President Obama Says HB 2 Threatens International Relations, Must Be Overturned

By Megan Clayton • April 22, 2016 • 3:13 pm

President Obama weighed in on North Carolina’s disastrous House Bill 2 on Friday, saying the law and others like it should be overturned.

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The President—who is visiting London this week—was asked about HB 2 and other recent anti-LGBT legislation during a joint news conference with Prime Minister David Cameron. The United Kingdom recently put out a travel advisory for LGBT Britons visiting the United States, warning they could be subject to discrimination if they visit certain U.S. states.

The UK’s updated travel advisory for the US reads, in part:

“The US is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country. LGBT travellers may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi. Before travelling please read our general travel advice for the LGBT community.”

The President pushed back somewhat against the implication that there are places in the United States that do not welcome LGBT travelers, though he did not mince words in his disagreement with such laws and with lawmakers who are pushing them. Residents of North Carolina and Mississippi are themselves “wonderful people,” according to the President, and British citizens who visit will be treated hospitably.

“I want everybody here in the United Kingdom to know that the people in North Carolina and Mississippi are wonderful people, they are hospitable people, they are beautiful states and you are welcome. You should come and enjoy yourselves. I think you’ll be treated with extraordinary hospitality. I also think that the laws that have been passed there are wrong and should be overturned.”

This is not the first time President Obama or his spokespeople have publicly condemned HB 2, which strips North Carolina’s municipalities of their ability to pass LGBT non-discrimination laws and codifies anti-transgender discrimination into state law. During a press conference on March 28, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said HB 2 was “mean-spirited” and goes against the Obama Administration’s commitment to LGBT rights:

“This Administration is strongly committed to advancing the cause of equality for LGBT Americans and to ensuring that they do not face discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love. Like so many others across the country, we are concerned about the potential harmful impact of this law, especially on transgender youth, and believe it is mean-spirited and sends the wrong message.”

This new international travel advisory is one more way in which North Carolina’s—and now, the entire United States’—reputation as a destination for tourism is threatened by HB 2. Yesterday, Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA would relocate Charlotte’s 2017 All Star game if the anti-LGBT law stays intact. The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority is already estimating the city will lose $86 million between now and 2020 because of HB 2, while the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau says it has already accounted for nearly $3 million in losses in the weeks since North Carolina lawmakers pushed through HB 2 in special session.

North Carolina’s legislature is back in session on Monday, April 25. They have the power to repeal HB 2 and restore North Carolina’s reputation and economy by repealing this extreme law. If you live in North Carolina, CLICK HERE to rush a message to your legislators urging them to take immediate action.

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