I’m not pretending I know everything about this ordinance or the people surrounding it—but in a nutshell, here’s what’s going on according activists on both sides of the issues:
Religious activist in NC say they have a God given right to exercise their faith in public—and in their businesses, not just privately or in church.
The nondiscrimination side of the argument—mostly spurred on by LGBT activists—say public businesses shouldn’t be able to discriminate based on religious ideology.
Talking points and scenarios
A gay couple goes into a bakery to buy a wedding cake because they are getting married. Should the owner of the bakery be allowed to refuse service because he’s a Christian and doesn’t believe in gay marriage?
A lesbian couple takes their child to a pediatrician. Should the doctor be allowed to refuse to treat the child because he’s a Christian and doesn’t like the lesbian’s lifestyle?
Bathroom issues: should a transgendered person be allowed to use the restroom of their expressed identity? Or should they be forced to use the bathroom of their biological identity?
Before you answer for yourself—it get’s more complicated. What if the transgendered person is post-op, meaning they have had the necessary surgery to completely change from their biological gender to their expressed gender.
According to the religious activists who have teamed together to defeat Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance, religious freedom is exactly that: freedom. Freedom from doing business with those whom the business owner feels is unworthy.
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of NC Values Coalition
Mark Creech, president of Christian Action League
Dave Kistler, president of the NC Pastors Network
Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church of Charlotte
But, LGBT activists say it’s about safety and accommodation. If a business is open to the public, advocates for equality believe business owners should not be allowed to discriminate against individuals with alternative lifestyles.
Transgender activists such as Janice Covington Allison – who ran for the Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party say it’s a matter of safety—and possibly of life and death.
She points to the fact that transgender women are more likely to be accosted in male restrooms and she points to the fact that, to her knowledge, no one has ever been hurt when a transgender woman uses the female restrooms.
Covington-Allison points to the time when she was running for NCDP Chair against Patsy Keever, “we used the same restroom when we at the same events—and everything was fine.”
Janice Covington-Allison may be right about the safety issues concerning transgender women: although the statistics are sparse, transgender women have a higher incidence of being battered and/or killed than biological females.
Over 480 transgender women have been killed in the United States in the past 12 months—in what authorities say amount to hate crimes, many of those crimes are still unsolved.
Although it’s uncertain what the Charlotte city council will do, logically it stands to reason that they must address this issue of nondiscrimination in a reasonable way.
People who express their gender differently need to feel safe and be free from harm when using restroom facilities—given the fact transgender women are at a much higher incidence of being attacked and hurt, this city council now has the felt responsibility of doing the right thing and pass this ordinance with the restroom clause intact.