Raleigh, N.C. — "Moral Monday" demonstrators have targeted everything from voting rights to teacher pay to unemployment compensation over the past three years. With House Bill 2 making headlines nationwide in recent weeks, the homegrown legislative protest movement has added the controversial state law to its list of targets.
Opponents of House Bill 2, which prohibits discrimination protections for gay and transgender people, among other provisions, rallied on the mall across the street from the Legislative Building on Monday afternoon. Eleven people were arrested inside the building after 5 p.m. and charged with second-degree trespassing and violation of Legislative Building rules, authorities said. All had been released on bond Monday night.
One of those arrested was Rebekah Barber, 22, of Goldsboro, the daughter of state NAACP President Rev. William Barber.
A similar rally and sit-in was staged on April 25, the first day of the 2016 legislative session, when 54 people were charged with trespassing.
William Barber likened the fight over House Bill 2 to past fights for civil rights in this country. He said he and other "Moral Monday" organizers plan to maintain calls for repealing House Bill 2 through the November general election.
"This is about election year politics, trying to drive the electorate," he said.
At the same time, however, William Barber noted that Republican legislators who passed the law are also likely to maintain the spotlight on House Bill 2 through the fall campaign to use it as a wedge issue. In the meantime, Barber is using the bill to ignite those who oppose it.
"This bill is not about bathrooms. It attacks everybody. It attacks low-wage workers, it attacks women, it attacks children, it hurts children, it hurts families, it hurts the LGBT community," he said.
Lee Churchill, who was in the crowd at Monday's rally, said she does not like everything in House Bill 2, noting it needs some "tweaking", but said she stands behind restrictions on restroom use for transgender people.
"I, as a lady, have to accept gentlemen in the ladies room or in the shower room with me. That's discriminating against me and I don't think that is right," Churchill said. "If you have unisex restrooms added, then everyone is taken care of."