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LGBT Rights Leader Joins North Carolina Legislature

Chris Sgro
Chris Sgro

Chris Sgro, who's filling out the term of a state representative who died, says repealing the anti-LGBT House Bill 2 will be a priority.

One of the top opponents of North Carolina's anti-LGBT House Bill 2 is now a member of the state legislature.

Gov. Pat McCrory Thursday appointed Chris Sgro, the executive director of Equality North Carolina, to serve the remainder of the term of Rep. Ralph Johnson of Greensboro, who died last month, The News & Observer of Raleigh reports.

McCrory, who signed the controversial bill into law, didn't have a choice about appointing Sgro, the paper reports. A state statute required him to accept the recommendation of the Guilford County Democratic Party Executive Committee, and committee members chose Sgro.

Sgro said repealing HB 2 will be his focus in the legislature, which reconvenes April 25. The legislature went into special session March 23 to pass the bill, which prevents municipalities from enacting or enforcing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances, bars workers from suing for discrimination in state courts, and prohibits transgender people from using the restrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-segregated facilities that comport with their gender identity, if those facilities are located in government buildings. Lawmakers passed it quickly to prevent a Charlotte antidiscrimination ordinance from going into effect.

Many businesses, politicians, and entertainers have spoken out against HB 2. Deutsche Bank and PayPal have both canceled plans to expand in North Carolina because of it, several states and cities have banned official employee travel to the state, and some entertainers have canceled performances in North Carolina, while others have given proceeds from their shows to LGBT groups.

Sgro will be the only openly gay member currently in the legislature, but not the first. That distinction went to Julia Boseman, a state senator from 2005 to 2011. Marcus Brandon was the second, serving as a state representative from 2011 to 2015.

Sgro won't have a long term. Amos Quick, a school board member in Guilford County, won the Democratic primary for the House seat last month, and he has no opposition in the general election, so he will take office in January, The News & Observer reports.

Still, Sgro is likely to make an impact, said North Carolina Democratic Party chairwoman Patsy Keever. "Chris Sgro is an excellent choice for this seat, and I know he'll do a great job working for all North Carolinians in the upcoming legislative session," she told the Raleigh paper. "As a strong and vocal advocate for the LGBT community, Chris has the experience and the skills to continue our fight against HB 2, Gov. McCrory's discriminatory, job-killing law."

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