Religion

Interfaith group of Charlotte clergy will work to overturn HB2

Rev. Robin Tanner of Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church spoke Tuesday for the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice, a group of 68 clergy for more than 50 houses of worship. The group, which held a Tuesdsay news conference, pledged to do what they can to overturn North Carolina's controversial new law limiting legal protection for LGBT persons. They plan to financially support an ACLU lawsuit challenging HB2 and organize an April 24 rally to protest the law.
Rev. Robin Tanner of Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church spoke Tuesday for the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice, a group of 68 clergy for more than 50 houses of worship. The group, which held a Tuesdsay news conference, pledged to do what they can to overturn North Carolina's controversial new law limiting legal protection for LGBT persons. They plan to financially support an ACLU lawsuit challenging HB2 and organize an April 24 rally to protest the law. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Nearly 70 clergy from several faith traditions pledged Tuesday to do whatever they can to overturn North Carolina’s controversial new law limiting legal protection for LGBT people.

“We are morally outraged about this rarely used political maneuver by the state Senate and House to bypass the will of Charlotte’s City Council,” the Rev. Robin Tanner, lead minister at the Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church, said Tuesday at a news conference. “However, we are even more disturbed about the fact that this effort denies entire segments of the population their due protections as citizens.”

Tanner, who chairs the interfaith Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice, said the group would financially support the lawsuit recently filed by the ACLU to challenge HB2.

“We will support every legal effort to overturn HB2,” said Tanner, a lesbian who married her partner in 2013.

The liberal clergy group, which includes two transgender ministers, will also organize an anti-HB2 rally on April 24. It’ll start at 4 p.m.; the location was still being arranged Tuesday.

At the news conference, about 20 clergy flanked Tanner, holding signs that read “All Are God’s Children,” “No HB2,” and “Clergy 4 Equality.”

Also speaking Tuesday was the Rev. Debra Hopkins, a transgender woman who is associate minister at Sacred Souls Community Church.

“North Carolina’s hateful new law … is doing nothing more than putting trans people like myself in very real danger,” she said. “This bill sets me, my sisters, my brothers, and children who identify as transgender into bathrooms where they will surely be threatened.”

Reached Tuesday, the Rev. Mark Harris, a leading supporter of HB2, disputed what was said at the news conference.

Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church of Charlotte, blamed the Charlotte City Council and Mayor Jennifer Roberts for going too far in passing the city ordinance HB2 was designed to kill.

Until the city pushed the ordinance, Harris said, “people did feel like everybody had equal protection. … There was never a true case made of untold numbers of people hurt or in any way mistreated.”

Harris argued that HB2 mirrors federal laws on discrimination, which list various protected categories but not sexual orientation.

“HB2 is now law, and it in no way discriminates against anyone,” he said. “This is what had worked in North Carolina for a long time.”

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