A coalition of organizations opposed to House Bill 2 rallied at the Capitol grounds on Monday morning, and then delivered what they said were 185,000 signatures of people calling for HB2 to be repealed during the legislative session that begins Monday night.
Ten speakers addressed a crowd of 200 to 300, the first event at what was expected to be a full day of rallies, peaceful demonstrations and possibly arrests for civil disobedience.
The organizations sponsoring the rally represent a variety of interests, but they said Monday was a call to work together to further one another’s goals.
Rev. William Barber of the NAACP thanked the crowd for showing up to support the LGBT protections issue spurred by HB2. But he said they should have been protesting along with the Moral Monday movement against voting rights bills from years past.
“If we’re going to be together, we need to be together all the time,” Barber said.
Rep. Chris Sgro, a newly seated Democratic legislator from Greensboro and head of Equality NC, cited the economic impact of widespread boycotts and opposition to the bill. He said last month’s special session to pass the law resulted in “the worst LGBT, anti-worker, anti-North Carolina bill imaginable.”
Sgro said he would introduce legislation establishing statewide protections for veterans, sexual orientation and gender identification.
The ACLU of North Carolina also organized the event, along with the Human Rights Campaign and the Campaign for Southern Equality.
After the hourlong rally, the groups took stacks of boxes with the signed petitions to the Capitol building, where state Capitol Police monitored their delivery to the governor’s office. No one from the governor’s staff appeared.
Later, McCrory’s office released a statement saying that the signatures were only enough “to fill two boxes, and the overwhelming majority of signatures were from out-of-state.”