John M. Becker

Charlotte Kills Pro-LGBT Ordinance Because Bathrooms

Filed By John M. Becker | March 03, 2015 8:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: anti-discrimination ordinance, anti-trans propaganda, bathroom panic, Charlotte, fearmongering, nondiscrimination ordinance, North Carolina, transphobia

charlotte-skyline.jpgLast night, the city council of Charlotte, North Carolina voted down an ordinance that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of groups protected from discrimination.

The Charlotte Observer reports:

The measure failed 6-5, after a marathon meeting that featured hours of emotional debate and comments from supporters and opponents. Council members Michael Barnes, Kenny Smith, LaWana Mayfield, Ed Driggs, John Autry and Greg Phipps voted against it.

Before the final vote, council members had removed the section of the ordinance that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. That issue drew the most vigorous opposition from dozens of speakers.

"All over the world, there are restrooms for men and restrooms for women," said Driggs, a Republican. "It does not place an unreasonable burden on them and it does not stigmatize them."

But even with the bathroom portion removed, council remained divided. Several council members had said they were opposed to removing that part, which would also have applied to locker rooms and showers, because it weakened the ordinance.

Indeed, Mayfield and Autry both voted against the final measure because they refused to support an ordinance that would force trans people to misgender themselves in order to use the bathroom. The other four no votes were from opponents of LGBT civil rights.

More, after the break.

Matt Comer of QNotes reports that debate over the proposal was contentious, and the public comment period lasted for almost four hours. Opponents, who made up the majority of the 120 speakers, spouted predictable anti-LGBT talking points:

Several high-profile speakers addressed the Council, including NC Values Coalition's Tami Fitzgerald, Concord-based anti-LGBT theologian Dr. Michael Brown, anti-LGBT street preacher Flip Benham and his son, David Benham.

Each of those opposed hit a variety of talking points -- claiming the ordinances would put women and children in danger or violate religious freedoms, among others...

One speaker told councilmembers that it was "evil to allow men into women's restrooms," and that if they voted for the measure, they would "stand before a holy God on the day of judgment."

Throughout the evening, blatant and vicious transphobia was on full display.

Near the end of the public comment, a transgender woman, who identified herself only as Coco, collapsed after speaking. Flip Benham laughed and joked about Coco's gender as she laid on the floor needing medical attention.

After about a five-minute recess, Council began hearing speakers again, with Greg Farmer directly alluding to Benham's behavior. "Anytime you see an innocent person fall down and laugh about her gender...your opinions become invalid," Farmer told Council.

verbal_abuse.jpgBenham -- an evangelical preacher, die-hard anti-gay and anti-choice activist, and the father of would-be reality TV stars David and Jason Benham -- also reportedly harassed another trans person during the course of the public comment period:

Olivia, 17, told qnotes she went to use the women's restroom on the second floor of the government center. Inside, everything was fine and she heard no complaints from the adult women in the restroom. But when she came out, Olivia says a man confronted her, called her a "young man" and said she shouldn't have been in the women's restroom.

Olivia also said that Benham joined in the confrontation. Benham's fellow activist, Ante Pavkovic, apparently recorded the incident, but Benham refused to show qnotes the video, saying he'll send it to Shawn Hannity at Fox News.

"I don't want a pervert like yourself trying to misrepresent what happened in there when that young boy went into that bathroom with the young girls," Benham said.

The teenager said she responded angrily, calling Benham an "asshole," but her mother, Darlena, said she felt Benham was the aggressor. She stepped between them. As they walked away, Benham allegedly said the teenager should be arrested.

Benham called the teenager a "punk" and a "pervert" and claimed there were children in the restroom. "He was in the bathroom with the kids. That boy was in with our girls," Benham said, when asked if he thought it was appropriate to confront a 17 year old.

Because "Christian love," amirite?

This is the second time in 25 years that Charlotte has voted down protections for members of the LGBT community; in 1992, the city council rejected sexual orientation nondiscrimination protections by a 7-4 vote.

Of the 20 largest cities in the United States, only three still refuse to extend these basic protections to LGBT people: Memphis, Tennessee; Jacksonville, Florida; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

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