North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law, HB2, isn’t working out nearly as well as its Republican proponents had hoped. The economic impact has already taken a toll; local voters aren’t impressed; and the state has suddenly found itself in the middle of national culture-war backlash it never saw coming.
Making matters slightly worse, the fight isn’t exactly bringing out the best in some of the law’s proponents. The Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel reported on a rally in support of HB2 held on Monday:
If state Sen. Buck Newton (R) has his way, North Carolina will be known as the “straight” state.“Go home, tell your friends and family who had to work today what this is all about and how hard we must fight to keep our state straight,” Newton said at a rally Monday, according to video posted by Progress North Carolina Action.
And before you dismiss this as ugly rhetoric from some random state legislator, consider the 2016 context: state Sen. Buck Newton is the Republican Party’s nominee for state Attorney General this year.
In other words, if the GOP has its way, North Carolina will go from a state AG who’s fighting against the discrimination law to a state AG who intends to “fight to keep our state straight.”
Wait, it gets worse.
Newton’s comments quickly made the rounds, and News & Observer reached out to the Republican lawmaker to ask about his public comments. Newton told the paper that “keep our state straight” means “keep men out of the ladies’ room.”
In an interview, Newton said he didn’t say anything about gays.“I don’t know how they made that connection,” he said. “I never mentioned anything about homosexuality.”
There was no indication in the article that he was kidding.
Postscript: Progress North Carolina Action released a video clip from the Republican lawmaker’s speech on Monday. The quality of the recording isn’t great, but there’s little doubt that he said what he was quoted as saying.