JEFFERSON-“Let’s show them what some gay people look like,” said local farmer Elizabeth West Monday morning.
West stood with her partner and two small children atop the steps leading to the entrance of the Ashe County Courthouse
gripping signs in opposition to House Bill 2. The controversial measure sets a statewide policy banning people from using public bathrooms that does not correspond with their biological sex.
The contentious law has drawn the backlash from worldwide corporations, celebrities and performing artists who are now refusing future concerts statewide as a show of unified opposition to the law.
“We are here today because we want people to see that folks like us exist in the county,” said West moments after kissing her partner as she carefully eyed supporters of HB2 file into the county courthouse.
“It’s a very hateful legislation that is rooted in white supremacy Christian fear,” West said.
West, however, was the lone minority in a sea of support for the legislation, which also prompted county commissioners to take an official stance on the politically charged bill.
Commissioners were unanimous in their decision to adopt a resolution of support for HB2. Prior to the vote, several local preachers and deacons took to the speakers’ podium, which was soon transformed into a temporary pulpit, to plea with commissioners to consider the conservative and religious nature of the county and adopt the symbolic resolution of support.
“It’s just sad some of the things that are coming into our country this day and hour,” said Pastor Jeff Brown of Emmanuel Baptist Church.
Brown used his time at the podium to tell commissioners that the United States’ founding ideals and values had recently fallen to the wayside.
“I’m not proud of a lot of decisions being made in our country…it’s jeopardizing a lot of things,” said Brown.
Many of Brown’s comments along with those opinions of others preachers, who spoke in favor of HB2, were met with resounding “amens.”
“I believe the majority of people here (today) stand behind HB2 and desire that,” said Brown. “We want to encourage you today to step behind that and send a resolution to the governor that Ashe County stands behind House Bill 2.”
‘Protect our kids’
Parents also spoke in support of the resolution, though perhaps for different reasons. Many said they believe the law is backed by common decency and a desire to protect children.
Amber Murphy used a visual aid to drive her point home to county commissioners.
“This is my daughter,” Murphy said as she held her child while holding back tears. “She’s beautiful, isn’t she? I want to keep her pure.”
Murphy then referenced a book she frequently reads to her daughter entitled “Yell and Tell.” It teaches children how to handle situations where they are potentially threatened by predators.
Much of the statewide support for the bill rests on state lawmakers’ claims that it will also protect children from sexual predators while using the restroom.
“I hope and pray each of one of you think of my children and women, too, that can be put in those situations,” said Murphy.”This is a safety issue, as much as I want to say it is Biblical. In the house bill, it mentions people can make special arrangements in certain situations and I think that’s fine, but you’ve got to protect our children. I want to stand here and be their voice so they don’t have to yell and tell tomorrow.”
Rose Price said she, too, would fight for the rights of children. Price, however, was more vocal in her plea.
“How many of y’all have grandchildren?” Price said at the podium. “How many of you all have children you are concerned about?”
Price said children should be protected and said she would not let them enter a bathroom with a man.
“Wasn’t it a registered sex offender that started this whole (transgender) mess anyway,” Price said, an inquiry that was met with a resounding ‘yes’ from the audience.
“I as a Christian, I have the right to stand here and say I don’t approve of it…it’s wrong,” said Price. “I don’t want to see someone of the opposite sex in the bathroom with my grandchild. You’ll say, ‘Well, go in there with them.’ You’re dog gone right I will. If I see a man using the restroom with my baby doll, it’s not going to be pretty. Y’all got a right to make a decision to put an end to all this foolishness.”
Following the commissioners’ vote to adopt a resolution of support, the audience burst into a loud applause. They quietly filed out of the courthouse as the remainder of the meeting continued.
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story indicated that a small child with Rose Price while she was addressing commissioners was her granddaughter. That was incorrect.