HB2 and the Pulse Massacre

Politicians, activists see a connection

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In the light from more than a thousand candles, Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts denounced Governor Pat McCrory and “Hate Bill 2” at a vigil for Orlando on June 13. Attendees of the vigil filled both parking lots and both balconies of the two-story Bar at 316, a venue that holds a special place in the hearts of Charlotte’s LGBT population.

Roberts is not the only one to link the anti-LGBT legislation with the tragic massacre that killed 49 and injured dozens more.

“The only way that we’re going to stop more attacks like [Orlando] is to stop having bad policy like HB2, stop having negligent rhetoric like we had around it and combat homophobia and trans-phobia in every walk of life,” Rep. Chris Sgro (D-Guilford) told WRAL.

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Raleigh News & Observer’s editorial board agreed wholeheartedly, writing, “Now, after the tragedy in Orlando, HB2 looks even more like a gratuitous, cruel slap at gays, lesbians and transgender people. It is all the more embarrassing to North Carolina than it was – and it was plenty embarrassing.”

Despite the objections of HB2 opponents, June 14 found a very different kind of gathering. In Raleigh, N.C., dozens of ministers gathered with lawmakers to pray and reaffirm their commitment to the controversial law. The faith leaders in attendance were largely Latino, an ironic fact considering that most of the victims of the Pulse Orlando shooting were Latino gay men.

Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President JoDee Winterhof condemned this gathering, saying in a statement, “Their callous disregard for the victims and loved ones devastated by this heartbreaking tragedy is disgusting and indefensible. Only a deep-seated hatred could drive a decision to attack a community while it is in mourning.”

This mourning took another note on June 15 in Raleigh, where a weekly air-horn protest outside the Executive Mansion usually takes place. This week, however, protesters against HB2 retired their air-horns and instead honored Pulse victims by 49 drum-beats, one for each person killed in the attack.

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Will Goodyear, one drummer from the demonstration, told ABC 11, “the tragedy in Orlando certainly upped the stakes of people needing to get out here and make some noise.”

Signs held by the mourning activists read, “Bigotry Kills.”

In the face of violence and legal tribulations, LGBT advocates are committed to making a change. In the midst of rumors of another forthcoming “legislative sneak attack” by North Carolina lawmakers, the Human Rights Campaign reports statements of conviction from LGBT activists.

“This latest effort to perpetuate the harm that HB2 is wreaking on all North Carolinians is legislative malpractice, pure and simple,” Sgro said.

Sgro, along with HRC President Chad Griffin and National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling, contacted major business leaders that have opposed HB2. The activists urged more than 200 businesses to continue opposing the legislation until a state-wide non-discrimination ordinance replaces HB2.

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