HB2 puts Charlotte on front line of LGBT battle
Posted October 28
Charlotte, N.C. — More than two centuries after the Mecklenburg Resolves were signed near what is now the corner of Trade and Tryon streets in Charlotte, firing the spirit of independence in the American colonies, the Queen City fired the first shots in a nationwide war over transgender rights.
State lawmakers hurriedly drafted and passed House Bill 2 in response to a Charlotte ordinance requiring businesses to allow transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their choice. The state law nullified that ordinance but also established a statewide nondiscrimination policy that excluded the LGBT community and barred cities and counties from extending protections to them.
Since then, North Carolina has been vilified by business leaders, entertainers and organizations, which have canceled business expansions and concerts and moved conventions and sporting events outside the state. Just this week, a real estate research firm shifted a 730-job operation from Charlotte to Richmond, Va. The federal government even sued the state over the law.
"They're punishing the whole community," Charlotte resident David Rice said.
Rice supports House Bill 2, calling restricting bathroom access a privacy issue.
"Everyone has a right to privacy. That's the basis of our country," he said.
Khuram Bashir, a Pakistani immigrant who now operates a food truck, agrees with Rice that House Bill 2 is necessary.
"You're going to have peepers," Bashir said. "I think it's going to bring issues, especially for our youth, especially for our young girls, in junior high, high school and colleges."
But one of Bashir's customers called the state law a piece of legislation born of ignorance.
"If you really interact with a cross-section of people, then you realize we're all the same," Kenya Templeton said. "We all have to pull up our pants. We all have to use the bathroom."
Robert Ryals, an entrepreneurial historian who leads tours of Charlotte's Liberty Walk, said the modern law has him up in arms.
"I am firmly in belief that this was a bad idea from the very beginning," Ryals said, calling for a repeal of House Bill 2.
Some Charlotte voters said they think the election will be a referendum on Republican Gov. Pat McCrory for his support of House Bill 2. Polls show the former Charlotte mayor is in a tight race with Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, who has called the law unconstitutional.
"I think the bill is harmful to Charlotte's bottom line," resident Alexia Walker said. "I think Charlotte's bottom line is it wants to be a growing, prosperous city, and this bill stands in our way."