Hundreds of Thousands Call for Repeal of North Carolina Anti-LGBT Law As Legislature Returns

by Stephen Peters

RALEIGH, NC – Nearly 190,000 signatures demanding the repeal of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2 were delivered to the office of Gov. Pat McCrory today by a collection of civil rights, faith, business, and advocacy groups as the state legislature returns for the first time since it introduced and passed the law limiting legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in a one-day special session on March 23. Thousands of people are expected to rally for the discriminatory law’s repeal outside the legislature throughout Monday.

Today’s petition delivery was coordinated by TurnOUT! NC, a joint project of the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU of North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality, and Equality North Carolina, whose goal is to mobilize and empower LGBT and pro-equality North Carolinians against HB 2.

“For more than a month, Governor McCrory, Senator Berger, and Speaker Moore have sat idly by as HB 2 has cost North Carolina millions, badly damaged their state's reputation, and inflicted irreparable harm on the people they were elected to serve,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “The catastrophe these leaders have created and the damage they have caused can only begin to be reversed by repealing HB 2 in its entirety and replacing it with commonsense non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. To do anything less would be to continue their streak of gross negligence. The time for leadership is now.”

“It’s time the legislature get to work repairing the damage it has caused with the passage of HB 2,” said Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, which is challenging the law in federal court along with the national ACLU and Lambda Legal on behalf of six LGBT North Carolinians. “HB 2 was a reckless attempt to malign and marginalize transgender people, and it is bringing immense harm to our state’s people, economy, and reputation. The General Assembly must work as expeditiously as possible to repeal this terrible law as it worked to pass it.”

“HB2 is a blatant, unconstitutional attack on the transgender community in North Carolina and we call for its immediate repeal. We must come together as a community to organize and support each other to make North Carolina safe for all of its citizens,” said Ivy Hill, LGBT Rights Toolkit Coordinator for the Campaign for Southern Equality.

“House Bill 2 is a deeply discriminatory bill that has put the most vulnerable people of our community at risk. This bill is a mess that Governor McCrory and NCGA leadership have made for us. In a special session – in just 12 hours – they passed a bill without ever meeting the people that are directly impacted by the law – transgender North Carolinians,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “Over the last month, Business leaders, entertainers, advocates and everyday North Carolinians have mobilized and called for the repeal of HB 2. Senator Berger, Speaker Moore, and Governor McCrory can no longer ignore the havoc the bill has wreaked on the state. The only way to restore North Carolina's reputation is to repeal all of HB 2 and pass comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that protect all North Carolinians.”

Since Gov. McCrory signed HB 2, a host of high-profile Republicans, including Sen. Mark Kirk, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, have spoken out against HB 2 and similar bills.

More than 180 leading CEOs and business executives of major companies, including Apple, Bank of America, and Marriott International have called for HB 2’s repeal. The law has led Paypal to cancel a major expansion that would have brought more than 400 jobs to North Carolina, and Deutsche Bank to halt plans to add 250 jobs in the state. Major artists, including Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and Pearl Jam, have cancelled performances in North Carolina as a result of HB 2, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Thursday that the league will move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte if the law is not repealed.

In the federal court challenge, Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of North Carolina argue that through HB 2, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state. The complaint argues that HB 2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and invading the privacy of transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex.

The Obama administration is presently considering whether HB 2 makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways, and housing. North Carolina receives more than $4.5 billion in federal funding for secondary and post-secondary schools, all of which remains at jeopardy given the state’s policy of systemically violating Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender students. On April 19, the federal appeals court that has jurisdiction over North Carolina ruled in a separate case that Title IX protects the rights of transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities, such as restrooms, that are consistent with their gender identity. Read more about how this bill puts federal funding at risk here and here.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

TurnOUT! NC is a joint project of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the ACLU of North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE), and Equality NC (ENC). The project aims to educate and empower North Carolina voters during this pivotal election year and repair the reputation of North Carolina as a welcoming place for all.


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