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Charlotte passes LGBTQ public accommodations bill despite threat from Governor

The issue has been part of a national debate that included the high-profile defeat of a nondiscrimination ordinance late last year by voters in Houston, and LGBT advocates worried bathroom-access fears would be used elsewhere to fight equal-rights measures. South Dakota legislators recently passed a bill requiring students to use bathrooms corresponding to their sex at birth, though it hasn’t been signed by the governor.

In North Carolina, the advocacy group Equality NC issued a statement criticizing McCrory for “perpetuating the same tired and debunked myths about transgender people and public safety.” Executive director Chris Sgro accused the governor and legislators of trying “to bully the Charlotte City Council with threats to strip municipalities of their rights to govern.”

During the meeting, about 140 members of the public got one minute each to give the council their opinions on the measure. Because the council chambers were filled to capacity, some speakers had to stay in an adjacent room and await their time.

Among the speakers was Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of NC Values Coalition.

“I applaud Gov. McCrory for having the sense to throw out this unreasonable and unnecessary ordinance,” Fitzgerald said to the council. “If you pass this tonight, you can guarantee yourself at least a lawsuit or the General Assembly coming against what you’ve done.”

Materials given to the council ahead of the meeting cited some residents’ concerns that sexual predators would use the ordinance to gain entry to women’s restrooms for assault or indecent exposure, but it also noted that staff researchers hadn’t uncovered any evidence of an increase in such crimes in cities with non-discrimination ordinances.

Before the meeting, several hundred people stood outside in a wind-driven rain to protest the proposal, holding signs with messages such as: “No Men In Women’s Restrooms” and “Keep Kids Safe.”

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