It was about a governor who decided his state will sanction discrimination against not only transgender people, but all homosexuals. It was about a governor who thinks it’s acceptable to make it harder for black men and women to sue for employment discrimination.It was, in the end, about a 21st century governor who joined a short, tragic list of 20th century governors. You know at least some of these names, probably: Wallace, Faubus, Barnett. They were men who fed our worst impulses, men who rallied citizens against citizens, instead of leading their states forward. …… Once again, we are a state that is notably choosing discrimination, just as North Carolina did in 2012 when it was the final state to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage.This week, as then, North Carolina needed a leader who understood the damage this law might do — most importantly to its vulnerable citizens, but also to the face we present to businesses and workers considering our state.Instead we got a late-night bill signing Wednesday and some campaign tweets. We got a state newly stained, and a governor joining a sorrowful list of those who decided not to lead us forward, but to bow to the worst in us.
In North Carolina, however, it’s painfully obvious that official state policy is hostile to the gay and transgender communities. From Amendment One to a law allowing state officials to refuse to facilitate legal same-sex marriages to, now, repealing local protections against discrimination, the state of North Carolina has made it abundantly clear that this population is unwelcome — whatever attitudes cities hold to the contrary.It’s disappointing that Gov. Pat McCrory immediately signed the bill. A sweeping measure with statewide impact was introduced, voted on and signed into law all in one day, with virtually no time allowed for public and business input — although major corporations are sounding alarms now.It was a sad day for North Carolina and its cities.
The issue here is fodder for political ads and fundraising, featuring lurid fears about a group that is at best misunderstood and at worst ostracized, a group with few defenders that is custom-made to demonize.The LBGT community is, as was often the case with the Amendment One debate, essentially being equated with child molesters. …… It’s no surprise they’re hoping to find a group less popular than themselves to be the attention of the public’s focus.They need a devil. Sadly, they’ve decided their own constituents will suffice.
Polls indicate that most North Carolinians don’t share the Republican lawmakers’ alarm. They think it’s better to let a local government decide the bathroom-choice issue, or to settle the matter through a local referendum. Meanwhile, 17 states and more than 200 cities and towns have passed non-discrimination laws protecting gender identity in public spaces.And there is, of course, the irony of these Republican lawmakers rushing to Raleigh to protect children in the bathroom after they’ve done so little to help them in the classroom, or in life in general. That 1 in 4 North Carolina children live in poverty, that many lack access to pre-K and after-school programs, that many children’s families would be helped by the expansion of Medicaid and the restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit have not spurred the legislature to action.All of this would seem to suggest that holding a special session on this matter — particularly over the objection of the governor, who usually calls for such sessions — is a complete waste of time and money. But there is one value in this special session. It will show in its discriminating, single-issue fixation the recklessness and foolishness of the Republican leaders and those who follow them.The flaws of this session will not be obscured by double-talk about education funding and fairy tales about trickle-down tax cuts. This will be about one thing, and that thing will not be about bathrooms. It will be about legislative incompetence, how much it has cost North Carolina’s people and how much it has diminished the state’s appeal as a welcoming and progressive place.
It is time for our North Carolina legislature to mature, to improve, to move beyond fear as an impetus to discriminate and start to do what is ethical. It is time to end the discrimination against black, trans, queer, disabled and indigenous communities. It is time for justice. …… This bill is wrong beyond repair. This law is a chapter in America’s horror story. The very notion that this bill could in any way serve the public or securitize the public from an ominous threat is outlandish. Instead of focusing on the “biological sex” of a person, might we empathize and work to include those who are different from us in body and mind in our public spaces.