Celebrities Register Opposition to Anti-LGBT Laws in North Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee

By Megan Clayton • April 13, 2016 • 9:34 am

Big names in the arts and entertainment world are using their star power to protest the anti-LGBT laws that have recently advanced in North Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee. Here’s a round-up of some of the most recent high-profile voices calling for acceptance and understanding of LGBT people, and a rejection of these anti-LGBT laws:

Bruce Springsteen

In a much-publicized move, rock-n-roll legend Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert in North Carolina last weekend because of the state’s newly enacted HB2, a law that repeals local LGBT non-discrimination ordinances and codifies anti-transgender policies into state law.

Bryan Adams

Rocker Bryan Adams was scheduled to perform this week in Biloxi, Mississippi, but now he too has canceled over the state’s House Bill 1523, an extreme law allows institutions like hospitals and schools to discriminate against anyone based on “sincerely held religious beliefs,” including same-sex couples, transgender people, unwed sexually active couples, single mothers, and more.

Tennessee Music Stars

Stars who got their start in Nashville, including Miley Cyrus and Emmylou Harris, expressed their disappointment with House Bill 2414—an invasive bill currently moving through Tennessee’s legislature that restricts transgender children and students from using the restroom of the gender they live as each day. Harris said: “Those who love and make country music do so because at its best it speaks to the pain and suffering everyone shares in this life. Let’s not make that life harder still for some, with this mean spirited and unnecessary legislation.” Cyrus, who was born in Franklin, Tennessee, expressed her opposition on Instagram: “For a moment a few weeks ago, it seemed like lawmakers in Tennessee had really heard the brave testimony of a transgender young person and her parents. A mother’s simple ask to legislators about what they would do if it was their child who was transgender hit a nerve, and the anti-transgender bill was sent to a summer study session, seemingly killing it for this year. But that was two weeks ago – a lifetime ago, it seems, in light of all that has happened since – and that bill is back.”

go to my Twitter to learn more about taking a stand against anti-LGBT laws A photo posted by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) on

LGBT country music stars Chely Wright and Ty Herndon also spoke out, drawing on their experiences being accepted in the industry as gay artists. Wright said:

“As an artist living and working in Nashville for more than 20 years, I know how hard it was to struggle for acceptance as a gay woman. The deck is stacked even higher against transgender students who face dramatically increased rates of bullying. This bill will send a devastating message to transgender youth that they are not welcome, included or valued. It goes without saying that their classmates and their communities will hear this message loudly and clearly too; emboldening many of them to double down on that harassment. I have a lot of friends in Nashville with great, big voices and it’s time that we all use our voices to stand up against this scourge of unnecessary, hateful legislation in Tennessee.”

Herndon spoke about coming out to his mother and urged lawmakers to be as accepting of LGBT youth as she was: “Discrimination is always wrong, but it’s particularly heartbreaking to see legislators considering terrible measures targeting, instead of supporting, our children. When I told my mother I’m gay, her only concern was that I would have a happy and successful life. Because My Life Mattered. Let her be our example.”

Robin Roberts

Entertainers outside the music industry are speaking out too. Robin Roberts, the co-host of ABC’s Good Morning America and a native Mississippian, told The Advocate that while she was proud of her roots, her home state’s move to discriminate against LGBT people left her deeply disappointed:

“My longtime partner, Amber, and I have always felt welcomed in my home state, and it hurts my soul to think of anyone not feeling welcome. It’s always been a deeply held belief of mine that everyone, everywhere should be treated equally. I’m proud that my beloved mother and father taught me as a child growing up in Mississippi to focus on the many things we all have in common, not our few differences. And what we all deserve to have in common is the right to be treated equally.”

Joel McHale

During a performance in Durham, comedian Joel McHale—best known for his role on NBC’s Community and as the host of E!’s The Soup—pledged to send the show’s proceeds to the LGBTQ Center of Durham. According to his publicist:

“Joel is vehemently opposed to HB2 and knows there are many in Durham (which recently passed a measure condemning the law) that share the feeling. He felt this was a good way to raise awareness and much needed funds for a local center that is on the front line of this important cause.”

Stan Van Gundy

Stan Van Gundy, who coaches Detroit Pistons, recently told reporters that the NBA should consider rescheduling the 2017 All-Star game in light of North Carolina’s HB2: “[The All-Star] game should be moved if they don’t change the law. I’m really proud of, like, Bruce Springsteen moved his concert, I think that’s outstanding. Look, we’re in 2016, and the idea that for any reason you can conjure up, you think you have the right to discriminate against people, I just think it’s against everything that we should stand for. I understand logistically it would be a major problem but so what? Sometimes standing up for things that are right makes things tougher. I don’t think the game should be there if they’re not going to change that law.”

Ringo Starr

Adding momentum in North Carolina, former Beatles member Ringo Starr announced his opposition to House Bill 2 and canceled a concert in Cary, North Carolina. “We need to take a stand against this hatred,” he said. “Spread peace and love.”

Freedom for All Americans applauds those who have used their public profile to highlight and fight against LGBT discrimination.

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