Earlier this week, under cover of night, and less than 48 hours away from the close of the nine month legislative session, members of the General Assembly attempted—once again—to sanction discrimination against LGBT North Carolinians. A provision negotiated in secret by a group of appointed House and Senate members was inserted into SB 279, an unrelated bill on licensing requirements for counselors, and would have stripped local governments of their ability to pass ordinances protecting LGBT residents from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. In the waning hours of the legislative session, the ACLU and our allies worked tirelessly to educate both members of the General Assembly and the public about the devastating discriminatory consequences of such a law. A broad coalition that included civil rights groups, faith leaders, and local governments came together to stand up and fight—and today, we’re proud to tell you that we won!
The discriminatory provision was removed from the bill just after midnight last night sending the message loud and clear that the General Assembly has no business interfering in local decisions to enact anti-discrimination policies. To date, many communities across North Carolina—including Buncombe, Durham, Mecklenburg, and Wake counties, and the cities of Asheville, Boone, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Charlotte, High Point and Raleigh—have passed ordinances protecting LGBT residents from discrimination, with popular local support. Wake County is the newest addition to this list, having just amended its employee non-discrimination provisions to include LGBT protections earlier this month. We supported that effort, and will continue to support local efforts while pushing for statewide protections as well.
We must all remain vigilant in the face of any future attempts to codify intolerance, but today, we hope you join us in celebrating this victory!