'Bathroom bill' backers rally at Capitol

Posted April 11

— Hundreds of people who support a new state discrimination law made their position known Monday in a rally outside the State Capitol.

House Bill 2, which was signed into law last month, prohibits transgender people from using public restrooms that correspond to the gender with which they identify. It also created a statewide anti-discrimination standard for employment and public accommodations that excludes gays, lesbians and transgenders and blocks cities and counties from extending protections to the LGBT community.

The law has met with nationwide ridicule and withering criticism from business executives and performers in recent weeks. On Monday, for example, the global community of 1,700 Certified B Corporations said it would move its annual meetings this fall out of the state.

Wake County Commissioner John Burns also said during a work session that, because of the law, the county is no longer "in the hunt" for a company expansion that would have created hundreds of jobs, and 15 to 18 conventions that are booked for Raleigh "are teetering on the edge of withdrawing," which could cost as much as $24 million in lost economic impact.

"We’ve had people contacting our visitors bureau and economic development offices asking whether the people they’re going to send here will be safe," Burns said. "That’s not the right message for us to be sending the rest of the world. That’s not the kind of question we want to be answering."

Yet, House Bill 2 backers came out in droves on the south lawn of the Capitol to show that not everyone is opposed to the law.

Religious leaders and clergy from around the state often invoked prayer during the rally and praised Gov. Pat McCrory and the legislature for passing what they call a common-sense law that protects women and children from the possibility of sexual predators lurking in a public restroom.

"We want (lawmakers) to understand that there's more for them than is against them," said Rev. Ron Baity, pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.

"I believe most North Carolinians support state lawmakers in what they did. It's unfortunate that Hollywood celebrities, corporations and sports groups fail to really understand what’s in the bill," said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina. "That smear campaign has resulted in unfounded criticisms of the law."

Across the street, opponents of the law held a smaller counter-protest, calling House Bill 2 a "hate law" and a smokescreen for limiting the ability of workers to file discrimination lawsuits in the state.

"They are using religion as a platform for their bigotry and their hatred," said Shane Thrapp of Triangle Families Against HB2.

"They're over there stoking the hate and fear of homosexuals in the bathroom," Eric Ellenberg said. "That's the tip of the iceberg. This law is about labor discrimination. The rest of the bill robs you and me of any rights under the law to challenge an unjust firing from your job."

There was a brief confrontation between the two groups, whose only point of agreement is that the issue is one of morality.

"It is a biblical principle that we are endorsing, that when God created us, he did not make mistakes. He created us male and female," Baity said.

Opponents question how religious leaders can encourage their congregations to welcome outcasts with open arms while actively encouraging a law that targets a minority group.

"It's incredibly frustrating. Jesus didn't go through his life and ministry singling out the outcasts and making them feel more like outcasts," said Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network. "So here we have people who claim to be representing Jesus who are making outcasts feel even more like outcasts."

"Jesus did reach out to the outcasts, but he required those who would come to him to come to him with repentance. He required them to live according to God's commands," Creech said. "Real compassion and tolerance is standing up for what's right, and that's what we're doing here. We're standing up for what's right."

Civil rights groups and others opposed to the law are threatening to hold civil disobedience demonstrations, protests and other direct actions if lawmakers do not repeal the measure by next Thursday.


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  • John Snow Apr 13, 12:36 p.m.
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    Who needs a time machine? If you want to travel back in time, just head south. The further you go, the further back in time you travel. It's like 1950 here.

  • Karen Grigg Apr 13, 11:29 a.m.
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    Read it as "HOMOSEXUAL". Now, my auto-correct is vexing me. Carry on- ignore me! :-)

  • Karen Grigg Apr 13, 11:28 a.m.
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    Oops- misread the quote, sorry. I read it initially as "deviant heterosexual male." I need a new prescription for glasses, I guess. Is there no "delete" option here?

  • Karen Grigg Apr 13, 11:26 a.m.
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    ""The true concern is that a deviant heterosexual male could say he identifies as a woman and enter, and remain in, a woman's locker room for the sole purpose of observing of-age, and underage, women/girls. There would be no legal recourse to remove this person."
    Let me get this straight- why would a deviant homosexual man go stare at WOMEN in the ladies room? Wouldn't that make him a deviant STRAIGHT man? And someone would still be able to be arrested if they are peeping or molesting.

  • Chance Loria Apr 12, 10:53 p.m.
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    Go crawl back under your rock!

  • John Heida Apr 12, 9:15 p.m.
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    .... Brendan, you're wrong... it's already happening... a normal guy just walked into a Seattle Pool changing room, and said he was a woman, ... and started changing.


    wait until it catches on, and it happens 5 or 10 times a day. Believe me, there are crazies out there... ive seen people singing at Jingle Bells at the top of their lungs in a grocery store, before they were taken away in the white van.

  • Chris Cole Apr 12, 2:11 p.m.
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    Big difference between cross dressers and transgenders.

  • Fanny Chmelar Apr 12, 12:55 p.m.
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    Oh, my. Someone thinks this law addresses sexual predators. Next up: a bridge they're going to sell ya at a great price.

    You folks got bamboozled but don't even know it... yet. You'll catch on eventually.

  • Matt Nickeson Apr 12, 11:05 a.m.
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    The fact that I state an argument does not mean that it is mine. My point was simply to state some people's concerns. There is this amazing thing where if we, collectively, discuss issues in a reasonable and open way that agreement can be made to satisfy all parties. This is called understanding and compromise. I know that in the current environment of public discourse this has given way to extreme polarization by ideology and rampant ad hominem attacks against others who are seen as the enemy. Those who disagree with you are not your enemy. Calling someone a name does nothing to progress the discourse. Maybe everyone should take a break and listen. Maybe then they would realize that most people opposing HB2 aren't liberal nut jobs and those in favor are to all zealots. I'm sure someone will attack me on this, I just wish people would stop dehumanizing those they disagree with and maybe just listen a little more.

  • Heather Bank Apr 12, 10:23 a.m.
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    Women should be able to go in a bathroom without men in there-- it's called safety -- Being a man you won't understand