August 6, 2016 at 12:44 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Kaine: Anti-LGBT House Bill 2 ‘not who North Carolina is’
Tim Kaine speaks out against House Bill 2 at a North Carolina rally. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Tim Kaine speaks out against House Bill 2 at a North Carolina rally. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine this week made North Carolina’s recently enacted anti-LGBT law a focus of a campaign rally in the state, denouncing the measure as “not who North Carolina is.”

Kaine made the remarks during a rally Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C., as passage of House Bill 2 — which resulted in the loss of the NBA All-Star Game for the state — has become a major focus of the gubernatorial election.

“Now, I know in North Carolina, there’s been some pain over this issue.,” Kaine said. “They snuck through in the legislature this HB 2, and they tried to introduce it kind of in the dead of night, and the legislature said, can we do an end run and make it happen really fast? And maybe people won’t notice, and maybe people won’t complain. But you all have stood up in a major way. And you said, this is not who we are. This is not who North Carolina is. These are not our values.”

Signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory after a single day of consideration by the state legislature, House Bill 2 undoes all pro-LGBT non-discrimination ordinances in North Carolina, including one recently enacted in Charlotte, and prohibits transgender people from using the public restroom in schools and government buildings consistent with their gender identity.

Also appearing at the rally and criticizing HB 2 was North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Democratic candidate challenging McCrory in the gubernatorial election. As attorney general, Cooper has declined to defend HB 2 in court.

“Gov. McCrory can deny it all he wants, and he can even make jokes about it, but our economy has suffered because of House Bill 2,” Cooper said.

Making the call that House Bill 2 “must be repealed,” Cooper rattled off the negative economic impacts of the law, which include performers refusing to come to the state as well as the cancellation of conventions and business expansions.

“We may never know how many businesses and conventions and tourists and potential jobs that have been taken off the list of North Carolina because of this bad law,” Cooper said. “That is what can happen when you elect leaders who put their political careers ahead of the people that they serve.”

Hillary Clinton criticized the law after it was signed by McCrory, saying on Twitter, “LGBT people should be protected from discrimination under the law — period.” Donald Trump has taken a few positions on the measure, but most recently endorsed House Bill 2, saying he’s “with the state” on the controversial law.

Also during the rally, Kaine drew a connection between House Bill 2 and Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, who as Indiana governor signed a “religious freedom” bill into law seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination, leading to a media frenzy as well as criticism from the business community and LGBT advocates. Pence was forced to sign into law a “fix” to the measure.

“The vice presidential nominee on the Republican side, Mike Pence, did something like the North Carolina bill,” Kaine said. “Found that immediately – discriminating against LGBT people – immediately, companies started to pull out. You’re seeing those announcements in North Carolina, too, whether it’s the All-Star Game or PayPal. Same thing happened in Indiana. And he had to kind of do a U-turn.”

Making reference to a 2006 speech on the U.S. House floor in which Pence as a member of Congress said same-sex marriage would lead to “societal collapse,” Kaine said, “That’s just not right, folks.”

Kaine also took note of the speech delivered at the Democratic National Convention by Sarah McBride, who in Philadelphia became the first openly transgender person to address a major U.S. party convention. The vice presidential nominee said she “made history.”

“Some of you know her,” Kaine said. “She was the first transgender person ever to speak at a national convention.  And she talked about the continuing battle that we have in this nation, the fight against discrimination.”

Kaine also praised a recent ruling from the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the voter ID law in North Carolina, which was also enacted by McCrory. Kaine called the ruling against law, which critics say prevented minorities from going to the polls, was a “great decision” and “participation’s the name of the game.”

Christopher Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina and attendee at the rally, said the remarks about “the deep economic harm caused by Pat McCrory’s disastrous HB 2” from Cooper and Kaine were “refreshing.”

“Kaine also pointed out how economy-destroying anti-LGBT measures like HB2 actually got their start with Mike Pence’s work in Indiana,” Sgro added. “Negligent leaders like Pence and McCrory need to be defeated in November and undoubtedly, Tim Kaine’s speech in Greensboro this week helped us do just that. I was proud to stand with Kaine and Cooper there.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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