The Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP and a leading voice on civil rights, is calling for a national economic boycott of his state due in part to its General Assembly’s failure to repeal the anti-LGBTQ law known as HB2.
“We did it in South Carolina when they raised the Confederate flag,” he said. “We must do it, we believe, as this new legislature is trying to raise a new Confederacy, in policy, right here in North Carolina.”
Barber said Thursday that his chapter would draft a letter to the national board of the NAACP later this month and ask for a boycott.
The General Assembly spent more than nine hours meeting in a special session on Wednesday to consider repealing HB2, which bars cities and localities from enacting anti-discrimination policies that protect people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It also prevents schools from allowing transgender students to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity rather than the gender assigned to them at birth.
Although many people on both sides of the aisle were hopeful that the controversial law ― which has cost the state millions in lost revenue ― would finally be gone, it remains on the books. Democrats expected the Republican majority to present a clean repeal bill. Instead, however, Republicans added an extra provision barring localities from making changes to ordinances regarding employment and public accommodations for six months.
In other words, HB2 would essentially have remained in place for at least six more months.
Barber emphasized that the fight over HB2 is about more than bathrooms. The law also keeps cities and localities from setting minimum wage standards for private employers, for example.
“We’re not supposed to pass unjust laws that hurt the poor, and hurt children, and hurt women. It’s wrong,” Barber said.
Barber is also taking aim at the GOP-controlled legislature’s last-minute maneuvering to strip Gov.-elect Roy Cooper (D) of power when he takes over for Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in the new year. One of the bills reduces the governor’s power over the state Board of Elections and makes it harder for the panel to take action ― a move that could curtail voting rights.
The North Carolina NAACP said its boycott proposal will be based on a full repeal of the Board of Elections bill, a full repeal of HB2 and a fair and constitutional redrawing of the state’s legislative districts.
North Carolina has already been facing a bit of a national boycott since McCrory signed HB2 in March. The NBA pulled its All-Star Game from the state, PayPal canceled plans to add 400 jobs there, and numerous other business and individuals decided not to expand to or hold events in North Carolina.
Cooper’s spokesman did not return a request for comment on a possible boycott.
Republicans in North Carolina have blamed Charlotte for HB2, saying they had to pass the law after the city expanded its nondiscrimination ordinance to include protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
In what was supposed to be a compromise deal, Charlotte agreed to rescind its ordinance this week ― and in return, McCrory agreed to call the legislature back for a special session to take up the repeal of HB2.
But on Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on what would repeal would look like, with some members of the GOP caucus reportedly against any repeal. The General Assembly adjourned for the year with no action.
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