The North Carolina General Assembly returned to work in Raleigh today for a short session and those both for and against anti-LGBT HB2 turned out to have their voices heard.
Around 200 people gathered on the North Carolina State Capitol grounds Monday morning, where speakers against the bill spoke out about its effects on the LGBT community and others. In addition to allowing private businesses to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, it also states that trans people use the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity. It also prevents cities and counties from raising their minimum wage and stops workers from suing for discrimination in state courts.
Gov. McCrory has asked the GA to reconsider this portion of the bill, in his recent executive order.
“I certainly see no harm in making changes to make it very clear that folks have access to the state courts for discrimination claims. As far as an outright repeal, that’s not something we’re taking about right now,” House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters today.
“HB2 compounds the discrimination and marginalization of the transgender community, who already have to fight every day for their survival,” said Joaquin Carcano. Carcano, a transgender man, is one of several people suing over the law, with representation from the ACLU, Equality NC and Lambda Legal. He called for nothing less than full repeal of HB2. “Our privacy and safety matter too. Our right to feel safe and protected in this world does not infringe on anyone else’s right to the same.”
The numbers of protesters grew throughout the day, nearing around a thousand people.
Representatives from the Moral Mondays and Forward Together movements spoke out against the legislation as well, including the head of the state NAACP, Reverend William Barber II.
Barber said HB2 “feeds our children the poisonous brew of racism, classism and homophobia.”
Bishop Toniya Rawls, of the Freedom Center for Social Justice, also called on the NC General Assembly to “kill the bill,” saying it is not really about keeping women and children safe, as claimed.
After the speeches, TurnOut! NC representatives, including Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro and Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, marched petitions to repeal HB2, with over 180,000 signatures, to Gov. Pat McCrory.
— Equality NC (@equalitync) April 25, 2016
Thousands of demonstrators for HB2 were also present, thanking the mostly Republican lawmakers who passed the bill into law.
Protesters also planned a mass sit-in as part of the demonstration from the beginning. They entered the Legislative Building, where they chanted, sang songs and prayed for the repeal of HB2, led by Rev. Barber.
— AngelicaAlvarezABC11 (@AlvarezABC11) April 25, 2016
The News & Observer reports that at around 6:30 p.m. a group of protesters entered House Speaker Tim Moore’s office. When they refused to leave at 6:45 p.m., at least 18 people were arrested.
Other protesters were successful in interrupting lawmakers.
— Heather Waliga (@WaligaABC11) April 25, 2016
More arrests were made when demonstrators refused to leave after the building closed for the night, leading the total of those arrested to rise to over 50 on the day.
Democrats file bill to repeal HB2
Hours before the short session began, four Democrats filed a bill to repeal HB2.
House Bill 946, “An Act to Repeal House Bill 2 of the 2016 Second Extra Session and to Appropriate Funds to the Human Relations Commission,” was sponsored by Representatives Susi Hamilton, Darren Jackson, Grier Martin and Graig Meyer.
— Gloria Rodriguez (@GloriaABC11) April 25, 2016
The chances of it getting very far in the Republican controlled GA responsible for passing HB2 in the first place is slim to none, but it is an important step symbolically, if nothing else.
Martin told reporters that if HB2 were repealed immediately “it would not undo with the swipe of a pen the incredible damage that House Bill 2 has done to our economy. But it would stop the bleeding and put North Carolina back on the path of progress and moving forward.”