Judging by his recent campaign stops, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has been feeling nostalgic lately – nostalgic for a time in North Carolina’s recent past when NC Republican leaders told transgender people which bathroom they could use in public spaces.
According to WUNC and YouTube videos of these events, Robinson is yearning for the days of House Bill 2, also known as the “bathroom bill,” a law that led to international embarrassment and billions of dollars in economic losses for our state after multiple corporations, movie studios, musicians and sports leagues refused to do business in North Carolina for years.
In multiple speeches over the last several weeks, Robinson has repeatedly told crowds that transgender people who previously identified as male should be “arrested” if they go in a women’s bathroom.
At a campaign stop in Cary, Robinson said, “…if you’re a man on Friday night, and all the sudden on Saturday, you feel like a woman, and you want to go in the women’s bathroom in the mall, you will be arrested — or whatever we got to do to you.”
He made nearly identical comments at a stop in Greenville but added, “If you are confused, find a corner outside somewhere to go. We’re not tearing society down because of this.”
Legislative Republicans passed House Bill 2, which was then signed into law by former Gov. Pat McCrory in March 2016. One year after the bill became law, the Associated Press ran an analysis that showed the bill would have cost the state at least $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper helped push a repeal of the bathroom requirements in the bill just a few months into his first year in office, but the state economy had already lost nearly $3 billion, the AP reported at the time. The rest of the bill was repealed in 2020 when a remaining provision of the law expired.
Even for someone who told WRAL in 2022 that “I’m not very good at math,” $3 billion in economic losses should be enough to convince a person that any legislation that results in damage like that is a losing proposition – but that’s not the case with Robinson. It seems his hatred for LGBTQ+ North Carolinians is greater than his desire to not destroy the state’s economy.
While the eagerness to punish and degrade the LGBTQ+ community simply for existing is not a new sentiment from Robinson, his apparent belief that transgender people should be treated like animals by “find[ing] a corner outside somewhere” to relieve themselves is perhaps even more extreme than many of his past statements about the community.
In a November 2021 sermon at a Winston-Salem church, Robinson compared the gay community to “what the cows leave behind,” “maggots” and “flies.” A month before that sermon, also in a church, Robinson called all LGBTQ+ North Carolinians “filth.”
On March 19, 2023, Robinson gave a sermon at Trinity Baptist Church in Mooresville, where he told the churchgoers that the rainbow flag makes him “sick.”
“Yes, I said it. Makes me sick every time I see it when I pass a church that flies that that rainbow flag, which is a direct, a direct spit in the face to God Almighty,” he said.
Robinson’s campaign refused to comment when asked by WUNC for clarification on his comments and wouldn’t answer questions about whether Robinson wants to bring back legislation similar to HB 2.
Despite the American people’s overall general acceptance of LGBTQ+ people as regular folks who are part of our families, social circles and society, most Republican politicians feel similarly to Robinson.
According to the ACLU, there were 510 anti-LGBTQ bills filed in the U.S. in 2023. Eleven anti-LGBTQ bills were filed in North Carolina last year and five of them are now the law. The remaining six bills are considered by the ACLU to be “advancing” in the legislature.
Lt. Governor Mark Robinson is currently seeking the Republican nomination for Governor of North Carolina.