Under the Dome

Durham chamber, Duke University, UNC faculty call for HB2 repeal; Boston, Pearl Jam cancel NC concerts

Supporters and opponents hold HB2 rallies in Raleigh

Several hundred supporters of HB2 rallied on the State Capitol grounds in Raleigh, NC Monday, April 11, 2016 as a small group of opponents gathered across the street.
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Several hundred supporters of HB2 rallied on the State Capitol grounds in Raleigh, NC Monday, April 11, 2016 as a small group of opponents gathered across the street.

The leaders of Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Faculty Council and the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce have joined calls for the repeal of House Bill 2.

The law also prompted two more bands to cancel North Carolina shows. Classic rock band Boston canceled concerts next month in Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte, calling HB2 “an oppressive discriminatory law against a small minority.” Pearl Jam, a rock band known for its activism, later Monday canceled a Raleigh show set for Wednesday and said it would donate to “local groups” fighting the law.

“This will be upsetting to those who have tickets and you can be assured that we are equally frustrated by the situation,” Pearl Jam wrote on its website.

The president and two top administrators at Duke University also released a statement Monday calling for repeal, saying HB2 “runs counter to the ideals of Duke.”

“The economic and material impact is being felt across the state in many ways, including at universities,” president Richard Broadhead, provost Sally Kornbluth and Duke University Health System President and CEO Eugene Washington wrote. “Scholars from states and municipalities that have imposed bans on government travel to North Carolina have been unable to travel to Duke to continue vital ongoing research partnerships or attend academic conferences.

“Prospective students, faculty and staff, as well as Duke alumni planning visits to campus, have voiced concerns about whether they will find a hospitable environment in North Carolina. These developments have the potential to limit the value that Duke and other colleges and universities contribute to the state, namely producing trained graduates and expanding the frontiers of knowledge.”

Duke’s announcement came on the heels of the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Council’s unanimous vote Friday to back a resolution opposing House Bill 2.

“Nullification of nondiscrimination policies in municipalities surrounding UNC-CH would make our mission and interests impossible,” the resolution says. “Therefore, repeal of HB2 is the only possible course of action if the State of North Carolina will continue to maintain its world-class university.”

Also Monday, Durham business leaders had a message similar to that of their counterparts at Duke.

“The Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce stands with the many companies, communities and individuals in opposing HB2 and all legislation which discriminates against men, women, governments and private companies living in, traveling to and doing business in North Carolina,” president and CEO Geoff Durham said in a news release.

“Durham is an inclusive community which is home to many diverse people, festivals and research centers. Consistent with our mission to promote economic development and support quality of life in Durham, we condemn measures that negatively impact businesses, or curtail the civil rights and liberties of our neighbors and guests.”

One of the main groups that lobbied for House Bill 2, the Christian Action League of North Carolina, is calling its opponents “social terrorists” who seek “total domination.”

The group’s director, Rev. Mark Creech, posted an opinion column to its website over the weekend, arguing that opposition to the LGBT law is unfairly harming North Carolina’s reputation. His post came as opposition to the law from major companies continued to mount.

“Since the North Carolina General Assembly passed HB2, my beloved state has had its name maligned about as bad as calling a virgin a whore,” Creech wrote. “When you sling mud it sticks. It doesn’t have to be true. People move away as fast as a Jew did in Bible times from possible contact with a leper whenever hearing, ‘unclean, unclean.’”

Creech says the law is not discriminatory. House Bill 2 strikes down local nondiscrimination ordinances and replaces them with a statewide law that doesn’t include sexual orientation and gender identity as categories protected from discrimination.

Creech’s strongest criticism was directed at the national Human Rights Campaign, one of the leading opponents of the law.

“Don’t expect these social terrorists like the HRC to let up on the pressure,” he wrote. “There is no meaningful dialogue with them, only total domination. They are an unbending, immovable, aggressive, insistent force that would have every norm and moral turned on its head.”

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter

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