Raleigh, N.C. — House Democrats seeking the repeal of House Bill 2 have filed a proposal to extend civil rights protections to LGBT North Carolinians.
Rep. Chris Sgro, D-Guilford, the only current openly gay member of the General Assembly, said the Equality for All Act would go beyond the reversal of House Bill 2, adding state legal protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status and familial status in education, housing, employment, government services and public accommodations. Nineteen other states have already enacted those protections.
Sgro said most North Carolinians he talks to believe those protections are already in place and are surprised to learn they are not.
"You can still be fired for who you are and who you love in North Carolina. You can still be denied housing if you are a transgender man or woman," he said during a Wednesday morning news conference. "No one should be turned away from a Main Street business or a public facility because of who they were born to be."
House Bill 1078 is meant as a companion to House Bill 946, which would repeal House Bill 2. Sgro says both are necessary to restore the state's reputation.
"The damage done to our state by this body's race to pass House Bill 2 has been terrible to watch, and only this body and Gov. (Pat) McCrory can fix that at this point," Sgro said.
"House Bill 2 was the worst piece of discriminatory legislation that has come out of the General Assembly in my lifetime, and that's saying something," added Rep. Kelly Alexander, D-Mecklenburg, another primary sponsor of the bill. "We've got to stop mollycoddling discrimination, and that's exactly what's going on."
Republican legislative leaders have said they do not intend to repeal House Bill 2, which excludes LGBT people from civil rights protections and prohibits local ordinances that would extend such protections. That means Sgro's measure is unlikely to see the light of day before lawmakers head home later this summer.
Sgro said he filed it anyway because he felt it was necessary to fulfill his legislative oath to protect liberty and justice for all.
"I believe there will be a repeal vote," he said of House Bill 2. "I believe that, with everything that's happened with House Bill 2, that we are in a unique position – despite leadership – to consider a bill like this."