Crowds of people from across North Carolina gathered April 25 on the open lawn outside the state’s legislative offices in Raleigh to show support for House Bill 2 (HB 2), also called the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. Speakers at the Halifax Mall rally denounced so-called “preposterous” allegations against the new law, which claim HB 2 is discriminatory, unprecedented, anti-Christian and responsible for economic backlash against the state.
The event coincided with the opening day of the legislature’s 2016 short session.
With roaring applause, approximately 4,800 demonstrators thanked state leaders who sponsored and voted for HB 2, despite harsh criticism leveled at the bill from pro-LGBT activist groups, corporations, music artists, the White House and United Kingdom.
Photo by K. Allan Blume
Crowds of people from across North Carolina gathered April 25 on the open lawn outside the state’s legislative offices in Raleigh to show support for House Bill 2 (HB 2), also called the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act.
Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill March 23 to preempt a local ordinance passed by the Charlotte City Council that would have opened restrooms to people based on the gender identity of their choice. HB 2 overturned that policy by requiring 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.
Bill supporters said the Charlotte ordinance could have allowed sexual predators to exploit the non-discrimination policy, endangering women and children, and forced business owners to comply with behaviors contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Rep. Dan Bishop, one of the bill’s primary sponsors, said it “restored long-standing customary bathroom policy for government facilities and removed mandates that the city of Charlotte attempted to impose on over 20,000 businesses for a radically new management policy for bathrooms and private facilities.”
Bishop rejected the widespread notion that HB 2 is discriminatory, saying that idea comes from “a new form of activism that is virulent and dangerous.” He described backlash against the bill as a “dishonest, media-fueled, ideological carpet bombing.”
John Rustin, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, agreed. “Opponents of House Bill 2 have claimed that [it] is ‘the most egregious, sweeping, hate-filled, anti-LGBT legislation in this country’s history,’” he said. “This is absolutely preposterous. … [fueling] a level of hysteria and deception that I have not seen in 25 years of work in the public policy arena.”
Rustin continued, “Far from making some radical departure from the national norm, as they claim, this bill simply establishes a common sense statewide bathroom privacy and safety law … the standards set in HB 2 are practically identical to the standards that currently exist in federal law and the standards that exist in a majority of states across the nation.”
Some opponents cite religious reasons for overturning the law, according to Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
Photo by K. Allan Blume
Rep. Dan Bishop rejected the widespread notion that HB 2 is discriminatory, saying that idea comes from “a new form of activism that is virulent and dangerous.”
Creech read aloud an email he received with the subject line, “Sad and outraged,” from a former colleague. The message said, “Under any theological interpretation I fail to see how this becomes the basis on which HB 2 is written, enacted and signed: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’”
He responded, “I, too, am sad and outraged – sad and outraged that you would interpret the greatest commandment to mean that women and young girls should be forced to undress or shower in the presence of men, denying their fundamental right to privacy. … I am sad and outraged that you would think that somehow this is neighborly love.”
Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte and U.S. congressional candidate, called down allegations that HB 2 is responsible for the economic backlash against the state from large corporations.
Online payment company PayPal announced April 5 that it is withdrawing plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte, allegedly costing the city hundreds of jobs. CEO Dan Schulman said the new law “invalidates protections” of LGBT rights in a statement on the company website.
Dozens of other large corporations – including Google, Bank of America and Apple – have openly criticized HB 2 or taken steps to restrict business activity in the state.
“When people ask me, ‘What do you think about the economic challenges being faced as a result of this?’” Harris said, “I’m quick to point out, any economic loss for North Carolina due to this issue must be placed squarely at the feet of Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and the members of the Charlotte City Council who voted for [the sexual orientation and gender identity ordinance] in the beginning.”
Major retail chain Target announced a new bathroom policy April 19 that welcomes “transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.”
Multiple rally speakers, including Concerned Women for America CEO and president Penny Young Nance, encouraged attendees to pledge a boycott against the company, sponsored by the American Family Association, which has received more than 750,000 signatures.
“We’re not afraid of transgender people," said Nance. "We’re afraid of the sexual predators who will prey on the weak and defenseless.”
Rallies opposing HB 2 took place only blocks away in downtown Raleigh, which ended in 54 arrests after protestors interrupted proceedings in the House chamber. The Human Rights Campaign held a press conference showcasing 26 boxes of petitions against the new law, which they presented to the state Capitol.
The governor issued a press release later that evening which said alleged petitions only filled two of the boxes and the overwhelming majority of signatures were from out-of-state.
In addition to public outcry against the bill, HB 2 now faces strong opposition in both the judicial and legislative branches of government. A federal lawsuit was filed against the bill only days after it was passed for “singling out LGBT people for disfavored treatment.”
Democratic House members Darren Jackson, Grier Martin, Graig Meyer and Susi Hamilton introduced legislation (HB 946) that threatens a wholesale repeal of the law just hours before the pro-HB 2 rally in downtown Raleigh.
Their efforts contrasted the call issued by rally organizer and president of Return America, Ron Baity, who pleaded with lawmakers, “Stay the course!”