United Methodist Women put feet to their prayers Monday afternoon as they gathered at Marshall Park in Charlotte, North Carolina, to stand for justice and demand repeal of the state’s House Bill 2, officially titled the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act but popularly referred to as the “bathroom bill,” as it mandates that people use the restroom that corresponds with the gender listed on their birth certificates.
The bill also bans cities from raising minimum wage above the state minimums and eliminates state protections against discrimination based on race, religion, nationality, physical ability or sexual orientation. This forces people to go to federal courts to redress such violations, which is a more expensive process.
“We stand with the people of North Carolina because fear of those different from us is not a reason to enact restricting laws,” said United Methodist Women National President Shannon Priddy. “We rally today with citizens of North Carolina because everyone deserves the opportunity to earn a living wage today without the restriction of what the future may bring. HB2 does not build community; it pulls it apart.”
United Methodist Women was in North Carolina for Leadership Development Days, an event contracted before HB2 passed. United Methodist Women chose to use its presence in the state as an opportunity to speak out against the injustices of HB2, especially to add voices to those in Charlotte already doing the work to repeal the bill.
“First I want to say thank you for being here,” said Charlotte City Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield, who spoke at the rally. “This was the right choice. We need you; it’s just that simple. We need your voices. We need your support. We need to have you standing right alongside us.”
Michelene Mathews, president of the Metro District United Methodist Women of the Western North Carolina Conference, thanked rally participants for their solidarity as well.
“As United Methodist Women our advocacy is for justice and rights for everyone. We are the children of God, and we are the ones who are supposed to lead by example,” said Mathews. “Make sure that you contact the person who represents your district, your area, and let them know that we need to have HB2 repealed immediately.”
During the rally participants took action by calling State Senate President Pro-Temp Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore and asked them to repeal HB2.
“People of North Carolina: House Bill 2 is an act of injustice enacted under the guise of protecting women and children,” said the Rev. Rodvegas Ingram, social coordinator and vice chair of Western North Carolina Black Methodists for Church Renewal. “This bill is hurting women, children and men instead of protecting them. The hurtful things of House Bill 2 have nothing to do with a bathroom.”
At the rally members displayed art they’d help create during Leadership Development Days with the help of God Is in the Graffiti, an initiative by The United Methodist Church’s General Commission on Religion and Race to help place a new lens on religious symbols in street art.