By a 5-0 vote at their April 6 meeting, the Nags Head Board of Commissioners voted to express their opposition to HB2, the so-called bathroom bill passed by state lawmakers and signed by the governor on March 23.
Among other things, the bill overturned a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed transgendered people to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity and it precludes local governments from passing their own LGBT anti-discrimination measures. Passage of the law has created a political firestorm, both in the state and nationally.
During public discussion, the commissioners voiced a number of concerns about HB2. Mayor Bob Edwards said the bill means the town “would not be able to add [anti] discrimination language in our contracts” with outside vendors, adding that “those who have been discriminated against have no recourse.”“This is an atrocity and we don’t want to be part of it,” Edward added.
Commissioner Renee Cahoon cited a potential economic impact. “We’re in the tourism business and it will have” an effect, she said. “I’ve already received emails from people asking if they could [cancel] weddings planned down here.”
Speaking earlier during the public comment portion of the meeting, former Nags Head Mayor and realtor Bob Oakes also addressed the tourism issue, saying his company has “received a number of calls from people who say they don’t want to come to North Carolina” as a result of HB2.
Mayor Pro Tem Susie Walters called the bill “discriminatory at best and persecutory at worst….This is not who we are. We are an open and welcoming community.”
Commissioner Marvin Demers asserted that “I’m strongly opposed to the mindset that’s behind this bill.” And Commissioner John Ratzenberger objected to the way the legislature passed the bill, saying it was hastily done without consultation or transparency.
“There was an assumption” that the state legislature and local communities “work together. And that was violated,” he said. “I think it’s time for us and all the other municipalities to make a strong statement about how legislation is being conducted by the state of North Carolina.”