North Carolina wins more LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections

On Aug. 16 local governments in the North Carolina City of Winston-Salem and Chatham County voted unanimously to approve LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances, becoming the eleventh and twelfth North Carolina communities to approve similar ordinances this year.

“It is a huge step for Winston-Salem," said Kevin Mundy, the city's only openly-gay member of the city council. “There are several other cities that got ahead of us from a timing perspective, but we have been working on it as long as those other cities have," Mundy told the Winston-Salem Journal.

The ordinances will ensure protections in private employment and public-facing businesses – such as restaurants and venues – from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and natural hairstyle.

As an example of why such ordinances are necessary: In Winston-Salem in December 2020, a local venue, The Warehouse on Ivy, turned down a same-sex couple who had wanted to book the site for a wedding. The owner of the venue cited religious objections as the reason for turning down the event.

The votes come just a week after Charlotte, the largest city in NC, passed its own ordinance in a unanimous, bipartisan decision. The new measures come as Greensboro, Durham and Asheville, the towns of Apex, Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough and Buncombe and Orange counties, also passed similar ordinances affecting public accommodation and employment.

Kendra R. Johnson, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina, hailed the recent NC victories:

“The passage of two amazing ordinances, in Winston-Salem and Chatham County, sends a strong message: North Carolina cities and counties care deeply about racial and social justice. Momentum is building for protections on the local level, and we encourage more cities and counties to follow suit."

Kendra R. Johnson, Executive Director (2nd from R) with the staff of Equality North Carolina

Allison Scott, Director of Impact & Innovation at the Campaign for Southern Equality, said:

“Last week's unanimous and bipartisan vote to protect LGBTQ people and others from discrimination in Charlotte is clearly having ripple effects for other communities in North Carolina, illuminating a path toward dignity and respect for all people. We applaud leaders in Winston-Salem and Chatham County for their consequential votes, which are further evidence of the growing consensus in North Carolina that we must be a state where everyone can live free from discrimination."

Despite these wins, the new ordinances place just 20.95% of the NC population in communities with LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections. But polling shows that 67% of people in North Carolina support protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination and local LGBTQ activists are hopeful that more progress will follow. Nondiscrimination ordinances are increasingly being fought for in red states as a recent study by Center For American Progress showed 1 in 3 LGBTQ Americans nationwide still experience discrimination in matters such as employment, housing and consumer behavior.

Through the NC is Ready for LGBTQ Protections campaign, led by Equality North Carolina and the Campaign for Southern Equality, a collective of voices has spoken out for LGBTQ protections at the local, state, and federal levels. Learn more at www.ncisready.org.

Donate to the 'Y'all Means All' campaign here.

About Equality NC

Equality NC is dedicated to securing equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) North Carolinians. www.equalitync.org

Based in Asheville, NC, the Campaign for Southern Equality promotes full LGBTQ equality across the South. Our work is rooted in commitments to equity in race, gender and class. www.southernequality.org

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