Evangelist Franklin Graham was among several conservative Christians protesting both online and in public against a plan to expand non-discrimination ordinances in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Christian Examiner reported.
“I cannot see why [the] City Council would even consider this,” Graham said in a statement on his website. “It is not only ridiculous, it’s unsafe.”
As the Charlotte Observer reported, the council is expected to vote on Monday night on measures banning taxi cab drivers and businesses from rejecting potential customers because of their sexuality. Businesses would also be banned from working with the city for two years if they are found to have discriminated against LGBT vendors.
But Graham and other opponents of the move have seized on a provision allowing trans men and women to use restrooms according to their gender identity.
“Common sense tells us that this would open the door, literally, to all sorts of serious concerns including giving sexual predators access to children,” he stated. “It violates every sense of privacy and decency for people of both sexes, adults and children.”
QNotes reported that around 160 to 200 opponents of the measure attended a protest before the council meeting, including former HGTV hosts David and Jason Benham — who lost their show after public criticism of their anti-LGBT views — as well as their father, anti-abortion activist Flip Benham. It also reported that at least 100 people had signed up to speak both for and against the meeting
“We are dealing with infantile little children who desperately need Jesus,” Flip Benham reportedly said at the demonstration.
Supporters of the bill call that line of attack a “red herring,” saying the measures would only protect more groups from being harassed.
“You have heard a lot of fearful rhetoric from a small, but vocal group of opponents” Equality NC executive Chris Sgrow told the Observer. “The loudest voices in the room are not always representing the majority.…This is the right thing to do, for fairness, for business and for our community.”
Watch a report on the debate surrounding expanding LGBT protections, as aired on WSOC-TV on Monday, below.