North Carolina is catching heat nationwide again over an LGBT rights issue after a few Republican lawmakers filed a bill Tuesday that would restore the state constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The bill is sponsored by some of the House’s most conservative legislators, who often file bills that don’t get a hearing because House GOP leaders don’t support the proposals. But this one is attracting scorn from people across the country who compare it to House Bill 2, which was replaced by the General Assembly last month.
HB2, popularly called the “bathroom bill,” required people to use the public restroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate, among other things.
The marriage bill, House Bill 780, titled the “Uphold Historical Marriage Act,” would direct the state to defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark ruling that made same-sex marriage legal throughout the country. Sponsors argue in the bill language that it’s “clear that laws concerning marriage are for each state to establish and maintain severally and independently.”
A former assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Homeland Security under Barack Obama was one of those critical of the bill, tweeting a message at the NCAA: “Y’all still feeling good about North Carolina’s supposed ‘non-discriminatory environment?’”
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper was critical of the bill, saying “We need more LGBT protections not fewer. The national arm of the Americans for Civil Liberties Union condemned the bill, asking rhetorically, “How’s that ‘nondiscriminatory environment’ in North Carolina working out?”
HB780 is sponsored by Republican Reps. Larry Pittman of Concord, Michael Speciale of New Bern, Carl Ford of Rowan County and Mike Clampitt of Bryson City.
As in the HB2 fight, talk of sporting events being held in the state became a hot topic, attracting sports talk radio host Bob Fescoe, who hosts a morning sports-talk radio show in Kansas City, to weigh in on Twitter.
“You would think North Carolina learned their lesson ... but of course they didn't,” he said.
In addition to losing sporting events hosted by the NCAA and ACC, HB2 prompted companies to take their business elsewhere.
As news of Tuesday’s bill spread to national media outlets, people such as Tim Joyce, a weather forecaster at television station Q13 Fox in Seattle, warned that the state’s reputation for technology innovation could be overshadowed again by legislation seen as discriminatory.
“Really, North Carolina? You're really doing your best to combat my impression of you as a tech hub,” he wrote.