The Latest: Public speaks to proposed Charlotte ordinance

AP News
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Posted: Feb 22, 2016 8:04 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on a Charlotte proposal to expand protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people (all times local)

7:40 p.m.

Members of the public have begun expressing their opinions to the Charlotte City Council on a proposal that expands the city's nondiscrimination ordinance.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts reminded the 140 speakers on the list that they had one minute to express themselves. Several times, Roberts had to remind the audience to hold their applause and cheering after each comment.

Of the first 10 speakers, five of them spoke for the ordinance and five were against. One opponent, Jeanette Wilson, called herself "a mama bear" and said "she's still angry." Wilson pounded the lectern as she told the council the proposed ordinance was bad for Charlotte.

Juli Ghazi, a restaurant owner and the 12th person to speak, told the council that her establishment has a restroom that is gender neutral and she supports the proposal.

Because the council chambers were filled to capacity, some speakers had to stay in an adjacent room and await their time to speak.

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5:45 p.m.

Several hundred people stood in a wind-driven rain to voice their opposition to a proposed ordinance that would expand Charlotte's nondiscrimination ordinance to include places of public accommodation. The proposal includes a measure that would allow people to use restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

To shouts of "Hallelujah" and "Don't Do It Charlotte," the protesters gathered in the plaza at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center. They heard a number of speakers urge them to oppose the measure, which was set for a vote by the Charlotte City Council.

The protesters held signs that said "No Men In Women's Restrooms" and "Keep Kids Safe."

Inside the center, there were several hundred more people who waited to get inside the council auditorium. Each person had to pass through a metal detector before entering.

The council meeting was scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

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2:30 p.m.

North Carolina's largest city may pass a law allowing transgender people to choose public bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, prompting the governor to call the measure a threat to public safety and warn that the General Assembly may step in.

The Charlotte City Council was expected to vote Monday on the proposal to revise the city's nondiscrimination ordinance. The proposal includes a measure that would allow people to use restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said in an email Sunday that changing the policy on restrooms could "create major public safety issues."

A statement from the advocacy group Equality NC says McCrory is pushing "debunked myths about transgender people" and bullying local government.