Outer Banks business owners, government leaders respond to “Bathroom Bill”

Posted at 11:32 PM, Apr 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-07 23:39:54-04

Nags Head, N.C. - "It's with a heavy heart" is the start of an email the owner of Village Realty recently received. It explains a family won't be renting a home on the Outer Banks this summer because of the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, known as the Bathroom Bill.

"People have a choice and people are not shy about expressing their opinions with dollars," said Bob Oakes, the owner. "They vote with their feet and we can't really afford to have that happen. Our whole economy here is based on tourism."

Oakes and another realty company owner say they've gotten negative emails and calls from people against the laws. Oakes has also had a few cancellations and worries some folks who've already booked for this year may not come back. "The concern is next year. Those folks may choose a different place to go."

The bill says people can't use public bathrooms that don't match their biological gender. Gov. Pat McCrory says he signed it to protect privacy. "There was no choice, but to pass the ordinance, which brings back basic decorum, etiquette, and privacy," he said.

Opponents believe it discriminates against the LGBT community. In response, the Nags Head Board of Commissioners recently voted to send a letter to Gov. McCrory and other state leaders asking for the law's repeal. Town Council members in Duck say they'll be voting on something similar soon.

A conference in Duck also was canceled because some of the speakers are Washington, D.C. police officers. The city's mayor recently banned non-essential travel for city employees.