Submitted by Ryan Wilson, Senior Regional Field Organizer
Today, the coalition organizations of TurnOUT! North Carolina (NC), HRC, Equality North Carolina, the ACLU and the Campaign for Southern Equality hosted a “Rally Against Hate” in Raleigh demanding lawmakers repeal HB2, North Carolina’s outrageous and unprecedented anti-LGBTQ law. Leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly have stated that they plan to end this year’s Short Session around June 30, leaving them less than two weeks to repeal HB2.
Following the horrific massacre of 49 LGBTQ and allied people in Orlando, most of whom were Latinx, hundreds of North Carolinians turned out tonight to stand determined to defeat the hate and bigotry that motivated the attack. Every time we see legislation that puts a target on the back of LGBTQ people -- legislation like HB2 -- it sends a signal that LGBTQ people should be treated differently – and worse. If lawmakers adjourn the legislative session without undoing the incredibly dangerous and hateful environment they have created in the state, they will remain complicit in any threats or violence targeting LGBTQ people in North Carolina made in the wake of HB2’s passage.
State Representative Chris Sgro, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina, emceed tonight’s rally. Joining him on stage was JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs, bringing a national perspective to how the Orlando shooting and the passage of HB2 in North Carolina have impacted our movement and our country.
“Every day that HB2 is on the books, the danger for LGBTQ people and the state grows,” said Winterhof. “We cannot allow McCrory’s state-sanctioned discrimination to continue to destroy North Carolina’s reputation, continue to destroy North Carolina’s economy, and continue to ravage the most vulnerable among us.”
“My heart has been so heavy mourning my fellow Latino LGBTQ family following the Orlando tragedy June 12th,” said Joaquin Carcaño, a plaintiff in the ACLU legal challenge to HB2. “My heart aches. My blood boils. For me, as I stand here it is so important to say: I am a Mexican-American, I am a transgender man and I wear these identities so very proudly. Who I am and the work I am a part of has been the best education and privilege I could dream of. Being a part of the HB2 lawsuit alongside the ACLU and Lambda Legal continues to be a lesson in what more can I do? Who is the most vulnerable? Many members of our community have escaped violence – in their homes, within families, partners, workplaces, from strangers and found safety and a life here only to be confronted with state sanctioned legislative violence in return. That is what HB2 is – dehumanizing legislation, an act of violence which seeks to shame our existence.”
Speaking in both English and Spanish, Pastor David Mateo, Associate Pastor of Spanish Ministries at United Church of Chapel Hill, spoke about his dedication to equality for the LGBTQ community.
“As a pastor, I have also witnessed discrimination, marginalization and inequality against the Latino, and all LGBTQ community in this state,” he said. “It is common knowledge that the HB2 law not only violates civil liberties, but also sends a direct message of bigotry to the most vulnerable sectors of society in this state.”
“Como pastor, también he sido testigo de la discriminación, del marginamiento y de la desigualdad hacia los Latinos y a la comunidad LGBTQ en este estado. Es de todos sabido que la ley HB2 no solo atenta contra las libertades civiles, pero también envía un mensaje de intolerancia directo hacia los sectores mas vulnerables de la sociedad en este estado.”
Wasif Qureshi, Imam, Islamic Center of Greensboro, told a story about how he developed a strong partnership with the president of Greensboro Pride when the two groups planned events on the same day and worked together on both events.
He spoke out against anti-Muslim rhetoric and how many seek to divide minority groups when we share so much in common. Observing fasting despite the heat because of the holy month of Ramadan, Imam Qureshi stood strong as an ally of the LGBT community of North Carolina. In closing he said, “I pray during this month of Ramadan that this spirit brings us together, unifies us around the common goal of repealing HB2.”
Candis Cox, a North Carolina resident and transgender advocate, said with determination in her voice as she faced the General Assembly building, “I am not standing out here in the North Carolina heat to ask you or beg you, I'm demanding that you repeal HB2 and to do it now!”
TurnOUT! NC will continue to mobilize thousands of North Carolinians for the full repeal of HB2 until the final day of session. TurnOUT! NC has field organizers based in Asheville, Charlotte and the Triangle area. Additionally, HRC staff are on the ground working with coalition partners across the Tar Heel State. There are daily opportunities to volunteer with weekly phone banks and weekend door-to-door opportunities.
If you live in North Carolina and want to join the efforts to repeal HB2, RSVP for upcoming phonebanks and volunteer opportunities. For more information about our work in North Carolina, contact HRC Associate Regional Field Director Ryan Rowe at Ryan.firstname.lastname@example.org.