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Jul 9, 2013

Equality NC Joins National LGBT Organizations, Business Leaders to Push for Employment Protections

Stuart Campbell, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina, addresses the media about the importance of LGBT employment protections in North Carolina. (July 9, 2013)

Charlotte, N.C. - North Carolina's leading LGBT advocacy organization, Equality NC joined leaders from other LGBT advocacy groups and representatives from regional and national businesses today at a press conference highlighting the need for expanded employment protections for LGBT workers.

Equality NC executive director Stuart Campbell stood with HRC President Chad Griffin and leading business leaders to demonstrate the broad and growing business support for employment protections. Tomorrow, a key U.S. Senate Committee will take up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) – legislation that would provide workplace protections to the LGBT community. Both of North Carolina’s Senators, Kay Hagan and Richard Burr, sit on the committee considering ENDA tomorrow.

"We're excited to once again partner with the Human Rights Campaign as we join forces to make North Carolina a better place for all North Carolinians, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. HRC was a vocal and visible partner during Equality NC’s fight against Amendment One, and we are proud to once again stand side-by-side to fight against LGBT discrimination by working together to pass federal and statewide employment nondiscrimination legislation."

Campbell's full remarks:

My name is Stuart Campbell and I am the Executive Director of Equality NC. I want to say how excited I am to once again partner with HRC as we work to make North Carolina a better place for all North Carolinians, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. HRC was a great partner during Equality NC’s fight against Amendment One, and I am pleased to be side-by-side once again fighting against discrimination by working to pass federal and statewide Employment Nondiscrimination legislation.

Almost two weeks ago, the Supreme Court handed down two historic decisions that reaffirmed what we already knew, that our relationships are just as real, just as valid, and just as worthy of equal treatment under the law, as anyone else’s.

These decisions were historic and we are still coming to understand exactly how truly far reaching the opinion striking down the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” really is. We have no doubt that ultimately, this decision will be the underpinning for future decisions related to Amendment One and all of the other state laws and amendments that prohibit marriage equality. In fact, as many of you know, the ACLU of North Carolina – with the full support of Equality NC – announced just this morning its plan to challenge Amendment One and North Carolina’s version of DOMA in Federal Court by amending their current lawsuit pursuing second parent adoptions.

These same decisions also point out how much work we still have to do. Less than half of the states in the country have laws that protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered employees against discrimination. Unfortunately, North Carolina remains one of those states where you can be fired just because of your sexual orientation or gender identity.

But here in NC we are ahead of the curve. Over the last several years, Equality NC has partnered with businesses, faith and community leaders, and elected officials in urging members of the North Carolina General Assembly to adopt a statewide ban on workplace discrimination against LGBT North Carolinians. In a first step, there is currently legislation before the General Assembly that would protect teachers and state, city and county employees against discrimination.

In the meantime, we are also working in cities and counties across the state to enact ordinances that will protect their employees against discrimination. And today, we join HRC and business leaders in calling on North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr to once again, do the right thing, by supporting fairness and equality and vote for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, or ENDA, when it comes up for a vote in Committee tomorrow. Sen. Burr has been a leader in equality by voting to repeal Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell, and we once again ask him to stand on the right side of history and support the freedom to work.

The recent victories in the Supreme Court come as a result of the tireless efforts of thousands of activists across the country who for years have been fighting for full equality. The next victories for equality will be the product of partnerships like this one, and the tireless efforts of thousands more, who will stand for nothing short of full equality.

Now more than ever we need business leaders to come forward - be vocal and visible - in support of the freedom to work for gay and transgender North Carolinians. I am pleased to have the honor of introducing some of those business leaders here today.

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