On Monday night, the Charlotte City Council passed a SOGI (an ordinance that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity). Charlotte's SOGI applies to vendors who contract with the City, public accommodations, employment and vehicles for hire like taxis and Uber.
Every person should be treated with dignity and respect, and our laws should protect the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of every citizen, no matter who they are. Unfortunately, coercive sexual orientation and gender identity laws like Charlotte’s NDO undermine both fairness and freedom. These laws force people who willingly serve everyone to promote messages and celebrate events that conflict with their beliefs.
Around the country, NDO laws like Charlotte’s SOGI have been used to punish people like Jack Phillips, Barronelle Stutzman, and Blaine Adamson for declining to create custom art that expresses messages that conflict with their beliefs. These types of laws coerce uniformity of thought and speech on beliefs about marriage, sex, and what it means to be male and female. Creative professionals were hung out to dry by Charlotte’s ordinance.
Unfortunately, the only two Republicans on the City Council, Tariq Bokhari and Ed Driggs, voted FOR the SOGI ordinance along with Democrats. While Tariq worked hard to include some of his protections for religious organizations, the SOGI adopted Monday night is wholly inadequate to protect religious freedom or freedom of speech.
People who live and/or work in Charlotte are about to find out how the City’s nondiscrimination ordinance will limit their Constitutional freedoms. Here's what Charlotte's SOGI impacts:
- The ordinance requires that every contract, subcontract, or bid with the City of Charlotte must contain a specific warrant that the company does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Thus, the City forces private companies to accept their definition of marriage, sex, and what it means to be male and female in order to enter into contracts with the City.
- The ordinance makes it unlawful for any business, entertainment, recreation, or transportation facility whose goods, services, facilities, privileges, or accommodations are offered or sold to the public to deny public accommodations to any person because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and other protected classes. This will impact businesses that are run according to Christian principles, like wedding vendors who do not want to violate their religious beliefs by serving same-sex weddings.
- The ordinance makes it unlawful for any employer to fail to hire, to fire, or to otherwise discriminate against a person because of his or her sexual orientation, gender identity or other protected class.
Vehicles for Hire:
- Taxi drivers, Uber drivers, and anyone else who operates a vehicle for hire cannot refuse to transport a person based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or other protected class.
The ordinance will be enforced by Charlotte's Community Relations Committee, which has the power to resolve complaints through conciliation or refer them to the City Attorney for civil remedies.
Religious organizations are exempted; however, the exemption does impact religious individuals. This is wholly inadequate to meet the guaranty of religious freedom contained in our First Amendment or our State Constitution. The result will most assuredly be that religious individuals suffer discrimination against their religious beliefs.
We will provide a more detailed analysis of what the Charlotte ordinance will mean for individuals and business owners in Charlotte next week.
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