Hundreds gathered April 11 in downtown Raleigh to show support for North Carolina’s controversial bathroom law. The rally was organized by a coalition of conservative political groups – including the Christian Action League (CAL), North Carolina Family Policy Council (NCFPC) and Return America – to express thanks to Gov. Pat McCrory and other lawmakers for passing House Bill 2 (HB 2).
Photo by K. Allan Blume
Hundreds gathered April 11 in Raleigh to show support for North Carolina’s controversial bathroom law.
HB 2 requires state buildings and public schools to designate bathrooms and changing facilities for use according to the biological sex indicated on a person’s birth certificate. Legislators passed the bill in response to a Charlotte ordinance that opened all restrooms to people based on the gender identity of their choice. Opponents of the ordinance said it could have allowed sexual predators to exploit the non-discrimination policy, endangering women and children.
Event speakers also clarified alleged misrepresentations of HB 2, countering what CAL Executive Director Mark Creech called a “mammoth smear campaign” by pro-LGBT activist groups and corporations.
PayPal announced April 5 that it is withdrawing plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte, saying the new law “invalidates protections” of LGBT rights. The online payment company’s decision, announced by CEO Dan Schulman in a statement on its website, allegedly cost the city hundreds of jobs.
Popular rock-and-roll singer Bruce Springsteen expressed opposition to HB 2 by cancelling an April 10 concert in Greensboro, referring to his stance as a “fight against prejudice and bigotry.”
Creech said unbalanced reporting “has resulted in unfounded criticisms of the law and opposition by various celebrities, large corporations and major sports groups – many of whom have wrongly threatened our state.”
John Rustin, NCFPC president and executive director, said in reference to recent outcry against HB 2, “While these activist groups would like us to believe that the publicized opposition to House Bill 2 is a spontaneous uprising of indignation from the business community, it’s actually a part of a carefully managed campaign by the [Human Rights Campaign] and its network of allies.”
Rally speakers included Creech, Rustin, Sen. Buck Newton, former professional baseball players and twin siblings David and Jason Benham, Rockingham County Sherriff Sam Page, Pentecostal bishop Harry Jackson Jr., Christian apologist Frank Turek and others.
David Benham, whose HGTV network reality show was cancelled before its 2012 release due to the twins’ stance on marriage and sexuality, said claims of discrimination and bigotry against HB 2 supporters are unfounded.
Photo by K. Allan Blume
David and Jason Benham, whose HGTV network reality show was cancelled before its 2012 release due to the twins’ stance on marriage and sexuality, said claims of discrimination and bigotry against HB 2 supporters are unfounded.
“We have rules, common sense, decency and privacy,” Benham said. “These rules are so that we can be safe. This is not forced belief.”
Bishop Jackson added, “This is not a civil rights issue. … It’s one group trying to silence another group.”
Donna Miller, an N.C. resident, shared her account of experiencing a “trauma trigger” after a male entered a female-only bathroom facility where she was present. The young man came into the bathroom and entered a stall across from Miller without closing the door, thus exposing himself as he used the toilet, she said. Her fear of physical vulnerability triggered an acute episode of post-traumatic stress disorder, stemming from a criminal assault she experienced years earlier.
“Any female victim of crime can experience this trauma trigger by seeing a man in female spaces,” Miller said.
Turek said the primary role of government is public safety. “We need to protect millions of people, and with all due compassion to people struggling with their sexual identity,” he said, “opening up bathrooms to everybody does not help them.”
Rockingham County Sherriff Sam Page agreed, “the legislature’s whole intent was to protect the families of North Carolina.”
McCrory, who signed HB 2 into law hours after it passed through the legislature, handed down an executive order related to the bill April 12.
In a statement about the order, McCrory acknowledged “a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy.” He said the executive action would “affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.”
McCrory’s order clarifies a repeated misconception about HB 2, that it requires all businesses to designate bathrooms and changing facilities for use according to the biological sex indicated on a person’s birth certificate.
“In North Carolina,” the document states, “private businesses can set their own rules for their own restroom, locker room and shower facilities, free from government interference.”
McCrory also expanded the state’s equal opportunity employment policy to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.
The governor called on lawmakers to reinstate the right to sue for discrimination in N.C. courts, a provision reserved for federal courts according to the current law.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – BR editorial aide Emily Blake and BR staff writer Liz Tablazon contributed to this story.)