May 23--The Charlotte Chamber said Monday that it is committed to ending all forms of discrimination, and that it takes offense at the Human Rights Campaign's assertion that the group is an "anti-LGBT bully" for asking the City Council to repeal its nondiscrimination ordinance.
In a statement Monday, Chamber president Bob Morgan said his organization is "clearly focused on trying to expand protections in Charlotte and North Carolina for the LGBT community. Others may disagree with our approach but we take great offense at the suggestion that we support discrimination of any sort."
The HRC said Monday in a conference call with the news media that chambers of commerce in other cities and states that have had controversies over LGBT rights have stood with the HRC.
"What (the Chamber) is doing is unprecedented," said Chad Griffin, president of the HRC. "The chamber in Raleigh is with us, the chamber in Indiana was with us. The chambers of Atlanta and Houston were with us. You have to ask the question: Who does (chamber president) Bob Morgan represent?"
The HRC said that some of the chambers biggest members oppose House Bill 2, such as American Airlines.
"I have had confidential conversations with many of our (business) partners," Griffin said. "It's my belief that none of them stand behind Bob Morgan and what he's calling on."
American Airlines, however, left open the possibility of the city and state reaching a compromise.
"We've made our position on HB2 clear," the airline said in a statement Monday. "It is our hope that the elected officials are taking action to resolve this situation in a way that is consistent with our position. We are not inclined at this time to comment about any particular steps that are being taken toward that goal."
[READ MORE: City Council considers vote to repeal; activists call Charlotte Chamber 'anti-LGBT bully']
[READ MORE: Charlotte city attorney: Council to discuss HB2 in public]
Morgan said the chamber's position was made after consulting with its leadership.
"Our position was approved by a 24-0 vote of our executive committee with one abstention," he said. "We are calling on leaders at the city and state to act."
The City Council is scheduled to discuss Monday the economic impact of HB2. Council members could vote on repealing the city's nondiscrimination ordinance as the first step toward a compromise with Raleigh.
In return, the General Assembly could modify HB2.
If there is a vote Monday, it's unclear what council members will be voting on. There has been no written proposal made.
"Nobody has seen the language -- that's dangerous," said Chris Sgro of Equality NC.
Equality NC and the HRC worked last year to elect LGBT-friendly candidates to the council. Those candidates -- James Mitchell and Julie Eiselt -- voted for the city's nondiscrimination ordinance in February. The HRC also worked to re-elect Vi Lyles.
On the conference call, Griffin was asked if the HRC would work to defeat council candidates in 2017 if they vote to repeal.
"We would cross that bridge if we have to," Griffin said. "It's my hope that the Charlotte City Council members will stand up and do the right thing."
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