- Associated Press - Thursday, April 14, 2016

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Charlotte shouldn’t be punished for an ordinance that was ultimately overturned by legislation preventing local and state governments from mandating protections for LGBT people, Mayor Jennifer Roberts said Thursday at a town hall meeting designed to rally support for the repeal of the controversial measure.

The town hall, which drew about 200 people to a Charlotte hotel, was the first in a series of meetings leading up to a protest at the General Assembly when it convenes April 25 in Raleigh.

Roberts told the group that Charlotte is committed to being a welcoming community to all people - even those who disagree with the original ordinance - and will continue to stress the values of inclusion and equality.

Her comments coincided with a campaign designed to attract people to the city despite passage of the legislation that had led companies to withdraw commitments to the city and state and moved Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr to cancel upcoming concerts. In keeping with the theme of the city’s new campaign, Roberts showed off a white T-shirt with the words “Always Welcome Charlotte” on the front.

“We are better than this,” Roberts said. “We know that discrimination is never right. And I urge all of you to continue to reinforce with businesses and visitors that you talk to, to support Charlotte. It is important to reinforce the message that Charlotte did the right thing in affirming our commitment to equality and nondiscrimination, and that Charlotte should not be punished for standing up for equality.”

The leader of gay-rights group Equality North Carolina is now a North Carolina House member days before the General Assembly reconvenes with a new law addressing LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances a likely topic.

Chris Sgro, the leader of Equality North Carolina who was appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory to fill the remaining term of the late Rep. Ralph Johnson, said his major goal would be to have the law repealed.

“I have already started to reach out across party lines to make sure that legislators make this a priority,” Sgro said of the effort to repeal House Bill 2. “I firmly believe that actually hearing from an out member of the community impacted is going to be crucial, and so I want them to hear from me what it’s like for a member of the LGBT community to be living under this piece of legislation.”

Earlier Thursday, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin was in Raleigh to announce his group had filed public records requests with McCrory, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger seeking information about their interactions with one another and outside groups about the law.

The requests in part seek any correspondence between the elected leaders and the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom and North Carolina Values Coalition. The HRC’s demands also seek information on how portions of the law - particularly restroom gender rules and local government LGBT anti-discrimination regulations - came to be.

HRC and Equality North Carolina said McCrory and lawmakers have been misleading the public about the reasons for the law’s passage.

“The people of North Carolina deserve to know what happened, and transparency into the process of passing this hateful law is a helpful first step,” Equality NC official Matt Hirschy said in a release.


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