Philadelphia — Education and economic opportunity are longtime planks in the Democratic Party platform, but the fight over transgender rights that has been raging in North Carolina for months has now entered the national political fray.
North Carolina's House Bill 2, which excludes gay and transgender people from anti-discrimination protections and requires transgender people to use bathrooms in schools and other public buildings that correspond to their birth gender, has affected both the Democratic and Republican platforms adopted their respective conventions.
While the Democrats espouse equality for gay and transgender people, the GOP took positions opposing same-sex marriage and the Obama administration's stance that Title IX gender-equity
"Especially as an LGBT delegate for Hillary from North Carolina, I think this is the most important election in my lifetime," said state Rep. Chris Sgro, D-Guilford, the only openly gay member of the North Carolina General Assembly.
Sgro, who also heads LGBT advocacy group Equality North Carolina, said he sees House Bill 2 and similar legislation elsewhere as a human rights fight from the presidency down to state and local politics.
"We've seen this really anti-transgender rhetoric now across the country coming out of the GOP platform. That's why we have to work so hard to defeat it in North Carolina, and that's why (Gov.) Pat McCrory has got to go come November," Sgro said.
Janice Covington Allison, a transgender delegate from Charlotte, said she takes it personally when McCrory and other Republicans defend the law as common-sense legislation to protect privacy and security in public restrooms.
"If I complied, which I don't, if I used the men's room, I'd probably be dead meat in a week," Allison said.
"The governor is holding fast on HB2. I don't know whether it's pride or something else. It may be ignorance," she said. "He said the transgender people are nothing more than little girls wanting to be little boys and little boys wanting to be little girls."
McCrory on Tuesday blamed "the political left" for the controversy over House Bill 2, which has led to the NBA moving the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, entertainers to cancel concerts and companies to drop plans to expand in the state.
"HB2 has put a sore spot on the state of North Carolina, and we know that, as a delegation, we have to work harder than ever to send a message to the national level that we are not this," Sgro said.