Raleigh tech entrepreneur Brooks Bell called North Carolina’s House Bill 2 “deeply embarrassing and morally wrong” in a speech Wednesday afternoon at the Democratic National Convention.
Bell is the owner of Brooks Bell Inc., a company that assists consumer brands with getting their messages out. She started the firm at age 23 to “partner with some of the largest organizations in America to make the internet easier to use,” Bell said in the speech.
Bell’s husband, Jesse Lipson of Citrix, spoke Monday night at the convention. In an interview with The N&O after her speech, she said the DNC’s decision to invite both of them was “a crazy coincidence.”
“I don’t think they even realized we’re married,” she said.
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In the four-minute speech – which immediately preceded remarks from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio – Bell said Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump would harm the country. She tied him to HB2 because Trump’s pick for vice president, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, signed a “religious freedom” bill viewed as discriminatory to LGBT people.
“I am worried, terrified about what may happen if we elect Trump,” Bell said. “We’ve already seen the preview in my own state of North Carolina. Earlier this year, our legislature passed what’s known as the bathroom bill, which caused the New York Times to describe North Carolina as ‘a pioneer in bigotry.’”
Boos were heard in the convention hall when Bell mentioned “bathroom bill.” Bell said HB2 has resulted in economic losses of $190 million “and counting.”
Bell also shared her personal story: She suffered a stroke shortly after launching her company. “I had to re-learn how to read, write and talk,” she said. “I was lucky. I recovered, and so did my fledgling company. ... I believe in Hillary because I know she also carries battle scars.”
Bell told The N&O she’s not sure how she was selected to speak. “I assume that it has to do with my technology background and being a woman at a female-led convention,” she said.
Bell and Lipson will continue to be involved in politics this election year. They’ll soon be hosting a campaign fundraiser with former president Bill Clinton.