Republicans who value their rights should know that local governments are once again reducing their freedoms of speech, assembly and religion.
From the NC Values Coalition on January 11, 2021:
"Following the expiration of HB142 and the state legislature’s inability to make its provision permanent, local governments in Orange County are conspiring together to pass local sexual orientation and gender identity ordinances that undermine religious liberty. Officials in cities such as Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Hillsborough and the entire Orange County government have decided to enact such changes, despite the fact that these types of local ordinances violate the State Constitution as well as First Amendment protections in the Federal Constitution.
"These cities made the announcement last Friday, and are trying to bypass public attention by rushing the consideration process.
"Just as Charlotte did back in 2015, municipal leaders are hurriedly advancing an unnecessary and unconstitutional law where the town council can punish people and businesses that don't hold to the "government view" of sexuality. The intent is to deprive citizens of their First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of their religious beliefs. The proposed broad-brush ordinance being considered tonight in Hillsborough is an attempt to deny every self-employed entrepreneur, small business, church and nonprofit organization doing business with and within the municipality the right to free speech and religious exercise, which are fundamental to the American system.
"The ordinance adds sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected discrimination class for anyone who employs even one person and any "place" that "supplies goods or services on the premises to the public." There is no religious exemption, so all religious ministries will be affected. Penalties for violating these ordinances would be $500 daily fines and enforcement actions brought by the town to coerce the violator to exhibit the government's view of sexuality.
"Leaders have granted no protections for women in domestic abuse shelters, children attending summer camp, churches or religious nonprofits and businesses operating within their sincerely held religious beliefs. On behalf of our coalition of churches, members and small businesses the North Carolina Values Coalition strongly opposes the drafts considered by municipalities in Orange County and we will review our legal options to challenge any ordinances that are enacted.
"No one should be required by the government to violate their religious beliefs or change their speech as a condition to receive a benefit from a local government program or operate their business within the city limits."
UPDATE [Jan 11, 2021]: The town of Hillsborough passed the ordinance Monday evening.
UPDATE [Jan 12, 2021]: The Carrboro Town Council unanimously passed the ordinance on Tuesday.
UPDATE [Jan 13, 2021]: The ordinance is item #10 for discussion on the Jan 13 Chapel Hill Town Council Meeting Agenda. The proposed language of the ordinance may be found here.
Per this joint press release, Orange County plans to take up the ordinance at their Board of County Commissioners Meeting on Tuesday, Jan 19, at 7 PM. Meeting agenda should be posted here by the end of this week.
Comments may be directed to all commissioners through one email address. Note that all communication sent to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners through this email address becomes public record subject to immediate public disclosure and is viewable by the general public.
UPDATE [Jan 14, 2021]: As expected, the ordinance was passed unanimously by the Chapel Hill Town Council on Wednesday night.