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.
Turner 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