Politics & Government

Catholic bishop of Raleigh diocese: Replace HB2

The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh said Friday that House Bill 2 should be reconsidered and replaced by either new legislation or some other measure.

Bishop Michael Burbidge said he opposed the Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance that HB2 was initially drafted to undo. Among other things, that ordinance would have allowed people in the city to use public restrooms according to their gender identity rather than the gender of their birth.

But speaking to reporters Friday, Burbidge says that by going beyond the Charlotte ordinance, HB2 became too complex and too divisive. Among the law’s provisions are ones that forbid local governments from passing certain minimum-wage or anti-discrimination ordinances and one that establishes a statewide anti-discrimination law that does not protect people who are gay, lesbian or transgender.

“I think it was in the spirit of doing what was best for the community, but obviously we can’t ignore the fact that there has been such reaction and misunderstanding,” Burbidge said of HB2. “Maybe we tried to do too much within that one bill that has created such discord.”

Burbidge does not advocate a particular solution to HB2. “I’m not a legislator; I’m a religious leader,” he said. But in an interview and later in a statement released by the diocese, Burbidget said he supports a set of principles on which he believes a solution should be built.

“I prayerfully hope that any legislation or measure addressing these sensitive issues would: defend human dignity; avoid any form of bigotry; respect religious liberty and the convictions of religious institutions; work for the common good; and be discussed in a peaceful and respectful manner.”

The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh covers 54 counties in the eastern half of North Carolina and includes more than 225,000 parishioners.

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling