An Open Letter to Bob Morgan and the Charlotte Chamber

Dear Mr. Morgan,

I don’t know you. I don’t know your politics, your faith, or anything about you other than your position as president of the Charlotte Chamber, and that you seem to have a nice tan. And that you speak for the Charlotte Chamber in your recent letter to the Charlotte Observer. I don’t speak for anyone but me. My opinions are not those of a millionaire CEO, or even a six-figure-earning MBA VP in one of the downtown towers. I’m just a small businessman working out of his spare bedroom trying to make ends meet. As such, I’m probably not terribly important to you and the people you claim to represent.

But here’s what I am, Bob. I’m as staunch an ally to Charlotte LGBTQ community as I know how to be. And I vote, both in the booth and with my dollars. And apparently there are a lot of me around, because when the last City Council failed to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte, we voted in a Council that would. And they did.

And then your buddies in Raleigh, who you are showing more loyalty to than the people you are hired to promote in Charlotte, reached down and yanked away not only the blanket of protection that Charlotte put into place for LGBTQ citizens, but also stripped away rights from every municipality in our state, and from everyone who has ever held a job in North Carolina. And if our City Council “lit the match” by passing a non-discrimination ordinance, our state legislature “went nuclear” by not only removing protections for LGBTQ citizens, but also anyone else that is wrongfully terminated for a reason other than a very narrow set of reasons that follow almost identically the federal EEOC guidelines. And if HB2 was merely a reaction to Charlotte’s “overreach,” why does the majority of this bill address subjects that have nothing to do with Charlotte non-discrimination ordinance?

Charlotte’s ordinance had nothing to do with minimum wage, yet it’s part of HB2. Why is that?

Charlotte’s ordinance had nothing to do with bringing suit against an employer in state court, yet that ability is removed by HB2. Why is that?

If this was really about bathrooms and protecting the innocent women and children of our state, why does only one in three sections of HB2 – 33% of the law for the mathematically challenged – have anything to do with bathrooms?

This is not about bathrooms, Bob. It is about making sure that our people are protected, not just from discrimination in restrooms, but from wrongful termination, and from being paid unfairly for the work they put in.

And you want to compromise on these issues? You want to fly in the face of Bank of America, American Airlines, Wells Fargo, Red Hat, Time Warner Cable, PepsiCo, and Rob Reiner? Come on, Bob, even Archie Bunker’s son-in-law “Meathead” knows this law is wrong!

Negotiation on human rights gets us “separate but equal.” Negotiation on human rights get us “domestic partnerships.” Negotiation on human rights gets us right back to Jim Crow.

I am not calling for “inaction” by my City Council. I am calling for steadfast resistance. I am calling on Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Council Members John Autry, Patsy Kinsey, Julie Eiselt, and LaWana Mayfield to stand firm against these calls to “compromise,” which are really just Raleigh telling Charlotte’s leadership to toe the line they have drawn. I don’t want city leadership that will toe anyone else’s line. I want city leadership that will push that line of equality and progress forward.

And Bob, if you, as president of the Charlotte Chamber, aren’t interested in pushing that line forward, then you should resign. Yesterday would be a good time for that. Because if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, and bowing to Raleigh’s demands and giving a victory to a gerrymandered and corrupted process is no solution.

Make no mistake, Bob, we are in a fight for the soul of our state. Not just about bathrooms, or LGBTQ equality, but about progress versus fear, about acceptance versus ignorance, and about honest concern for the well being of your fellow man versus manipulative, fear-based politics that exist only to line the pockets of the few at the expense of the many.

So pick a side, or stand aside. But there must be no compromise, and history is watching.

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