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Equality NC on Senate Passage of Religious Refusal Bill: "Job Protections Should Apply to All."

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Raleigh, N.C. (February 24, 2015) – Equality NC, the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization, responded today to the N.C. Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 2, a first-of-its-kind religious refusal bill exempting certain public officials from issuing marriage licenses without fear of losing their jobs, if doing so “would violate their core religious beliefs.” The bill passed 32-16, including two GOP votes against (Alexander, Tarte) and two Democratic votes in favor (Clark, Ford). It now heads to the N.C. House for consideration.

Equality NC’s Executive Director Chris Sgro immediately responded to the vote, condemning the legislation as a "shot across the bow" of the state's LGBT community.

“Even though this narrowly-tailored bill does not specifically mention same-gender couples, this type of legislation nevertheless represents a shot across the bow of the LGBT community,” said Sgro. “At a time when the N.C. General Assembly should be taking up job protections that apply to all North Carolinians, Senate leaders have instead chosen to protect the employment of a few anti-LGBT North Carolina magistrates who turned away loving, committed same-gender couples – couples who are legally-entitled to all services this state provides, regardless of the beliefs of those providing them.”

Sgro and Equality NC predict this bill is only a prelude to more broadly-written legislation, to be filed in the 2015 session by Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam (R-Wake), who has publicly vowed to push a religious refusal bill specifically targeting the LGBT community.

Sgro added, “In the wake of constant threats from extremists in our state legislature, and the anti-LGBT industry they serve, we ask our supporters to join us right now as we prepare to fight this, and any attacks on LGBT North Carolinians, during this legislative session."

Equality NC has already fighting back against Stam’s suggested legislation, inviting their supporters to call and email legislators to demand they stop any legislation that would give state officials or others a “license to discriminate.” In addition, the statewide organization is calling on the governor to veto any religious refusal bill that comes across his desk.

During the 2015 session, Equality NC will also propose legislative updates to the state’s non-discrimination policies, in an effort to protect the state’s gay and transgender workers, who remain unprotected under North Carolina law.

“While some have chosen to champion the employment prospects of a small number of taxpayer-funded state officials who have refused to abide by the law, we’ll be focused on saving the jobs of thousands of hardworking North Carolinians, who can currently be fired for reasons that have nothing to do with job performance,” said Sgro.

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