WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – “We won’t do HB2, Winston-Salem works together,” was the chant echoing through downtown Winston-Salem Friday night, as people gathered outside city hall to speak out against House Bill 2.
The bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory Wednesday night, is short titled the “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act” and restricts people in North Carolina to using public restrooms, locker rooms and showers strictly based off of their “biological sex.” In other words, the gender listed on their birth certificate.
“It is a measure that just takes away the dignity of our transgender community,” said Madeline Coffey, who identified with the Wake Forest LGBTQ Center.
In a show of support of those in the Winston-Salem LGBTQ community, over a hundred people showed up for the rally.
“This is an area where many students live and where many citizens who identify as LGBT live,” Coffey added.
Coffey went on to speak on behalf of transgender people, saying many of them are not identifiable as transgender.
“It’s unfair to ask them to use a restroom with a gender identity that they do not identify with,” she said.
“It happened so quickly, that it may have taken people by surprise,” said Richard Caban Cubero, an organizer of the event, of the bill.
“This is not only a show of solidarity and support for trans individuals in this community,” he said. “But it’s a call to city council to, how are you going to stand on this issue?”
Council Member Dan Besse was on hand for the rally, gauging peoples’ feelings and lending his own.
Besse told FOX8 he believes legislators were in Raleigh to deal with a Charlotte bathroom and privacy issue, “and they ended up passing sweeping legislation, restricting on a statewide basis, the opportunities for local government to try to deal with discrimination on a broad number of fronts.”
Besse continued, saying he is “particularly concerned that we’re not going to be able to use tools anymore, to address discrimination in employment or public accommodations.”
Besse added that the city had ordinances in place which provided encouragement to involve minority and woman-owned businesses while contracting to do work for the city; stressing that provisions in the law will impact citizens of all races, genders, religions and national origins.
“It’s all been revoked, all of that authority,” Besse said.
In speaking with FOX8 on Thursday, Gov. McCrory said — in part — that the law ensure(s) there will be no Government overreach at the local or state level, interfering on basic etiquette and privacy rights of individuals.
“We can’t change from those norms, basic norms that have been acceptable to society for generations,” McCrory said. “It’s my job as governor to ensure that we protect that basic expectation of privacy, in a most private moment in each individual’s lives.”
Local leaders have also expressed concerns about how HB2 will affect the economy on a local and state level.
“I think there is a fear that it is going to hurt us when it comes to economic development if we are not a welcoming state,” Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan said Thursday.
“The verdict is in and it’s not pretty for our state. It’s clear that the bill Governor McCrory signed includes the most sweeping anti-LGBT provisions in the nation, allows North Carolinians to be discriminated against in the workplace, and undermines local leaders statewide,” Cooper for NC spokesman Ford Porter said in a press release Thursday. “As the national business community weighs in, it’s also evident that Governor McCrory’s support of this extreme social legislation will cost our state high-paying jobs. These are simply the wrong priorities.”