GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The Greenville City Council made a big statement as they passed a resolution to oppose House Bill 2, with only Councilman P.J. Connelly who opposed.
During their Monday meeting, the council addressed whether HB2 infringed on local government’s rights to govern their communities. Councilman Calvin Mercer said it is a trend that is alarming.
“They have done this many times before, it is an unhealthy pattern,” he said.
The controversial bill eliminated local government’s rights to set their minimum wage and also repealed Charlotte’s transgender ordinance while also establishing sweeping discrimination protection laws. However, some argued those protections didn’t including religion or sexual orientation, making it legally to be fired or discriminated against for being gay.
Those against HB2 also argued that to sue your employer in the state, you now had to go to federal courts, as established in the bill.
“Our legislature has wrongly used the law to segregate our trans and gay brothers and sisters, and to set them up for further abuse,” said former Councilwoman Marion Blackburn, who urged the council to send a strong message to lawmakers in Raleigh.
Those in support of HB2 asked the council to remain in line with state law.
“I don’t want to be in the bathroom with a transgender, or someone who is queer,” said James Harris. “I don’t want to be around them because I don’t like them.”
Nearly one hundred people gathered to protest HB2 before the council meeting even began. After the vote, they were somewhat disappointed because the council had only voted to oppose it, not ask for HB2 to be repealed.
“We’re just like everyone else,” said Lara Nazario, a transgender woman. “We just had to take a different set of steps to be who we are.”
Nazario said since the bill passed, there have been witch hunts in the state to find, and hurt, members of the trans community. She said the state should be passing more laws to protect them, not hurt them.
However, others disagreed.
“When he takes that fist of his and strikes a man across the nose, that man has a right to say your rights end where my rights begin,” said Tim Creole.
Greenville Mayor Pro-Tem Kandie Smith said lawmakers shouldn’t have rushed this legislation. She wanted them held to the same standards she holds herself to.
“If I sit here on the council and say we need to be transparent, then I expect those people who represent me at the state level to be transparent as well,” she said.
Greenville now joins Nags Head, Chapel Hill, Greensboro and Carrboro in opposing HB2.