Asheville businesses push for bathroom choice

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA) – Several Asheville businesses are taking a stance against the state’s so-called “bathroom Bill” law that requires people to use the restroom that matches their birth gender in public facilities.

The law, which allows business owners to accommodate transgendered men and women, praise from some in the transgender community.

“It’s straight up discrimination,” said Veronica, a transgender woman who declined to give her last name. “The governor and a few other people are pushing their religious views onto other people.”

HB-2, also known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, was passed by the legislature in March and signed into law by Governor McCrory. This was in response to an an anti-discriminatory ordinance passed by the Charlotte City Council a month earlier. Supporters of HB-2 said it was designed to protect those in public facilities. But many said the bill was as an attack on the LGBT community.

Businesses like The Orange Peel, a concert venue in Asheville, hung signs in support of the transgender community allowing them to use the restrooms of their choice, even converting one of the restrooms to unisex.

“As a business we really put an emphasis on making sure that everyone who comes here feels comfortable,” said Dana Roberson,a spokeswoman for the venue. “We want it to be a welcoming environment for everyone.”

Many businesses in downtown Asheville, like Malaprops Books and Cafe, took a similar position.

“We thought it was really important for our customers to feel safe and feel protected,” said Linda Marie Barrett, general manager of the store.

North Carolina had been the subjects of boycotts because of HB-2. The NBA moved it All-Star Game out of Charlotte and several businesses like PayPal cancelled plans to expand in the state. That led to this week’s special session where lawmakers are now considering a repeal.

Asheville City officials were unavailable for a comment about the special session. City Council passed a resolution back in April calling for a repeal.

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