HB2 fires up Lake Norman meeting

Heated discussion on HB2

LAKE NORMAN, NC (WBTV) - House Bill 2 continues to fuel controversy in North Carolina. On Friday, Senator Jeff Tarte said he thinks the only solution will come from the federal courts, but his colleague Senator Joel Ford said the state needs to heal because the only people who win with this in the courts are lawyers. Ford said the citizens are paying for it.

They spoke Friday morning at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce's monthly meeting, called "Friday Focus."

The two senators said they are friends, but when it comes to HB2 they disagree. They voted differently in March, but one point they both acknowledge is that it is costing North Carolina money.

"We cannot be naive or hide from the fact that this is hurting the economy," Republican Senator Tarte, of Cornelius, said.

"House Bill 2 is quite simply... it's bad for business," Democrat Senator Joel Ford of Mecklenburg County said.

Ford does not agree with HB2.

"The heartburns that I have is the attitude and posture of our mayor and the city council, and the attitude and posture of our governor and our legislature and in between that - I'm going to describe - is us," said Ford.

Senator Tarte explained why he was in favor of stopping Charlotte's non-discrimination ordinance.

"It allows grown men to go in, and I'll frame it this way because it's the extreme, it will allow grown men to go into girls' showers," Tarte said. "I will tell you unequivocally - I will never support that. There is nothing that will allow me to do that. Now, I would of when I was 16 to 20 years old. I would have been the champion for that, but I'm not doing it today."

Tarte said there are people who support HB2, but they won't speak out about it publically as much as those who oppose the law.

"I got to tell you, you folks are creating havoc. The kids in the school that are LGBT and transgender, a lot of them fly under the radar and a percentage of them are out there. But you are making them a bigger target then they have ever been," said Arlene Berkman.

"The constitution says equality to all human beings are you proposing that transgenders are not human?" a man holding a sign asked Tarte.

Tarte took offense to the man's comment.

"If nothing comes out of this total mess, that's the one good thing, if there is a good thing, is the insight and the understanding to the transgender community. We understand their struggles hopefully a little bit more," Tarte said.

Tarte explained why he is conflicted about HB2.

"I haven't been able to find the balance between, again, the idea we shouldn't discriminate against anybody and the idea that there's a certain right and expectation of privacy," Tarte said.

"I don't think we should struggle to treat human beings with respect. To me, that's not a struggle. We are all human beings," Ford said. "I'm sitting here this morning thinking about what my colleague just said that he's struggling. I don't struggle with how to deal with other human beings, that's just not an issue for me."

After Ford made that statement, there was silence in the room and the topic changed to the I-77 toll lanes. The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce president, Bill Russell, said afterward he knew it was going to be an emotional meeting.

An attempt to repeal HB2 was made Thursday in the legislature, but the speaker of the house said it could not be an amendment to the budget because it was not relevant.

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