Last week, members of the Charlotte community and I met with the Legislative Correspondent of U.S. Representative Larry Kissell from the 8th District of North Carolina to talk about supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill to ban workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. Kissell voted in favor of the the hate crimes law, which passed last year, and voted to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We were excited to meet with Kissell’s team to remind him of the importance of passing ENDA and let him know that our community cannot afford to take things for granted at this critical time in the fight for equality.
Our diverse group included Randy Floyd, Co-chair for the local HRC Steering Committee and Roberta Dunn, a leader in the local transgender community who sits on the steering committees of HRC and the Mecklenburg Gay and Lesbian Political Action Committee (MeckPAC).
Jennifer Roberts, the Chairwoman of the Board of County Commissioners for Mecklenburg County, was there with constituent and straight ally Jacqueline Galante.
Everyone at the meeting shared stories about workplace discrimination in Charlotte with Legislative Correspondent John Trippi. The staff in Kissell’s office were told about a transgender woman who worked as a mechanic for the city in the Department of Auto Maintenance that lost her job shortly after letting her supervisor know of her desire to begin transitioning. They also shared a story about a grade school teacher who was fired once parents got wind of her sexual orientation and called the principal.
Roberts spoke to the staff about the economics and family benefits of ENDA. She talked about Mecklenburg County passing an employment non-discrimination policy five years ago that did not protect transgender people. This past December, MeckPAC and Roberts teamed up to pass domestic partner benefits and this year they teamed with Mayor Anthony Foxx and City Manager Curt Walton to create a non-discrimination policy in Charlotte. They are still working to include gender identity in the policy.
Charlotte is an up and coming city and there have been great strides to improve the livelihood of the LGBT community, but there is still much more work to be done. I hope that everyone will contact their lawmakers tell them to support and pass ENDA.