Asheville has always been, and will continue to be, a warm and welcoming city for all who visit. We have developed this website to help you retain attendance by articulating the values of our community. We are here to assist you in your efforts.
Our welcome video can be included in communications to attendees or used on your site.
Asheville is celebrated as a warm and welcoming destination and continues to pride itself on being an accepting community of diverse beliefs and lifestyles. Tolerance is the very fabric of our culture. More than 25,000 people in our community depend upon tourism for their livelihoods and remain committed to delivering life enriching experiences to everyone who visits. We welcome meeting planners and their attendees to share in these experiences, and our team of destination experts is committed to the success of your event.
"Asheville is a welcoming city that thrives on diversity and equality. We take pride in our unique character and openness to all, without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, familial status or disability." - Mayor Esther Manheimer speaks to Asheville City Council Vision Statement, adopted January 2016
In the spring of 2017, the North Carolina General Assembly overturned House Bill 2 and passed a compromise bill signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper. Upon signing the bill at a press conference in March, Cooper stated "a dark cloud hanging over our great state,” while acknowledging there were limitations to the deal, namely a three-year ban on local nondiscrimination ordinances. Ordinances already in place will not be changed.
The City of Asheville has long supported non-discriminatory practices and was cited by NC Equality as one of only a handful of cities in North Carolina that include protections for gender identity or expression.
What follows below is an update on the events associated with the bill that ultimately led to the repeal earlier this year.
NC Gov.: HB2 Repeal 'Not Perfect' But A 'Step Forward' for LGBTQ Community
Cooper announced he had signed the bill at a press conference Thursday afternoon, saying HB2 had been "a dark cloud hanging over our great state."
"It has stained our reputation, it has discriminated against our people and it has caused great economic harm in many of our communities," he said.VCooper acknowledged the limitations of the deal, and said the new law was "not a perfect deal and it's not my preferred solution. It stops short of many things we need to do as a state." HB2 was passed last March under former Gov. Pat McCrory.
March 30, 2017: HB2 Law Repealed
On March 30, 2017, the N.C. General Assembly passed an act to reset Session Law 2016-3 (HB2). HB142 repealed Session Law 2016-3 (HB2) as well as Session Law 2016-99 (HB169, described below). HB142 then added new language creating Article 81A of Chapter 143 of General Statutes regarding the preemption of regulation of access to multiple occupancy restrooms, showers or changing facilities in N.C. government buildings and schools. Additionally, HB142 states that no local government may enact or amend an ordinance regulating private employment practices or regulating public accommodations until Dec. 1, 2020. The ratified bill was presented to new N.C. Governor Roy Cooper on March 30, and he signed the bill into state law the same day. HB142 is now Session Law 2017-4.
July 18, 2016: House Bill 169
On July 1, 2016, the N.C. General Assembly passed an act to restore the state tort claim for wrongful discharge (in other words, the right to sue in state courts for discrimination), which had been previously precluded by the third part of HB2 (Session Law 2016-3) related to protection of rights in employment. HB169 then added new language affecting General Statute 1-54, with regard to a statute of limitations of one year on such actions or proceedings.
The ratified bill was presented to Governor McCrory on July 1, and he signed the bill into state law on July 18, noting: "With this action we have now reinstated all statewide non-discrimination policies that were previously in place, meaning N.C. is now one of 49 states that allows citizens to sue in state court for employment discrimination." HB169 is now Session Law 2016-99.
Statement from International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association president and CEO John Tanzella in 2016:
IGLTA recognizes the current challenges in N.C., and has reached out to the governor in opposition to HB2. However, we firmly believe that tourism is a means to changing minds and hearts and we continue to support tourism and meetings in N.C., which also support the state's LGBT businesses and citizens.
The Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau can provide additional resources to meet individual needs, including development of a custom microsite and welcome letter.
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We guarantee you a life-enriching experience each and every time you visit Asheville. It’s personal, personal to you. And it is also personal to us. We live that same genuine experience and want to share it with you. We empower you to discover a collection of experiences that is as unique and varied as each individual who visits us, and allow you to do so in a warm, embracing and creative environment.