubernatorial election, they did not want to look weak in the eyes of conservative voters, and were hoping McCrory would be re-elected so would not have to do anything regarding HB2. Now that there is Democratic Governor-elect, and a special election next year, the NCGA realised that there would be an even bigger fight- so both sides re-sat down to move the State forward. There must also be some hidden workings that have spurred on this action to repeal the ordinance and HB2, because neither side would give up that easily.

    P.S. I don’t think Mayor Roberts has been an as effective leader as she could have been. Therefore I am hoping that Vi Lyles will win the primary, because is she does not then we will have a closer fight for Mayor than there usually is.

  3. This post is obviously biased towards Democrats, as shown by the footnote “is also active in the Republican Party in Charlotte.”

    HB2 is the sole responsibility of the Republicans in the General Assembly, they rushed the bill through, and got it to McCrory’s desk faster than you could say “House Bill Two”. Mayor Roberts campaigned partially on the LGBT ordinance, and if the citizens of Charlotte did not want it, they would not have voted for her. The Mayor and City Council had good intentions passing the non-discrimination ordinance, it wasn’t about trying to get McCrory out of the Executive Mansion, it was about protecting one of the most disenfranchised groups in society. Republicans have spun it into an issue that Democrats orchestrated the ordinance and HB2 as an election tool, which on the surface it does. The ordinance would have just put Charlotte among other big cities with an LGBT non-discrimination protection, where they have been no issues with it.

    Republicans did not have to pass HB2, and could have easily repealed it if they wanted to. Knowing they were facing a tough Gubernatorial election, they did not want to look weak in the eyes of conservative votes, and my guess is that they were hoping that McCrory would be reelected so they did not have to act on HB2. But noting there is now a Democratic Governor-elect, a special election next year, and the fact that North Carolinians do not like HB2, they realised they would have a steep uphill battle. Our City did not back down, because it was the right thing to do; the NCGA is not trust-worthy, but the new Democratic Governor has added this layer of reassurance for the Council. There is probably some behind-the-scenes working going on here, as neither side would give up that easily.

    P.S. I agree that Mayor Roberts is not an as effective leader as she could have been, therefore I am hoping that Vi Lyles wins the primary, or there will be a closer race for Mayor than usual.

  4. Angry? Yes, but not for reasons outlined here, which all have to do with money and brute power, but nothing to with basic civil rights for ALL. I don’t think anyone still “active in the Republican Party” understand the difference.
    At one time, in a kinder, gentler era, I worked for a Republican member of Congress — one who was reelected repeatedly because he both ran and served as “Everybody’s Congressman.” Some of his most devoted supporters were Democrats, and some were independent. He counted them ass as friends. But that was the “dearly departed” Republican Party –before Rush and Newt and now the alt right and Trump.
    I have not and will not EVER vote for another modern day “Republican”– which now is a party of hate, greed, voter suppression, and steamroller legislative tactics. Its infrastructure is constructed on a foundation of faux aggrievement and entitlement, forged by the searing heat of talk radio, fake news and dark-hearted xenophobia, and fueled by the dark money mill made possible since Citzens United.
    This entire HB 2 controversy began out of human empathy for a little-recognized, little-understood minority and the principle of human rights for all. Mayor Roberts deserves credit for that.
    Was the timing “right?” Had the public been adequately prepared with education and intelligent debate? No. Mayor Roberts must at least share responsibility for that as well.
    But Raleigh Republicans were the ones to see political opportunity in Charlotte’s decision to do what was right for Charlotte. Raleigh Republicans were the ones to fear-monger the issue, create legislation to deny the city the right to be a beacon of progress and empathy, and then they loaded that bill with a variety of other unrelated restrictions and disenfranchisements, rammed it through the legislative process in a dark and oppressive way, and Pat McCrory jumped aboard with craven alacrity, with no thought to the people being oppressed.
    So, yes: I am angry, but not for the reasons Chris Turner cites. I am angry that Charlotte has been put through this entire battle between municipal rights and state oppression because Republicans were willing to play power games with the lives of the tiny minority of young people whose gender identification does not match their physicality at birth.
    Like many Charlotteans, I do not have to be transgender to empathize with transgender citizens, any more than I must be black to feel black lives matter and black votes should not be suppressed, nor must I be Latino to empathize with Dreamers, nor unemployed to empathize with those displaced by profound shifts in the job market wrought by global trade and high-tech revolution.
    I do not have to be a Ph.D. to feel facts matter, nor a journalist to argue that the public has a right to watch its government at work, nor a protestor to know when the First Amendment right to free speech has been trampled repeatedly in Raleigh of late.
    I do not have to be any of these things to be angry at what has happened to Charlotte and to NC in 2016.
    I just have to be human, and willing to empathize with others not as fortunate as I.

  5. Of course we are angry, but not because the imprecise and unreliable deals McCrory offered were rejected. Had the NCGA offered a concrete plan or McCrory been in any way reliable, who knows what the council might have done. Had they repealed then it would have been the wrong move then too, as HB2 is the NCGOP’s albatross. Once redistricting happens they should all pay for it.

  6. If I knew nothing else about North Carolina politics, I might agree with the author.

    Unfortunately, based on what I’ve learned about my new home state over the past 12 months, I can’t muster any outrage. North Carolina politics are where ethics and decency go to die, where no behavior is too petty or too venal, and where extremism in defense of [your tribe] is not only accepted, it is required.

    Hopefully, the author has some Kleenex nearby, to wipe away those crocodile tears.

  7. Not sure why I’m replying to this drival but I have some time to waste. Sounds like Chris Turner is digging for a reason to find fault with Mayor Roberts. Sowing seeds of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) which the Republicans do better than any. By not compromising before the election Mayor Roberts helped keep McCrory from being re-elected; a higher priority than repealing HB2 or the LGBT non-discrimination ordinance. Having McCrory out of office and now HB2 repealed now re-sets the playing field. Was Charlotte damaged as a result of Mayor Roberts not compromising sooner? Maybe, but it risked suffering much more had she compromised sooner and the Republicans been able to influence voters to keep McCrory in office.

    Charlotte isn’t really much worst off than it was before all of this. Much of what was lost was “potential” revenue, jobs, and opportunities. Challenges like this aren’t overcome easily or neatly. Sometimes we have to be willing to cope with the slow pace of change. In hindsight, I don’t believe the LGBT community was discriminated against any more than they had been before the LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance was first pass and overturned. This entire ordeal has certainly exposed many more people to the truth of how the LGBT community is discriminated against. So, instead, Charlotte simply isn’t as good as it could have been.

    With Cooper in office, Charlotte may now be able to pass a new ordinance that won’t be challenged. Though, lets all stop talking about it as a “bathroom bill” rather than what it truly should be meant as; equal protection from discrimination in the workplace (hiring, promotion, pay, wrongful termination), fair housing, health care, marriage rights, etc., etc.; all the things the rest of us take for granted.

    Mayor Roberts certainly should be held accountable for the consequences of what the Republican controlled NC State General Assembly does.

  8. That should be, “Mayor Roberts certainly should NOT be held accountable for the consequences of what the Republican controlled NC State General Assembly does.”

  9. I think it’s blatantly biased of the commenters who are bashing the author not for what he has said (which is purely steeped in fact) but simply because he’s a member of the Republican Party. That’s the kind of nonsense that keeps Democrats from sticking in office once they get elected. Try and bridge things together and think in a partisan manner once in awhile.

  10. Was it political hardball, of course. Grow up, that is (unfortunately) how things get done in politics.
    For all the righteous anger, the fact is that is is ONLY because Gov. McCrory lost the election that the City Council could rescind their non discrimination ordinance. Read the details of the correspondence the Gov. had and he as pressured and put in a situation where he had to accept HB2 and not veto it after it was passed, or the powerful republicans and ‘Church’ leaders would withdraw all support for his reelection. If the city had rescinded their ordinance, these same power-brokers in the GOP would have never allowed HB2 to be removed.
    Now, once we have a new, and Democratic, Governor elected, the power has shifted. The GOP retains control of the Legislature, so the City could rescind the ordinance, and put the burden back on the GOP. McCrory, to his credit, appears to be keeping his word AND he has nothing to lose from it by throwing it back in the GOP’s lap.
    I truly believe if the GOP had also lost the Legislature the City would not have taken this action, but instead a straight-up repeal of HB2 would have occurred.
    Regardless, a stumbling step towards freedom, but like the old saying goes, you don’t always want to watch the sausage being made.

  11. I really don’t think the citizens of North Carolina want the state turned into another California or New York.
    HB2 had little to do with McCroys loss. He lost because he was pushing Toll Booths for I-77 and turned his back on North Carolina’s commercial fishermen. As more conservatives move out of California and New York and come to North Carolina, You can bet North Carolina will be a conservative state for decades to come.

  12. Since when have the Donks EVER cared about anything but themselves? This is just another example of a pathetic and out of touch party that has imploded on itself. The left is now on the ash heap of history and crap like this made it happen. Way to go, Donks! You’ve nailed yourselves into your boxes with all your hate. Good riddance!


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