Buncombe County has officially become the first Western North Carolina community to pass a ban on discrimination in the areas of employment and housing.
The county board of commissioners unanimously voted for the non-discrimination ordinance. It followed more than an hour of comments from the public. The majority of presenters, many from the LGBTQ community, spoke in favor of the measure, saying it would protect those in the community from being denied jobs or accommodations because of their race, gender, or sexual identity.
“I hope none of you have your rights put up for debate, it’s dehumanizing, and it’s a horrible experience," Allison Scott, an Asheville resident who identifies as transgender, said.
Ahead of the vote, Commissioner Jasmine Beach Ferrara said it’s a conversation the entire country is grappling with. Just as the meeting got underway, Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder for the death of George Floyd.
“This is a moment of there being a step forward towards accountability for justice and so much for us all to do as community members, for racial justice and equality, and to create public safety systems that truly protect all people," Beach Ferrara said.
The ordinance is slated to go into effect July 1. Beach-Ferrara says that would give time for county staff to create systems forl reporting discrimination and to provide resources for local employers and agencies to understand compliance.
Similar ordinances have passed in five North Carolina cities, as well as Orange County, in the last year.