"Enough is enough," Gergen said in his address on Saturday, which can be viewed above. "For those of us who have stayed on the sidelines, it is time to stand up and be counted. It is time to raise our voices against this darkness."
Gergen, who served as an adviser under four U.S. presidents, is a native of North Carolina. He said many North Carolinians were proud to talk about their home state "until just a few years ago."
"Then suddenly, without warning, dark clouds arrived," Gergen said. "The moderation that characterized our state -- the belief among Republicans and Democrats that we are all in this together -- gave way to a new, angrier, extremist politics."
Gergen urged graduates to take action against the law.
"May I plead with you: Please don't stay on the sidelines as America struggles to find the best path forward," he said. "Come off the bench and get into the arena."
HB 2 established a statewide anti-discrimination policy, banning employers and businesses from discriminating against employees or customers based on their race, color, country of origin, religion, age or “biological sex.” But it offers no protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and prevents local governments from passing any nondiscrimination policy that goes beyond the statewide standard.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) is facing major backlash for signing HB 2 into law, and the state has lost millions of dollars in business. Many events have been canceled as a result of the legislation -- including performances by Bruce Sprinsteen, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas and Pearl Jam -- putting a strain on North Carolina's tourism industry.