Pro-, Anti-H.B.2 rallies held at State Capitol

Annalise Todd, 9, of Raleigh, holds a sign during a rally in support of House Bill 2 on the State Capital grounds on Monday, April 11, 2016. Hundreds of people gathered to listen to speakers and offer their support for the bill which requires people to use the bathroom of their biological gender rather than the gender they identify as. (Madeline Gray/North State Journal)

Annalise Todd, 9, of Raleigh, holds a sign during a rally in support of House Bill 2 on the State Capital grounds on Monday, April 11, 2016.  (Madeline Gray/North State Journal)

RALEIGH – A rally in support of House Bill 2, the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, organized by the Christian Action League of NC and Return America, along with other social conservative groups, was held at noon Monday on the state capitol grounds.

The rally was met by a counter-protest organized by Tringle Families Against H.B.2.

House Bill 2 was passed in a special session and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory last month,  intended to override a Charlotte City Council ordinance that added “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the city’s anti-discrimination protections and would have outlawed discriminating between males and females even when it came to admittance to restrooms, locker rooms and changing rooms.  The rules would have applied to government facilities as well as private businesses.

The ensuing state legislation clarified the state’s anti-discrimination policies to include those “on account of race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex or handicap by employers which regularly employ 15 or more employees.”

Permits were obtained from the city of Raleigh for both events held Monday, according to which the pro-H.B. 2 rally expected approximately 500 attendees, and the related anti-H.B. 2 protest expecting between 50-100 attendees.

State Capitol Police estimated at least 700 were in attendance for the pro-H.B.2 rally, while the counter-protest located opposite the state capitol grounds on Salisbury Street numbered approximately 100.

Rally-goers heard from North Carolina sheriffs, pastors, and religious freedom activists as they were met with opposing chants from the counter-protesters.

“The bill that passed and the one the governor signed, H.B. 2, overturned an egregious Charlotte ordinance and restored basic expectations of privacy people have when using the restroom. The bill also provides that private businesses can make their own decisions regarding accommodations and services and not be forced by a city ordinance to do certain things that could be detrimental to their business. It’s unfortunate this common sense measure has been so grossly misrepresented and maligned,” said the executive director of the Christian Action League, Dr. Mark Creech.

“I’m here to support common sense legislation,” said H.B. 2 supporter Mike McDaniel of Lexington, N.C., adding that special accommodation such as the Charlotte ordinance “opens the door for a lot of different problems.”

Regarding the public opposition of businesses to H.B. 2, McDaniel said, “That’s free enterprise, and that’s their right to do that, but it’s also our right not to support those businesses.”

Eric Ellenburg of Raleigh, center, leads a chant during a protest against House Bill 2 near the State Capitol grounds on Monday, April 11, 2016 in Raleigh. (Christine T. Nguyen/North State Journal)

Eric Ellenburg of Raleigh, center, leads a chant during a protest against House Bill 2 near the State Capitol grounds on Monday, April 11, 2016 in Raleigh. (Christine T. Nguyen/North State Journal)

Attending the counter-protest, Linda Hamburger of Raleigh thinks H.B. 2 is “a bill that discriminates against people for things they cannot change about themselves.”

“The law was written in about 12 hours or one day.  If you’re going to do something like that, that has such a large impact on so many people, at least do it thoughtfully; not off the top of your head,” Hamburger said.

“I think [H.B. 2] will be declared unconstitutional because it’s clearly a discriminatory bill,” Hamburger added.

H.B. 2 supporters Melinda and Carletta of the Raleigh area feel the “governor and General Assembly have done the right thing for North Carolina.”  Both declined to provide their last names for this story.

“There has always been a man’s bathroom and a woman’s bathroom,” said Melinda.

“We’re not against civil rights.  We just want everyone to have rights,” Melinda said referring to the rights of individuals and business owners.

In reference to those businesses that wish to accommodate anyone and everyone, Melinda said, “A third bathroom solves it!”

“Roy Cooper needs to do his job for the State of North Carolina and he has refused to do it. I don’t see how anyone can support him,” Carletta said, referring to the attorney general’s refusal to defend the state against lawsuits filed in response to H.B. 2 by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, and Equality NC.

McCrory has said he is willing to consider minor adjustments to the bill.

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