As a national outcry went up over House Bill 2, so did a billboard on Highway 108 between the towns of Tryon and Columbus in Polk County near the S.C.-N.C. state line:
“Welcome to North Carolina,” it announced. “Due to our stance on LGBT rights, Please Set Your Clocks Back 100 Years.”
Opponents of HB2 laughed; supporters were not amused. Within two weeks, someone defaced the billboard with a different message and it was taken down.
“God is not mocked,” the vandal wrote, underlining “mocked” three times. Also: “Be not deceived” and “Galatians 6:7.”
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An exchange of opinions followed on the Tryon Daily Bulletin’s Facebook page:
Among supporters of HB2: “Proud to see NC not bending to the will of these ridiculous LGBT supporting liberals ....”
Among critics: “... It is totally designed to destroy any laws to protect anyone against discrimination ....”
A nonprofit called Planting Peace in Topeka, Kansas, paid for the billboard and explained why in an online statement in April:
“When North Carolina and other legislators pass anti-LGBT laws and speak anti-LGBT rhetoric, they are sending a direct message to our LGBT family that they are somehow less than, broken, and not equal under the law. These messages reflect why suicide rates among the LGBT community are so high.”
The law overturned a Charlotte ordinance extending legal protection to LGBTQ people, barred other local governments from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances and requires people to use restrooms in public buildings that correspond to the gender on their birth certificates.
The statement from Planting Peace included a message directed at LGBTQ youth:
“You are loved, valued, supported, and beautiful. There is nothing wrong with you, and we will stand by you. You are not alone.”