Carolina on my mind, part one

My state has made national headlines again.  Unfortunately, it’s not exactly something I want to write home about.

Our legislative leaders have their collective head up their ass.

In February 2016 Charlotte, NC passed a nondiscrimination ordinance expanding LGBT protections.  In a stunning example of leading the state of North Carolina while simultaneously playing catch up to multiple large cities in America (ones that already have a LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance in place), Charlotte’s legal protections seem pretty straightforward.  It was due to go into effect on April 1st.

The ordinance prevented businesses in the city from discriminating against gay, lesbian, or transgender customers, adding them to the list of citizens protected on the basis of race, age, religion, and gender.  It applied to “places of public accommodation” (i.e. bars, restaurants, and stores) as well as taxis.  The clause that got everyone’s panties in a twist was the bathroom provision.  This would allow transgender residents to use either a men’s or women’s restroom, based on the gender with which they identify. (Harrison, Steve. “Charlotte City Council approves LGBT protections in 7-4 vote. The Charlotte Observer. 22 Feb. 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.)

To recap: Charlotte passed a nondiscrimination ordinance similar to ones already being enforced in a number of cities.  An ordinance that protects United States citizens from discrimination in their own country.  Land of the free, home of the brave, and all that jazz.  It sounded like a step in the right direction to me.

But the next thing I knew people were running around like their hair was on fire, raving about setting predators loose in the bathrooms with “our daughters and granddaughters.” North Carolina’s House speaker threw down the gauntlet with a vow to overturn the ordinance, and Governor Pat McCrory climbed on board promising his support.

The state legislature took it and ran.

On March 21, 2016 North Carolina legislative leaders announced they were calling a special legislative session that week in response to Charlotte’s “controversial” LGBT ordinance.  Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who oversees the Senate, and House Speaker Tim Moore issued a joint statement: “We aim to repeal this ordinance before it goes into effect to provide for the privacy and protection of the women and children of our state.”  (Morrill, Jim. “NC Lawmakers heading for special session Wednesday to discuss special ordinance.” The News & Observer. 21 Mar. 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.)

Side note: A special session costs about $42,000 a day…apparently someone thinks we’re swimming in money over here.

Which brings us to HB2, the law shoved through the General Assembly in its one-day session and signed by the governor that same night.  (You can read the law here.)  Forest and Moore’s concern extended far beyond Charlotte’s restrooms, though.  HB2 did not merely eradicate the LGBT ordinance in Charlotte; it also nullified all local ordinances around the state intended to expand protection for the LGBT community.

North Carolina’s new law specifies statewide the classes of people protected against discrimination – race, religion, color, national origin, age, handicap, or biological sex as designated on a person’s birth certificate.  Sexual orientation is not specifically listed as a protected class under state law, leaving gays and lesbians without legal safeguards.

People who are transgender who have not yet taken both surgical and legal steps to change the gender on their birth certificates are bound (lawfully speaking) to that sex.  They have no legal right to use a bathroom accommodating the gender with which they identify, and HB2 has made it impossible for cities and counties to establish a different standard based on their local needs.

Some other notes about HB2:

  • HB2 limits the rights of those who aren’t gay or transgender regarding claims of discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, biological sex, or handicap in state courts.
  • Other states that are proposing similar measures blocking LGBT rights: Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
  • Someone in North Carolina can be fired for being gay or transgender.  HB2’s language indicates the state will not be creating a new class of protections and won’t allow local government to create the protected class itself.

While Charlotte’s ordinance might have been the first of its kind in North Carolina, three cities in South Carolina (Columbia, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach) have similar ordinances.   They, along with more than 200 other cities around the country with comparable ordinances, have not reported problems with transgender bathroom use. (Gordon, Michael; Price, Mark S.; Peralta, Katie. “Understanding HB2: North Carolina’s newest law solidifies state’s role in defining discrimination.” The Charlotte Observer. 26 Mar. 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.)

————————————————————

I hardly know where to begin.

In 2015, the United Health Foundation ranked North Carolina 31st in the nation.  Our state faces a high obesity rate, high infant mortality rate, and a large disparity for health based on income level.  The NEA shows that salaries for NC public school teachers declined by 17.4% over a ten-year period (2003-2004 to 2013-2014).  The Annie E. Casey Foundation report released in 2015 ranked NC 35th for child well-being.  The number of NC children living in poverty increased by 25% since 2008, and our state tied with Texas and Kentucky for the 11th highest child poverty rate in the country.

In short, we have a plethora of urgent issues requiring our attention.  Are you seriously telling me North Carolina spent $42,000 making sure the lady in the next stall doesn’t have a penis under her dress?!  Are you freaking KIDDING me?!

Let me count the ways this makes no sense.

  1. I am at greater risk of being attacked by one of the very manly men using their restroom than from the trans women in my own.
  2. The pedophiles that linger outside restrooms to follow my son pose a greater risk to him than a trans woman does to my daughter.
  3. A Google search for “transgender violence” brought up multiple articles, but they had names like Sexual Assault: The Numbers; Responding to Transgender Victims and Transgender Murder Victims: Why the Homicide Rate is So High and Shocking Facts about Transgender Suicide.  Not one hit about transgenders attacking women or minors, so Mr. Forest and Mr. Moore can just settle down about who’s peeing next to me.
  4. The state government wasn’t satisfied allowing each community to make their own measured decisions about what their constituents wanted.  They felt it appropriate to lock down LGBT protection for the entire state.  What the hell do they think transgenders are planning?  A coup?

I’m stunned.  I can’t believe the state legislature slammed this through in a day, and I can’t believe the governor signed it that night amid a flurry of overbearing paternal condescension.

Tomorrow’s post will look at the fallout North Carolina’s experiencing from the passage of HB2.

7 thoughts on “Carolina on my mind, part one

  1. Our state infamously did the same thing last year. Still no protection for the LGTB community here. :/ Now we’re frying other fish. Hopefully this year brings us a new Governor, at the very least.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: familiarity breeds understanding | Riddle from the Middle

  3. Again, it is not the transgenders that supporters of the HB2 are trying so desperately to protect our children from. We welcome them and would stand up with them against anyone. It is the perverts who will take advantage of this law and if you do not think they are out there, you are very naïve and do not know anyone in law enforcement who can back up this claim. It is NOT the transgenders and it is heartbreaking that those like yourself refuse to hear the other side. Supporters of the HB2 are the ones being discriminated against when our rights are not being considered along side those such as yourself who refuse to acknowledge the truth in what we are saying and only choose to falsely claim that NC’s stand is against the LGBT community. I am sure we have been using the bathroom with trans all along, they have been using the bathroom they most identify with before all this started. It’s only that they are wanting to be recognized and by so doing, open the door for anyone to ‘identify’ and waltz right in. Honestly, do you believe we live in a world where that would not happen?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective, Tammi. I’m glad to hear an HB2 supporter say they’d be willing to stand with transgenders against anyone. I’ve seen and heard a few too many comments that land anywhere between “those who dress against their natural sex” and “deviants with unnatural tendencies” (both phrases I’ve actually read online), and they’ve left the impression that HB2 supporters have a problem with transgenders. This is an assumption I shouldn’t make of all supporters.

      I’m far from naive about the perverts in the world — I’ve always been vigilant when it comes to my kids and the potential dangers they face. I know what’s out there and yes, I do know a few people in law enforcement. Believe it or not, I have listened to the HB2 supporters’ arguments. I just disagree with them.

      Do I believe there’s zero chance a predator would dress the part to access the women’s room? No, because there’s no such thing as a zero possibility. But I believe in logic, reason, and statistics. The reality is that 4 out of 5 rapes are committed by someone the victim knows — a friend or acquaintance, an intimate, or a family member (RAINN). The concept that assaults will increase simply because the door is opened to a fake transgender isn’t based on fact, it’s based on fear tactics. Yes, I hear that you think this could happen. I also know that 1 out of every 6 American women is the victim of rape in her lifetime. Rape is an enormous problem and has been for a very long time due to factors that have been at play much longer than laws providing restroom access for transgenders.

      One last point: the phrase that troubles me most here is “It’s only that they are wanting to be recognized…”
      Of course they are. Would you want to live in a country that insists you remain invisible? I have a hard time reconciling your statement that HB2 supporters are discriminated against while at the same time saying there’s a population undeserving of recognition at all.

      Like

  4. Pingback: Carolina on my mind, part two | Riddle from the Middle

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