Friday evening, the News and Observer’s Will Doran decided a tweet sent out by Lt. Governor Dan Forest was worth doing a fact check on. Here’s the tweet:
Charlotte ordinance opened all bathrooms to all sexes at all times when it removed exception for bath & locker rooms pic.twitter.com/wAdFl1lJAD
— Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (@LtGovDanForest) April 6, 2016
Now, go read the ‘fair and balanced’ alleged fact check, which includes all kinds of information about the HB2 controversy and nothing to do with the Charlotte Ordinance.
In fact, this ‘fact check’ seems to be less about the ordinance and more of a defense of PayPal. Note that nowhere in the Doran’s fact check is a link to the Charlotte Ordinance.
Doran’s ‘Fact Check’ on the Lt. Governor’s tweet a rating of False, naturally:
Forest, a vocal opponent of Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance, said it would have “opened all bathrooms to all sexes at all times.”
That is wrong. The ordinance would not have applied to private clubs or businesses – including PayPal, despite Forest’s claims to the contrary. The ordinance would have applied only to public accommodations.
And while there’s disagreement on what might have happened with bathrooms in public accommodations, precedent is on Charlotte’s side.
We rate this claim False.
Doran goes on to cite the Charlotte lawyer and appears to take his word as gospel for a poorly written amendment. Doran then discounts Rep. Dan Bishop’s thorough deconstruction of the ordinance’s problem and who is also a lawyer, yet Doran doesn’t mention that. Why?
Here’s the Charlotte attorney’s fantastical claim, to which Doran cleaves, emphasis added:
“City Attorney Robert Hagemann said the right to have separate bathrooms is implied in society and doesn’t need a local ordinance to confirm it. He added that no other city or state with similar anti-discrimination rules has argued that anyone could go into any bathroom, and that Charlotte officials never wanted to argue that, either.”
The last time I checked, ‘implications’ were not written or enforceable laws. Public decency laws are, and the Charlotte ordinance amendments violated them.
It’s worth ‘fact checking ‘ that the News and Observers’ sister paper, The Charlotte Observer, seemingly defended the Charlotte lawyer when the ordinance first came under attack.
As further proof the Lt. Governor must be wrong and the Charlotte lawyer right, Doran writes, “Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance specifically said that “this section does not apply to a private club or other establishment not, in fact, open to the public.””
The text Doran cites is from “Sec. 12-58. – Prohibited Acts section (b)”. That section is about advertisement and signage:
“unlawful to make, print, circulate, post, mail or otherwise cause to be published a statement, advertisement, or sign”
This line in section (b) moot, as section (a) has inserted “sex” into the facilities scenario:
“Sec. 12-58. – Prohibited Acts
“(a) It shall be unlawful to deny any person the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of a place of public accommodation because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or national origin.
So, what does this all mean? The Lt. Governor was correct. The Charlotte ordinance amendment did remove private exemptions.
One more time on the the ‘why’?
As written, it does outlaw single sex facilities due to the addition of “sex” and “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression” being places in the same section this means anyone can use any facility, anywhere within the city limits both public and privately held. It did remove private exemptions.
In fact, the text below is stricken in the ordinance amendment:
Sec. 12-59. – Prohibited sex discrimination.(a)
It shall be unlawful to deny a person, because of sex, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a restaurant, hotel, or motel.
(b) This section shall not apply to the following:(1)
Restrooms, shower rooms, bathhouses and similar facilities which are in their nature distinctly private.(2)
YMCA, YWCA and similar types of dormitory lodging facilities.(3)
A private club or other establishment not, in fact, open to the public.”
And now we know why Mr. Doran perhaps didn’t include a link to the actual ordinance.
Here is a copy of the full Charlotte Ordinance, for the factual record: