GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - The debate over House Bill 2 has been the subject of debate in Charlotte, and even throughout the nation. On Saturday, Gaston County joined the debate.
Neighbors held an anti-House Bill 2 rally Saturday afternoon, in front of the Gaston County Courthouse.
"I think it's disgusting North Carolina would pick out a certain group of people to discriminate against," Sandy Johnson said over a megaphone to those in attendance.
The new state law was created and passed directly in response to Charlotte's non-discrimination ordinance in March.
It requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that match their birth certificates. The law also makes clear local measures can't expand anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation or gender identity.
"You set us back 100 years or more with these laws," Johnson said.
Since House Bill 2's passage, Gov. Pat McCrory has insisted the legislature is keeping the privacy and safety of women and children in mind with the law.
"That's the only reason we had that interaction with the state legislature," McCrory said in a press conference Tuesday in the aftermath of PayPal's decision to forgo expanding into Charlotte.
Those who support the bill echo McCrory's statements.
"We should ensure the privacy and safety of all children, all girls and women," said Kellie Fiedorek at a pro-House Bill 2 vigil earlier in the week.
Gaston County neighbors Saturday say House Bill 2 cannot even protect against this concern.
"If a man wants to go into a women's restroom and attack somebody, this bill is not going to stop that," said Karen Turner.
But those at the rally in Gastonia say the law goes beyond the bathroom.
"I also see it affect all of my coworkers in that when they're pregnant or another race or color or religion they could be fired and have no recourse except on the federal level," said Ashley McCullough.
House Bill 2 states: "no person may bring any civil action based upon the public policy expressed herein."
This means discrimination lawsuits, which include discrimination cases based on race, religion and more, can no longer be brought to local and state courts. They have to be filed in federal courts.
Neighbors also pointed out the law will have an economic impact on Gaston citizens.
They cite PayPal's decision to cancel relocation plans, which would have created 400 jobs in Charlotte, as evidence this law hurts Gaston County citizens. With other businesses threatening to leave Charlotte, neighbors worry the economic situation can only get worse.