Mudslinging Won’t Distract Business Groups from Fighting for Protections

Published Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Melissa Morris, President | (E)
Ann Gonzales, Vice President | (E)

February 24, 2016


The Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce (CLGBTCC) is working together with numerous organizations to keep Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance at the forefront of community minds.

In 2014 the Charlotte Non-Discrimination Ordinance Coalition which consisted of Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC), Charlotte Business Guild (now CLGBTCC), Clergy for Equality, Equality NC, Human Rights Campaign, LGBT Democrats of Mecklenburg County, Genderlines, Straight Allies Charlotte, Democracy NC and ACLU of North Carolina, was formed as a nonpartisan coalition, aiming to promote nondiscrimination laws and policies within the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. After formation, this coalition asked community members to share personal experiences of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression/ identity, familial status or marital status. Results of that survey, compiled by community members, were then presented by Scott Bishop to city council and Charlotte’s Mayor for consideration as a result of requests made by council in for data backing claims of discrimination made by the LGBT community.

On Monday, February 22, the Non-Discrimination Ordinance was passed by City Council in a 7-4 vote. It will protect a wide range of people, including but not limited to those in the LGBT community from “Arbitrary discrimination in restaurants, bars, hotels, movie theaters, taxicabs and more. The full suite of changes would also require businesses contracting with the city to have similar prohibitions against discrimination and would empower the Charlotte- Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee to track, monitor and resolve discrimination complaints based on newly added characteristics: sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status and familial status. That means even single parents and families with children are protected under these new changes.”

Though the need for expanding protections is clear, the opposition is continuing to use scare tactics and irrelevant backgrounds to try and move the conversation away from the ordinance, honing focus on the President of the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Chad Sevearence, and his background. The CLGBTCC wants to be transparent with the facts related to its President and wants to be clear that we are moving ahead.

In 1998, Chad was charged and convicted in 2000 of lewd act on a minor age 15. Chad has continually made those he works with and serves aware of his past. Upon release, Chad registered as a sex offender under state guidelines, completed the required treatment and conditions of his release successfully. Under the current state provisions and Chad’s level of offense, he is in full compliance. He is permitted to be around minors within the presence of their parents or guardians, contrary to the assertions made by the opposition of this ordinance. Chad Sevearance-Turner, now married, has taken full responsibility for his past, and continues to do important work within the business community and through-out Charlotte. He has continued to notify those he works with and our community about is past and what he has learned from

  1. The two-decade old charge and conviction have nothing to do with the work he and the Chamber do for the LGBT and business community, and any allegation to the contrary would only cause a distraction from the real issues at hand.

After three years of incredible service and dedication to growing the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Chad Turner resigned his position as President on Monday, February 22, 2016. Chad and his husband will be doubling their efforts to grow their businesses and spending much deserved time with family. The CLGBTCC wishes Chad the best in their endeavors and will work hard to continue to grow upon his legacy of change.

Current VP Melissa Morris has moved into the role of President for the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Melissa contracts as a Learning Development Consultant, specializing in culturally-based programs and inclusive work environments. In addition to consulting, Melissa works full-time in financial education as a District Leader with Primerica, where she helps families with income protection, debt solutions and asset management.

As part of an ever-growing contingency of supporters in Charlotte working toward protecting all people in the Queen City from discrimination, The CLGBTCC, the LGBT community and its many allies will not allow the opposition to change the narrative of ensuring the rights and protections guaranteed to all citizens of Charlotte. The Board of the Charlotte LGBT Chamber and its allies stand together to maintain our focus on the present.