At a rally at the General Assembly building in April in support of House Bill 2, state Sen. Buck Newton of Wilson urged the audience to “go home, tell your friends and family … how hard we must fight to keep our state straight.”
Many people heard Newton’s statement – the last four words delivered with emphasis – as a coded message against North Carolina’s LGBTQ community.
State Sen. Josh Stein, Newton’s opponent for attorney general, called the comments “wrong and hurtful.” Stein wrote on Facebook: “Hostility towards people who are gay or lesbian is wrong and, coming from someone who seeks to become the top law enforcement officer of North Carolina, absolutely unacceptable.”
Once again, North Carolina became the focus of national attention.
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To which Newton responded in an interview with the News & Observer: “I don’t know how they made that connection. I never mentioned anything about homosexuality.”
HB2 abolished a Charlotte ordinance that extended legal protections to LGBTQ people, and banned local governments from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances. Another part of the law, which targets transgender men and women, requires people to use restrooms in public buildings that correspond to the gender on their birth certificates.
“A bunch of crazy people on the city council of Charlotte decided that they were going to turn the world upside down, and what they thought should be imposed upon the rest of us,” Newton said at the rally.
“Now it’s been said that that are many, many, many, many more sexual predators on the sex offender list than there are transgender people in the world,” he said. “And I think we all know deep down inside that that is the case. And we can all feel sympathy for folks having a difficult time. Because we all know folks that have a difficult time.... But that does not mean that we should expose our wives and our sisters and our children to the sexual predators in the bathrooms. We must say no.”