Christian organizations and clergy across North Carolina are concerned about a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance to be voted on by the Charlotte City Council, February 23. The ordinance would require businesses that work for the city and any “public accommodation” to abide by a non-discrimination policy which includes “marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression.”
“Public accommodation” refers to restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, public schools, public gymnasiums, private schools, and day care centers. It essentially means any establishment serving the public.
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, cautions, “The proposed ordinance in Charlotte would force every business that provides its services to the public and every business that contracts with the City of Charlotte to have this policy even if adopting one would violate their freedom of conscience and religion.”
“Ordinances of this nature are promoted by various pro-gay rights organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and Equality N.C.,” said Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “They are a serious danger to religious liberty. Their supporters will argue such policies do nothing to diminish religious freedom. But their idea of religious freedom is that you can believe whatever you want, you can worship in private or in your church whatever way you choose, but you can’t practice the tenants of your faith in public except in those ways authorized by the state. This is a clear violation of the principle articulated by the founders in the First Amendment.”
The ordinance would also apply to the city’s public restrooms. Dave Kistler, president of the North Carolina Pastors Network, said, “In other words, an individual claiming a sexual identity different than that which they were born would be allowed, by law, to use the restroom of the opposite gender. Obviously, this is more than dangerous and must be stopped.”
Fitzgerald said this is why these ordinances are commonly referred to as “bathroom ordinances.” “By passing this ordinance, the Charlotte city council will put women and children in danger,” she said.
Council member Ed Driggs (R) argued that the proposed ordinance could put children in danger, also. He said it could be used as a “cover” for sexual predators to go in a bathroom opposite of their gender and stalk little girls. “A lot of people worry that you might provide cover for bad actors,” said Driggs. He added that his statements were not aimed “toward people with legitimate gender identity issues.”
Councilman Michael Barnes (D) also raised concerns, saying, “If I send one of my daughters into a public bathroom, and I see a man going into that bathroom, I am going to have some concern.”
According to a report in The Charlotte Observer, councilman Kenny Smith (R) asked the council to remove provisions regarding transgender people. He also expressed concern about the bathroom issue in part because of his children.
Smith made a motion to remove the vote from the Feb. 23 agenda. His vote was defeated 7-4.
Similar laws forced Christian business owners Aaron and Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, to close their business in 2013 because they refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. They argued they could not comply with the request because of their religious objections to same-sex marriage. But the Gresham, Ore. couple was found guilty of discrimination and ordered to pay a $150,000 fine to the lesbian couple.
In an email alert, Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church of Charlotte noted the proposed “Bathroom Bill” is also like the one supported by the city council and lesbian mayor of Houston, Texas. The measure caused an uproar when the mayor called for the sermon transcripts of several key pastors in the city to be subpoenaed, because of their opposition to the city council’s actions. “Now, the same agenda comes to our own Charlotte, N.C.” said Harris.
Fitzgerald said it’s critical this proposed policy be stopped in Charlotte. Its proponents are planning to take it to every major city in the Tar Heel state, she added.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This story first appeared at ChristianActionLeague.org (CAL) and is used by permission. K. Allan Blume contributed to this story. The CAL website provides contact information for Charlotte’s mayor and city council members.)
UPDATE: The Biblical Recorder has learned that the Charlotte City Council has moved the council meeting to Monday, March 2 at 6 p.m.