North Carolina legislators filed three bills in support of LGBTQ+ rights Thursday, a change of pace from anti-LGBTQ+ legislation filed last month.
Legislators and members of advocacy groups discussed the details and motives of the legislation at a press conference in the North Carolina Legislative Building shortly after the bills were filed.
“As a transgender woman, I know that the bills filed today will have a very real impact on the lives and legal equality of LGBTQ+ North Carolinians,” said Allison Scott, director of policy and programs at the Campaign for Southern Equality.
House Bill 514 would ban discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, insurance, credit, education and jury service based on protected statuses including sexuality, gender identity and veteran status.
It is legal in North Carolina to discriminate against these categories — for example, an employer could choose to not hire or to fire an employee based on their sexuality or gender identity.
House Bill 515 is the shortest of the proposed legislation, advocating that the legislature eliminate the remnants of House Bill 2. The hotly-debated “bathroom bill” was partially repealed in 2017 by House Bill 142, but the new legislation prevents municipalities from creating anti-discrimination ordinances until 2020.
“We need a full and clean repeal of House Bill 2 to restore the reputation of North Carolina and to let every North Carolinian know that this state is willing to embrace them and protect them from discrimination on all fronts,” said N.C. Rep. Graig Meyer, D-District-50, a primary sponsor of HB 515.
The final bill, House Bill 516, developed in part by advocacy groups Equality NC and the Campaign for Southern Equality, would ban LGBTQ+ conversion therapy in North Carolina by licensed counselors, therapists and psychiatrists for minors and disabled adults. It would also ban state funding for the practice.
"North Carolina is better than this,” Equality N.C. Executive Director Kendra Johnson said. “We can and we must do better. Our youth deserve to grow up in a world that affirms that they are loved for exactly who they are."