Anti-discrimination ordinances are passing all over the county.
By Clint Parker
Weaverville – Several non-discrimination ordinances (NDO) recently passed in the area. First was in Buncombe County, then Weaverville and last the City of Asheville. Buncombe County passed an NDO rule to cover everything from gender fluidness to hairstyles. They also backed it with enforcement officers and a civil penalty of $100 a day for violators.
On Monday (April 26th), the Weaverville Town Council passed an NDO of their own, which is really a resolution rather than an ordinance. The NDO was discussed at the town’s April 13th workshop where Mayor Al Root, Vice Mayor Doug Jackson, and Councilmembers Jeffrey McKenna, Andrew Nagle, and Patrick Fitzsimmons were present, along with Town Manager Selena Coffey and Town Attorney Jennifer Jackson. Councilmember Dottie Sherrill was absent.
While the meeting lasted nearly two hours, the minutes of the meeting were short, stating, “Town Council members discussed the possibility of enacting a non-discrimination ordinance within the Town of Weaverville and possible provisions of such an ordinance. Some of the issues discussed included the existing laws regarding discrimination, what Buncombe County and other area municipal jurisdictions are considering for adoption, the perceived and actual need for such an ordinance in the Town of Weaverville, how an ordinance could and should be enforced, how to engage the public on this issue, and when Town Council should consider and possibly adopt a non-discrimination ordinance.
“There was consensus that the Mayor would put a draft non-discrimination ordinance on Town Council’s agenda for consideration in the future and consider how best to engage the public in the conversation in order to determine the community need and/or desire for such an ordinance.”
The <em>Tribune</em> asked for a record of the meeting. Town Clerk James Eller replied, “The workshop in question was not recorded.”
The ordinance was voted on the April 26th council meeting agenda and passed with little debate or input from the public (see story page 3).
Mayor Root is a lawyer and, according to the minutes of the workshop, singlehandedly wrote the town’s NDO. When asked to explain to residents how Weaverville’s NDO differs from Buncombe County’s, he said, “The county has passed an ordinance requiring certain conduct, hiring a bureaucracy to enforce it and threatening punishment for those who did not comply. [Our] council did not think that appropriate for Weaverville. In response to requests from several citizens and aware of actions taken throughout the state, we passed a resolution that we believe speaks to the prevailing belief in Weaverville that all of our neighbors deserve respect and equal treatment. We did not pass any new requirements. We simply made a statement affirming how folks can expect to be treated in Weaverville.”
RESOLUTION CONCERNING NON-DISCRIMINATION IN THE TOWN OF WEAVERVILLE
WHEREAS, consistent with the values established by Town Council in the Title VI Non-Discrimination Policy and Implementation Plan adopted on April 27th, 2020, the Mayor and Town Council affirm that every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and should be able to live and work in the Town of Weaverville without fear of discrimination of any kind; and
WHEREAS, LGBTQ people in North Carolina are vulnerable to discrimination in many areas of life, including education, housing, healthcare, public spaces, and the workplace, because of a lack of statewide non-discrimination protections; and
WHEREAS, while federal and statewide protections currently exist, in the last year there has been an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders based on their national origin or ancestry, there continues to be wage gaps on the basis of gender, race, and ethnicity, and many people of color continue to face systemic racism, especially in the area of legal justice and law enforcement; and
WHEREAS, Weaverville residents strongly support protecting all people from the indignity of discrimination; and
WHEREAS, non-discrimination laws, policies, and practices, including those that are LGBTQ-inclusive, send a message that everyone is welcome to build a life, raise a family, or start a business within the Town; and
WHEREAS, the Weaverville Town Government will not discriminate against any human being in its employment practices or in its provision of services, operations, or programs on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, race, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, national origin, national ancestry, marital status, familial status, pregnancy, veteran or military status, religion, religious beliefs or non-beliefs, age, disability, or income level; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Weaverville welcomes companies, corporations, small businesses, and sole proprietors who adopt non-discrimination policies and procedures; and
WHEREAS, discrimination will not be tolerated in areas of public accommodations which include places such as hotels, motels, inns, restaurants, retail stores or establishments, galleries, or other similar establishments, which supply goods, services, or accommodations to the public or which solicit or accept the patronage or trade of any person;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Town Council of the Town of Weaverville calls on all of its citizens to treat all persons with respect and dignity, and calls upon all businesses in the Town to adopt non-discrimination policies, procedures, and practices in order to reflect the community’s shared values of equality, inclusion, and fair access, and to protect against discrimination within the Town of Weaverville.