Democrats in the North Carolina House have filed a bill to expand state protections to include sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status and familial status.
Greensboro Representative Chris Sgro is one of the sponsors of House Bill 1078, dubbed the “Equality for All Act”. He called it the most comprehensive set of non-discrimination protections ever introduced in the General Assembly.
“Everyone should have basic access to education, housing, unemployment and other areas,” said Sgro. “No one should be turned away from a Main Street business or public facility because of who they were born to be.”
The legislation is a rebuttal to House Bill 2, which, among other provisions, denies state protections to members of the LGBT community, bars cities from expanding their own non-discrimination statutes and dictates which bathrooms transgender people must use.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Hope Tyler called for the repeal of HB2, saying the law harms transgender children, including her teenage son.
“To the transgender children all over the United States, you need to know that you are loved, and that change is coming,” she said tearfully.
Tyler cited a letter to Governor Pat McCrory signed by 200 mental health professionals stating that calls to a suicide prevention hotline for transgender people have doubled since the bill's passage. She said her own son has been hospitalized for psychiatric treatment in recent weeks.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would sue North Carolina over HB2, saying the law violates the Civil Rights Act. State lawmakers and Governor McCrory responded with counter suits of their own.
Bills to repeal HB2 have already been filed in the state House and Senate. Sgro called for a full repeal, but said the state needs to go further to enact a broad range of protections. He said there's bipartisan support for such a bill.
“I know that there are a lot of Republican and Democrats alike who think that these kind of non- discrimination protections are already in place, and certainly when they find out they aren't, that they are needed,” he said.
Sgro noted similar measures have been approved in 19 states.