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NC Towns Considering More LGBT Protections After Moratorium

A sign for an all-gender bathroom is seen at Exiles Bar in Washington, D.C.
Ted Eytan
Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0
A sign for an all-gender bathroom is seen at Exiles Bar in Washington, D.C.

HILLSBOROUGH — Three North Carolina municipalities plan this week to discuss ordinances to expand more anti-discrimination protections to LGBT citizens.

Town boards for these Orange County communities have placed proposals on their agendas on successive nights, beginning Monday in Hillsborough. Carrboro's council meets Tuesday and Chapel Hill's on Wednesday.

Gay-rights groups say the ordinances, if enacted, would be the first approved since the General Assembly's 3 1/2-year pause on such rules expired Dec. 1. These groups have urged their passage by towns and cities. The moratorium emerged from a compromise between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican lawmakers to do away with the state's 2016 “bathroom bill” — House Bill 2 — related to transgender people.

A key disputed section of House Bill 2 directed transgender people to use public bathrooms matching their biological sex instead of the gender they identify with. It drew national condemnation and prompted several large corporations and sports teams to relocate events to other states or reconsider expanding in North Carolina.

The town ordinances would make it unlawful within town limits for businesses to discriminate in employment and in offering goods and services to the public on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and other differences. Some proposals would subject violators to misdemeanors and fines.

Although the legislature that convenes this month will still be controlled by Republicans, the party lacks a veto-proof majority and will have limited options to cancel any local ordinances that might be passed. Cooper was reelected in November. The GOP has shown little interest in passing statewide protections for the LGBT community.

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