Dozens rally at Executive Mansion in support of HB2

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The state is getting a significant amount of negative attention across the country because of House Bill 2, but supporters of it wanted to make sure Gov. Pat McCrory (R) knew they’re standing by him.

More than a hundred people came together Thursday night to pray and support the governor for what they say is a common sense law, but opponents point out there’s more to House Bill 2 than just the impacts on the LGBT community.

Regina Cassidy got emotional as she stood outside the Executive Mansion praying with the community.

“I am the mother of a gay child. I love my daughter. We have a great relationship. We accept her feelings on being gay. We accept her partner. But, in this particular case we feel attacked,” said Cassidy.

She worried about her safety in bathrooms because she travels to Charlotte sometimes for work.

House Bill 2 passed in response to an ordinance in Charlotte that allowed people to choose a restroom based on their gender identity. While it establishes statewide policies on discrimination, it does not carve out protections against discrimination based on sexual identity.

“It was scary to me to know that I might have to stop going to Charlotte at first. So, I was very happy that there wasn’t going to be an ordinance that I would have to worry about where I needed to go, that the state said I could be safe,” said Cassidy. “And, I just hope that we can come together and do something that would work for all of us.”

But, there are additional impacts of House Bill 2 that go beyond use of restrooms.

“I think most North Carolinians are unaware that this law affects everybody,” said Laura Noble, an attorney in Chapel Hill who specializes in employment law.

She points out HB2 takes away the ability for people to pursue claims in a state court against their employers if they’re fired based on their age, gender or another discriminatory reason.

“In other words, it’s a policy but we’re not going to put any enforcement into it,” Noble said.

You can still file a claim in federal court, but Noble points out there’s a backlog of cases and they can be more expensive to pursue. Additionally, a person must file a claim in federal court within 180 days of termination unlike in a state court where someone has three years.

“So, we’re sort of stating to the nation, we don’t have the same commitment to equal employment in the work place that other states do,” said Noble.

Durham County Commissioner Fred Foster Jr. is concerned about the impacts on wages.

HB2 does not affect what cities and counties pay their own employees, but he points out it can affect contracts with companies looking to do work in a community.

“We’re talking about outside vendors, people that come into this city or county and want to contract with us. That’s what that bill does. And, it prevents any type of negotiation around salaries,” he said.

The supporters of HB2 held simultaneous prayer vigils in Fayetteville, New Bern and Greenville. They’re planning more of these events in other cities next Thursday.

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