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A Republican candidate running to become North Carolina’s attorney general faced criticism on Tuesday after saying “we must fight to keep our state straight” while discussing a law that restricts transgender bathroom access and gay rights.
The measure has positioned the state at the center of a debate over equality, privacy and religious freedom as states propose legislation seen as discriminatory against gay and transgender people in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that legalized same-sex marriage.
State Senator Buck Newton made the comment while concluding a speech at a rally on Monday and welcomed the idea of being considered a poster child for the law, dubbed HB 2.
The law made North Carolina the first state in the country to require transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings and schools that match the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity.
“Go home, tell your friends and family who had to work today what this is all about and how hard we must fight to keep our state straight,” he said to applause.
Read More: Reuters