RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A group of black pastors supporting House Bill 2, which calls for people to go to the bathroom that corresponds to their biology, argued today in Raleigh that those opposed to the bill should not invoke the civil rights struggles of the past.
“Transgenderism deals with people imagining to be who and what they are not,” said Bishop Patrick Wooden of the Upper Room Church of God in Christ.
The pastors took aim at comments U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch made comparing the plight of transgender individuals with those of black Americans in the 1960s.
“When I hear this transgender – I guess they would call it – movement, try to impart themselves into the civil rights movement, I am highly offended,” said Civil Rights Activist Clarence Henderson, speaking at a news conference in front of the N.C. Capitol.
Henderson was among the group of black college students who in 1960 sat at a Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter to protest racial segregation.
“They had bathrooms downstairs,” Henderson said, “one saying white and one saying colored and water fountains, the same thing. So, this in no way compares.”
Attorney General Lynch, visiting Fayetteville Tuesday, responded to the pastors at a news conference later in the day saying, “Civil rights are not limited to one particular issue or one particular people.”
Angela Bridgman, a transgender woman, agrees with Lynch that this is a civil rights struggle.
“The people who are saying that there is no comparison here are misguided because they didn’t choose to be black any more than I chose to be a transgender woman,” she said. “I didn’t grow up thinking I want to be a girl. I grew up thinking, why do my parents want to make me a boy?”
Democratic State Representative Chris Sgro, the only openly gay member of the General Assembly, also says it’s wrong to claim opposition to HB2 is not part of a civil rights battle.
“Gay and transgender people deserve equal rights,” Sgro said. “The federal government is going to stand up for gay and transgender people here if people in this building refuse to do so. There is right or wrong. The people at that press conference were wrong.”
Going to the bathroom corresponding to your biological sex is just common sense, the pastors said. “We are in a chaotic time any time you have to stand on the doorsteps of government and defend something as simple as a person going into the right bathroom,” said Dr. Gabriel Rogers of the Kingdom Christian Church.
The pastors say they stand firmly in support of HB2. “We’re saying to the governor, to the lieutenant governor, to the legislators: stand your ground,” Bishop Wooden said.
Republican leadership in the General Assembly says they are not looking at a repeal of HB2 despite several attempts from Democrat lawmakers.
There also are several lawsuits pending.