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Groups mobilize pro-LGBTQ rights voters in N.C.

Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC and N.C. Rep., D-Guilford, said HB2 has made more people politically active.

“I, in my 10 years of political work in North Carolina, have never seen the LGBT community, but especially young voters, so galvanized around an issue as they are around HB2,” he said.

Mitch Kokai, senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation, said North Carolina’s status as a purple state is the reason partisan groups are taking interest.

“I think from the moment that the Human Rights Campaign and some folks in the Charlotte City Council worked to put forward the Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance, this was destined to become an issue that was going to lead to lot of discussion, a lot of debate, a lot of vitriol,” he said.

Dr. Ron Baity, president of Return America, a conservative religious organization located in Wallburg that is pro-HB2, said he is mobilizing voters by making speeches across the state and urging pastors to encourage their congregations to vote.

“We’ve kinda strayed away from (Judeo-Christian) values and we’re in the process of bringing churches, individuals together,” he said.

Brandon Lorenz, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said this election will depend on voter turnout.

“If (pro-LGBTQ rights voters) come out and if they turn out — whether it’s early voting or on Nov. 8 — they’re going to send a very important message about, you know, the need for elected officials everywhere to support LGBTQ equality,” he said.

Baity said he thinks there is a lot on the line this election.

“So I think our values system is on the scales,” he said. “I think what happens in the reelection of our governor, or failure to reelect him, is going to send a lot of signals across the United States of America.”

Lorenz said motivating people to vote is crucial. He said in the 2008 election then-Sen. Barack Obama won North Carolina by a small margin of 14,000 votes.

“What we’re working to do is just make sure that everyone, all these pro-equality folks, know what’s at stake and get out to vote,” he said.

Sgro said if the LGBTQ community mobilizes, the election could fall in their favor.

“And so the message that North Carolina is going to send, not just to ourselves but to the entire country is going to be: You can’t attack members of the transgender community or the LGBT community and you can’t discriminate, because it’s going to cost you in the ballot,” he said.

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