The Hillsborough Town Board unanimously approved a resolution affirming the dignity of all people and seeking the repeal of House Bill 2, during a meeting April 11.
The board also authorized the town attorney to explore litigation seeking repeal of the legislation. Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Orange County governments have also approved resolutions opposing the controversial law.
The Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act was approved by the N.C. General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory on March 23.
The law is best known for requiring people to use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate, which stops transgender people from using the bathroom of their gender identity. It also sets statewide nondiscrimination policies for employment and public accommodations; the policies don’t include protections for gay or transgender people.
It also forbids cities and counties from making rules that differ from state law on discrimination and bathroom issues, as well as on minimum wage and other labor-related topics. Finally, it says North Carolinians may no longer file discrimination lawsuits in state courts – they may only use the more restrictive federal court.
In Hillsborough, the mayor and board noted the state legislation removes protection and recourse for discrimination in employment and public accommodations, erodes the authority of local government and is damaging North Carolina’s reputation and economy. The only other state that does not allow civil action for claims of discrimination in employment is Mississippi.
Mayor Tom Stevens said state leaders’ defense of the legislation includes echoes of the assertions of politicians Joseph McCarthy and George Wallace during the Cold War and civil rights movement by inflaming fear without evidence. The pretense of passing the legislation to protect women and children from a virtually nonexistent problem in bathrooms trivializes real issues, the mayor said.
“It is not a bathroom bill,” board member Jenn Weaver stated. “It is an incredible intrusion into local control. The idea that our workers would have no recourse in state court is unconscionable.”
The state legislation prohibits counties and cities from including protections for wages, working conditions or discrimination in local ordinances or contracts.
“Wresting control from the local governments makes a mockery of our system,” board member Kathleen Ferguson said. “This is Jim Crow. It just has a little bit of a different costume to it. Jim Crow was not acceptable then. It is not acceptable now.”
The resolution reads, in part:
We, the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners, reaffirm our belief in the dignity of all people, our support for protecting and advancing the constitutional rights and equitable treatment of all residents, and our opposition to discrimination and prejudice of all kinds.
We urge the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal House Bill 2with deliberate speed.
We thank and encourage all Hillsborough citizens and businesses that exemplify the practice of inclusive welcome to all.