Wake County

Openly gay Wake commissioner opposes HB186, the HB2 repeal effort

Greg Ford, then-candidate for Wake County commissioner seat explains his campaign

Greg Ford talks about his campaign for a Wake County commissioner seat
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Greg Ford talks about his campaign for a Wake County commissioner seat

Greg Ford, the first openly-gay person elected to the Wake County Board of Commissioners, is lending his voice to those opposed to a proposal to undo House Bill 2.

Ford, a former teacher and principal, opposes HB2, a law the GOP-led legislature adopted last year that struck down local nondiscrimination ordinances and requires transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate. But Ford doesn’t think HB 186, filed last week by a mix of Republican and Democratic House members, goes far enough in restoring the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

HB 186 would repeal HB2 and allow cities and counties to adopt their own anti-discrimination protections, as Charlotte did a year ago in allowing people to use the public restroom that fits their gender identity rather than their sex at birth – before HB2 blocked that law. HB 186 doesn’t, however, allow local governments to extend anti-discrimination protections to privately owned restrooms – only to city-run facilities.

Ford explained his position in seven tweets he posted on Feb. 25.

“As a #LGBT American, I oppose #HB186 because it still denies my fellow citizens’ rights to life, liberty & pursuit of happiness,” Ford tweeted.

“As a gay man w/ a husband & children I support a clean repeal of #HB2 b/c anything less compromises my own integrity & identity.”

Wake’s board of commissioners has seven members, each of whom are Democrats. Despite their opposition to HB2, most of the commissioners – with the exception of John Burns – have kept their feelings out of the public spotlight.

Ford tweeted a day after state Rep. Chris Malone, a Republican from Wake County, claimed on twitter that he thought Wake commissioners supported HB 186.

Sig Hutchinson, the board’s chairman, released a statement Friday commending “the bipartisan effort currently underway in the General Assembly to repeal HB2.”

“We applaud legislators from both sides of the aisle for their continued diligence and commitment to work towards a swift and timely resolution,” the statement said.

After the confusion, Ford said constituents asked him to weigh-in on HB186 from a personal level.

“I thought about it and felt moved to do it in a way that represented the lenses I sometimes see life through,” Ford said Monday. He said he doesn’t intend to speak for the entire board or LGBT community.

“In my past, I used to wait for ‘they’ or ‘them’ to speak up, until I realized that it sometimes needed to be me,” Ford said. “I realize as an elected official my voice may carry further sometimes, but I hope more people speak out about the many wrongs of HB2 and attempts to repackage it in ‘compromise’ bills on things that I don’t believe should be compromised on, like basic civil rights.”

Paul A. Specht: 919-829-4870, @AndySpecht