RALEIGH, N.C. — This year’s incarnation of the annual Day of Advocacy organized by Equality NC will enliven the North Carolina General Assembly this Feb. 22. The cause of the 2017 demonstration is the same as last year’s; activists both LGBTQ and ally will join together to demand the repeal of House Bill 2 (HB2). But this time, the organizations also plan to fight for state-wide non-discrimination protections that include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Joining Equality NC in this fight is the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the national organization that has played a major part in the protests against the discriminatory legislation.
“Equality North Carolina’s Day of Advocacy will be a great opportunity to play a key role in bringing awareness to lawmakers and their staff about the need for repeal of HB2 and legislation that affect the LGBTQ community in North Carolina,” wrote HRC field director Marty Rouse in an email. “Republican lawmakers have failed to hold up their end of the deal to repeal HB2.”
The deal referred to was brokered by newly-elected Governor Roy Cooper in early January. In accordance with the agreement, the Charlotte City Council repealed its non-discrimination ordinance, said to trigger HB2’s inception. However, the General Assembly failed to repeal the law.
Now, two companion bills have been introduced in the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives to fully repeal the law and replace it with state-wide non-discrimination protections. But proponents of the repeal bills admit that passage is unlikely; so Gov. Cooper has announced another attempt to compromise with the conservative legislators.
In addition to repealing HB2 in full, Gov. Cooper’s proposal includes tougher penalties on sexual assault, and 30 days’ notice to the Legislature before local governments enact non-discrimination ordinances. LGBTQ advocates say that the deal would validate the “bathroom safety” defense of HB2, and signals little hope of LGBTQ protection against discrimination.
“No member of the LBGT community is a risk to public safety in a public restroom or anywhere else, and that conversation is, frankly, a distraction from the real issue,” Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro said in a press conference.
Despite this controversial proposal, HRC and Equality NC are determined to go right to the source on the Day of Advocacy. By registering, the organization will pair demonstrators with others from their areas and send them directly to the offices of their representatives.
“Thank your legislators, or hold them accountable, for the votes they took and will take,” reads the Equality NC registration site. “Your participation will not only raise our voices at the North Carolina General Assembly, but it will also equip fair-minded folks just like you with the skills and tools necessary to advocate for LGBTQ Equality in your local communities.”
If advocates wish to attend but face financial difficulties, the Connie Spry Fund may offer assistance for transportation and lodging costs. The meeting place for the event is the North Carolina History Museum at 5 E. Edenton Street in Raleigh.