State Politics

‘Never Compromise On Civil Rights,’ says billboard blasting HB2 deal

For months, an electronic billboard on Interstate 40-85 east of Greensboro said “Repeal HB2.”

Now that House Bill 2 has been repealed and replaced by a new state law, the billboard’s message has also been replaced.

“Never Compromise On Civil Rights,” the sign now proclaims in bold letters – a clear signal that the owner of the billboard is no fan of the compromise backed by Gov. Roy Cooper.

The electronic billboard is owned by Bob Page, the outspoken CEO of Replacements, Ltd., a company that sells old and new china, silver and other collectibles.

Page, who is gay, is a vocal supporter of LGBT rights and has used billboards to broadcast his message to the thousands of passing cars on the busy Guilford County freeway.

Asked about the latest billboard message, a spokeswoman for Replacements, Ltd., pointed to a statement issued by Page shortly after Cooper signed the HB2 replacement into law.

“We believe it is unacceptable,” Page said. “The reason is simple: it compromises civil rights.

“The new law continues to put LGBT people in a box. It says our rights are different than other people’s, and that we will have to wait years more to be equal. That is not right, and we will not accept it as the final word on the subject. We will continue to speak out for fair treatment, diversity, and inclusion. That includes expressing our sadness, disappointment, and disagreement with the law passed yesterday, and it will include working for better legislation.”

The new law repeals HB2 but prevents local governments from passing certain nondiscrimination ordinances until 2020. Furthermore, it says that only state government can set policies for transgender access to public bathrooms and locker rooms – and there’s now no state guidance on the issue.

Page, who also spoke out against North Carolina’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in 2012, has said his company has lost business over the years because of his activism on LGBT issues. On several occasions, company property was vandalized with anti-gay slurs.

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