RALEIGH, NC (AP) – The North Carolina General Assembly will reconvene Wednesday to take up legislation that would attempt to override Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which also addresses transgender people and restrooms, legislative leaders announced Monday night.
Social conservatives and many Republican lawmakers say Charlotte went too far with the ordinance, which was approved last month but takes effect April 1. In particular, they’re upset because it allows transgender people to use restrooms that align with their gender identity, and they say sexual predators will use it as pretense to enter women’s bathrooms.
House Speaker Tim Moore and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, the Senate’s presiding officer, said they have obtained formal support from three-fifths of the lawmakers in both the House and Senate that the state constitution requires for the legislature to reconvene itself. Otherwise, their next regular session was set for April 25.
“We aim to repeal this ordinance before it goes into effect to provide for the privacy and protection of the women and children of our state,” Forest and Moore said in a release. Moore told House colleagues in a separate email to plan for the session at 10 a.m. Each day the General Assembly meets in session costs the state $42,000.
Legislative leaders have said they would like to pass legislation that would pre-empt other local governments from passing similar rules in the future.
Gay-rights groups want the ordinance preserved, saying it provides dignity and protection to transgender people often subject to intimidation. The ordinance is otherwise designed to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression at hotels, restaurants and other public accommodations.
Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican who has also criticized the ordinance, would be asked to sign any bill coming to his desk. He has said he would support legislation addressing the Charlotte ordinance.
Chris Sgro with Equality North Carolina called the decision to convene an “act of political theatre” and said that more than 200 cities have similar protections like Charlotte.
“In none of these cities have these protections created a public safety risk, to indicate otherwise is a lie,” Sgro said in an email, adding that McCrory “must stand up and be what we expect from an executive and reject any legislation that comes out of this special session.”
In an email to General Assembly members late Monday afternoon, McCrory chief legislative liaison Fred Steen said the governor would have supported doing so if the legislation being considered addressed only the privacy issues that are similar in the Charlotte ordinance. But Steen said the “proposal being considered goes beyond the scope of the bathroom issue” and that other issues should be dealt with during the regular work session in late April.
Monday night’s release and Moore’s email made no reference to the scope of the proposal.