Pictured above: Jason Collins (Rear-Center) poses for a photo with Mayor Nancy Vaughan (2nd Left of Collins), HRC Board of Governors member Neil Smith (Left of Collins), Candis Cox Daniels (Right of Collins), State Representative Chris Sgro (Right), HRC Regional Field Director Joe Saunders (Front Right) and local LGBTQ leaders.
Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA player, joined the Human Rights Campaign, local LGBTQ leaders, and the Hillary for America North Carolina team today for a roundtable discussion on the impact HB2 has had on North Carolina and the importance of voting for presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and other pro-equality candidates on November 8.
Dozens of pro-equality supporters took part in the conversation about the continuing impact HB2 has had on North Carolina’s LGBTQ community, increasing economic losses suffered from the loss of major sports competitions, and how pro-equality voters could use their voting power to effect change in the November election. Joining Collins on the panel were HRC Board of Governors member Neil Smith, state Rep. Chris Sgro, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, and transgender advocate Candis Cox-Daniels.
Collins and LGBTQ leaders discussed the loss of millions of dollars in jobs and growth opportunities for the state as a result of HB2 and why pro-equality voters have to #turnOUT the vote and support pro-equality candidates down the ballot that will protect inclusion and LGBTQ equality. Although the NBA’s decision to withdraw the All Star Game from Charlotte was “difficult,” it was “the right decision to make…it set a precedent for other sports institutions” including the ACC, NCAA and the CIAA to continue their commitment to inclusion and LGBTQ equality, said Collins.
Prior to the basketball associations’ decisions, the Tar Heel State had already taken a hit of at least $329.9 million in lost business, and in taxpayer money used by Gov. Pat McCrory to defend HB2. The withdrawal of the All-Star Game cost North Carolina’s economy an estimated $100 million in loss job opportunities, canceled performances and related profits.
Transgender advocate Candis Cox-Daniels commended the NBA on standing up for the transgender community.
“As a black trans woman in North Carolina, I feel like they’re saying ‘Hey, come stand next to us,’” Cox-Daniels said.
Cox-Daniels encouraged attendees to vote equality and continue to fight to protect the victories we’ve accomplished under President Barack Obama: marriage equality, transgender military service, and regulated healthcare policies. We protect our rights by voting for Clinton, a champion of equality, Cox-Daniels said.
Collins and LGBTQ leaders urged attendees to support pro-equality candidates that will stand up for for all North Carolinians. Collins called out Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, who campaigned in Raleigh the same day.
“Look at Pence’s record…he enacted a religious freedom law that was a way to legalize discrimination in his state,” Collins said. “He has tried to force young men and women in his state to go through conversion therapy, which is torture. It’s shocking that in 2016 that is still taking place.”
Clinton is “all the things that Trump is not…she is a unifier…She wants to celebrate diversity and champion equality and acceptance for all and level the playing field for the many Americans who are facing uphill challenges in their daily lives.” said Collins.
Nearly 70 percent of North Carolina voters support the repeal of HB2. Moreover, North Carolina is home to an LGBTQ voting population of more than 255,800; a powerful voting block that can substantially impact North Carolina elections. The mobilization of pro-equality voters will be critical to repealing HB2 and electing pro-equality leaders down the ballot.
Calling for the full repeal of HB2 and the election of presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and champions of equality, Collins and equality leaders encouraged voters to get engaged with local efforts and take advantage of early voting, which begins Oct. 20.
“We are ready to put HB2 behind us and welcome Roy Cooper as our next governor. Cooper, together with Deborah Ross in the U.S. senate, and Hillary Clinton in the White House, shows us that leadership is about inclusivity, optimism and celebrating our differences that make us Stronger Together,” said HRC Board of Governors member Neil Smith.
In North Carolina and across the country, HRC staff and volunteers are working to #turnOUT the vote and elect leadership that will stand up for all North Carolinians. The pro-equality voting block in North Carolina will play a pivotal role in the presidential, gubernatorial and other down-ballot races. If you live in Charlotte or the Triangle area of North Carolina, join HRC’s efforts to repeal HB2 and #turnOut the vote in November. Click here to sign-up to volunteer at our Charlotte or Raleigh offices.
If you have questions about HRC’s work in North Carolina to #turnOUT voters or would like more information on how to join our efforts across the state, please contact HRC Associate Regional Field Director at Ryan.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured above, from the Left: HRC Board of Governors member Neil Smith (Left) Mayor Nancy Vaughan, unknown, Candis Cox Daniels, Jason Collins and State Representative Chris Sgro.
Pictured above: HB2 Roundtable attendees in Raleigh listen to Jason Collins and LGBTQ leaders talk about the cost of discrimination and the impact of HB2.