Rally against ‘bathroom bill’ to be held today

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A small group gathered during at UNC-Wilmington yesterday during the chancellor installation ceremony to express opposition to House Bill 2. An organized rally is now underway at UNCW, followed by a second in midtown Wilmington tonight. Photo by Hilary Snow.
A small group gathered at UNC-Wilmington yesterday during the chancellor installation ceremony to express opposition to House Bill 2. An organized rally is now underway at UNCW, followed by a second in midtown Wilmington tonight. Photo by Hilary Snow.

Opponents of a controversial new state public restroom law are taking to the streets tonight as a first step in what organizers believe will be an ongoing fight to get the legislation overturned.

A variety of groups – local LGBT residents, college students, social activists and allies among them – are gathering at 5 p.m. at the corner of College Road and Oleander Drive for what is being dubbed as the “Repeal HB2 Rally.”

A similar rally is now underway the campus of UNC-Wilmington and yesterday, a small gathering of students, alumni and supporters quietly protested the legislation – and their right to express that opposition – during the installation ceremony for Chancellor Zito Sartarelli.

House Bill 2 went into effect today after being signed into law last week by Gov. Pat McCrory. It was drafted in response to non-discrimination measures passed by Charlotte leaders that included giving transgender people the right to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

The new law mandates a person can only use public bathrooms – including those in schools and UNC-system colleges – that match the gender listed on his or her birth certificate. Additionally, it strips local governments of the ability to raise minimum wage and limits options for employees filing claims of discrimination by requiring they be made only at the federal level.

The measure has drawn criticism nationwide and prompted more than 100 corporations, including Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, Microsoft and Citiband, to go on record against the measure and call on lawmakers to repeal the law in the next legislative session.

Ed Adams, one of the organizers of the local rally, said he does not know what will come from this first organizing effort.

“It’s very grassroots; we just threw it on Facebook and invited friends to invite friends…We don’t know what’s going to show up to be honest – if traffic is going to be mean or is going to be sympathetic.”

While hopeful for a positive and powerful turnout, Adams said this is just the beginning for the loose association of concerned citizens and LGBT advocates in the Wilmington area.

“House Bill 2 is not just going to disappear,” he said. “I don’t think this rally or this one week of action is what we’re about. We’re in it for the long haul. I believe we’re going to be fighting for awhile for this.”

Check Port City Daily for more on this developing story.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.