Under the Dome

Hispanic pastors urge lawmakers to stand firm on HB2

A contingent of Hispanic pastors rallied at the state legislative building on Tuesday to urge lawmakers to stand firm against pressure to repeal or water down House Bill 2.

The weekend mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando echoed through the rally as the ministers said HB2 was not about discrimination and some said neither were the shootings. The blame should be placed on Islamic militants, they said.

The legislation, which Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law in March, precludes cities from expanding civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and requires people in government facilities to use the bathrooms matching their gender identity. Supporters, including the religious leaders Tuesday, have argued that it would be unsafe to allow transgender men into female restrooms. Others say it is a privacy issue.

There has been talk in the General Assembly recently of modifying some aspects of HB2, but no firm plans to do so have been confirmed. Rally organizer N.C. Values Coalition and a broader organization of religious and conservative interests, Keep N.C. Safe, have been organizing support to keep the law in place.

“Stand firm to defend morals and values of our children and our women,” said pastor Daniel Busquetts of the House of Restoration Latin Harvest in Charlotte, speaking to the group through an interpreter. “... We have nothing against homosexuals. Like Jesus, we love the sinner but don’t love the sin. We have cried for the victims in Orlando.”

Rep. Chris Sgro, a Democrat from Greensboro who is executive director of Equality North Carolina, said he was offended.

“It’s incredibly discouraging to see the N.C. Values Coalition and Keep N.C. Safe lobbying the General Assembly to double down on discrimination not three days after 50 people were massacred in a direct attack on the LGBT community,” Sgro said in an interview. “It’s unfathomable to me they did not think to give the residents of North Carolina and the country breathing room before attacking the LGBT community once again.”

He said because of the rhetoric against LGBT people, they are more at risk in bathrooms than others.

Last month a group of African-American pastors rallied for the law. Large turnouts of faith leaders who oppose the law have also been part of mass demonstrations.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO