IT IS pretty clear that nothing was going to deter North Carolina lawmakers from their blind rush to enact legislation sweeping away basic protections for gay, bisexual and transgender people. Debate was a hasty 30 minutes; the span between introduction and the governor’s signature a mere 12 hours. Completely ignored were constitutional concerns about discrimination, potential harm to individuals or the reality that the supposed crisis being addressed (dangerous bathrooms) is a concocted issue.
Since facts and human decency seem to hold no sway with the state’s lawmakers, we can only hope that threatened boycotts of North Carolina by companies and others appalled by last week’s events open some eyes to the need to repeal this hateful law. Other states that are considering following suit — including Georgia, where a bill legalizing LGBT discrimination has been sent to the governor — should realize that bigotry is not only wrong but bad for business.
The measure signed into law late Wednesday by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) prevents local governments from extending civil rights protections to gay and transgender people and also bars transgender people from using bathrooms that do not match the gender they were born with. The effort, which Mr. McCrory tried to justify as stopping “the breach of basic privacy and etiquette,” was triggered by the adoption in Charlotte of an anti-discrimination ordinance. Mr. McCrory’s hyperbole is rooted in fiction about the supposed dangers of transgender people using public restrooms that don’t match the gender on their birth certificates. Despite the lack of any credible evidence of this ever being a problem, efforts to legislate toilet use have proliferated across the country, emerging as a wedge issue.
It’s been encouraging to see major businesses willing to take a leadership role in speaking out against ignorance and prejudice. A number of high-profile companies, including Disney, Marvel, Time Warner and the National Football League, have threatened to pull out or curtail their business in Georgia if Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signs a bill that under the guise of “religious liberty” legalizes discrimination against the gay and lesbian community. Raising concerns about North Carolina’s law were such companies as American Airlines, Wells Fargo and the National Basketball Association.
“We believe no individual should be discriminated against because of gender identity or sexual orientation,” read a statement from American Airlines, which has a hub at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. “Laws that allow such discrimination go against our fundamental belief of equality and are bad for the economies of the states in which they are enacted.” It is a principle that one would have hoped government leaders in the United States in the 21st century wouldn’t need to be reminded of.