Sun. Jun 20th, 2021

RALEIGH — Generating a social media firestorm may be the most effective action that LGBTQ people can take when they face discrimination in public accommodations in some places in North Carolina, given existing law.

That’s what McCae Henderson and his finance, Ike Edwards, did earlier this month after the owner of the Highgrove Estate in Fuquay-Varina said he would not host the couple’s same-sex wedding.

North Carolina law

State law in North Carolina does not protect people based on their sexual orientation from discrimination in education, employment, housing, credit or public accommodations, such as service by a business.

Advocates for LGBTQ people say they hear regularly from those who have been told they could not have a job, an apartment or a space in an emergency shelter because of their sexual orientation or sexual identity.

Allison Scott, a trans woman who is director of impact and innovation for the Asheville-based Campaign for Southern Equality, said the stated reasons may vary, but often have to do with a business owner or operator’s religious beliefs.

Local anti-discrimination ordinances

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Until December 2020, a state law made it illegal for local governments in the state to write any new ordinances banning discrimination in private employment or public accommodations. Since the expiration of the ban, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham, Greensboro, Hillsborough and Orange County have passed anti-discrimination ordinances.