Allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice in restaurants, stores and other places of public accommodation divided the Charlotte City Council on Monday night.
The city is considering expanding its existing nondiscrimination ordinance to include protections for people based on their sexual orientation, sexual identity or sexual expression, and familial or marital status.
Much of the ordinance – such as adding gay and lesbian people to a group of protected classes – wasn’t controversial. But the bathroom question provoked a sharp exchange between council members.
At-large member Michael Barnes, a Democrat, said he was concerned about sending his children into public restrooms.
“If I send one of my daughters into a public bathroom, and I see (a man) going into that bathroom, I am going to have some concern,” Barnes said.
His comment drew a rebuke from Al Austin, a fellow Democrat. Austin said it was deplorable that the city and nation was still debating civil rights, 50 years after the federal Civil Rights Act was passed.
“Mr. Barnes, if you want to know about people being discriminated against because they are LGBT, it’s a bad feeling going into a restaurant and being asked to turn around,” Austin said.
The City Council will vote on the ordinance Feb. 23.
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SOURCE: The Charlotte Observer