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Charlotte City Council expected to approve LGBT protections in August

Republican Tariq Bokhari signaled an interest in working with Democrats to include conservative ideas in an ordinance providing protections for LGBTQ citizens.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Following other cities in North Carolina, Charlotte City Council looks poised to adopt non-discrimination protections for the city's LGBTQ community this August.

"I'm not going to make any excuses for the timeline, I wish we would've been able to do it by now," said Larken Egleston, a Democrat. "It's not because we're no committed to it. It will get done. We're aiming for August passage."

In June, the council will vote on the city's budget and the controversial comprehensive 2040 development plan. City Council doesn't formally meet in July. 

"It falls into a laundry list of dumpster fires we're in the middle of," said Tariq Bokhari, a Republican. 

August's vote will be a long time coming. Five years ago, Charlotte led the state in passing a non-discrimination ordinance that would protect members of the LGBTQ community from employment and housing discrimination. In a very public spat that made national headlines, state lawmakers limited the city's powers. Those limits expired six months ago. 

"It's time. It's simply time," said Matt Comer with Charlotte Pride

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In recent months, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Durham and several counties have passed non-discrimination ordinances.

"If you can't find a place to live or place to work because you're LGBTQ, you can't live," Comer said.

Unlike the last time council debated the issue, it might include Republican input.

"We are very interested and passionate about bringing forth some of the thoughts we have, proactively," Bokhari said.

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Bokhari says he's put together a group of young Republicans, including a member of the LGBTQ community, to approach the issue from a conservative lens. Historically, when it comes to LGBTQ rights, Republicans have often opposed any protections or stayed on the sidelines of the issue.

Comer says gay rights groups welcome a new perspective from Charlotte Republicans.

"This is a nonpartisan issue," Comer said.

Contact Ben Thompson at bthompson@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly.
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