RALEIGH, North Carolina — Lawmakers in North Carolina have announced plans to hold a special session in light of concerns over the recently-passed “bathroom bill” in Charlotte, which permits residents to use the restroom and locker room that correlates with their “gender identity.”
As previously reported, despite hours of testimony largely in opposition of the proposal, the Charlotte City Council voted 7-4 last month to expand the city’s non-discrimination ordinance to add provisions for homosexuals and those who identify as the opposite sex.
Council members Al Austin, John Autry, Patsy Kinsey, Julie Eiselt, James Mitchell, LaWana Mayfield and Mayor Pro Tem Lyles voted in favor of the ordinance, while council members Ed Driggs, Claire Fallon, Greg Phipps, and Kenny Smith voted against the measure.
In light of the passing of the controversial ordinance, House Speaker Tim Moore vowed to overturn the law, which is set to take effect on April 1.
“The Charlotte City Council has gone against all common sense and has created a major public safety issue by opening all bathrooms and changing rooms to the general public,” he told the Charlotte Observer. “This ordinance is impossible to regulate as intended, and creates undue regulatory burdens on private businesses. I join my conservative colleagues and Gov. McCrory in exploring legislative intervention.”
The North Carolina Family Policy Council says that the problem goes beyond restroom usage.
“Similar ordinances have been used to force small business owners like florists, bakers, photographers and bed and breakfast owners and others to either conform to a government-dictated viewpoint in violation of those sincerely held religious beliefs or to face legal charges, fines and other penalties that have ultimately caused some to go out of business,” President John Rustin told WCNC-TV.
On Monday, following a rally at the state house, Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger announced that they had obtained the necessary three-fifths majority in the General Assembly to move forward with a special session on the matter.
“In accordance with the state Constitution, we will so call for a special session,” Moore and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said in a statement. “We aim to repeal this ordinance before it goes into effect to provide for the privacy and protection of the women and children of our state.”
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts has condemned the move.
“Special session is a waste of taxpayer money,” she Tweeted following the announcement. “The assembly should focus on teacher pay, not taking away rights.”
Gov. Pat McCrory has expressed support for legislative intervention. The special session is expected to be held on Wednesday.