In case you had any doubts, this morning’s lead editorial in the New York Times makes clear what a source of national and international ridicule state leaders have now made North Carolina:
Transgender Law Makes North Carolina Pioneer in Bigotry
Officials in Charlotte, N.C., spent more than a year carefully considering and debating an antidiscrimination ordinance that was passed in February to promote the city’s culture of inclusiveness. State lawmakers quashed it on Wednesday by passing an appalling, unconstitutional bill that bars transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity and prohibits cities from passing antidiscrimination ordinances that protect gay and transgender people.
Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the bill into law late Wednesday, said it was necessary to undo Charlotte’s ordinance, which included protections for gay and transgender people, because it allowed “men to use women’s bathroom/locker room.” Proponents of so-called bathroom bills, which have been introduced in state legislatures across the country, have peddled them by spuriously portraying transgender women as potential rapists.
That threat exists only in the imagination of bigots. Supporters of the measures have been unable to point to a single case that justifies the need to legislate where people should be allowed to use the toilet. North Carolina is the first state to pass such a provision.
North Carolina lawmakers must have recognized that careful scrutiny of the bill would have doomed it. They convened a special session on Wednesday — which cost taxpayers $42,000 — to ram the bill through. The House allowed for 30 minutes of public debate, limiting speakers to two minutes. The Democrats walked out of the Senate in protest.
Inexplicably, lawmakers slipped a provision in the deceptively titled “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act” that prohibits cities from setting a minimum wage higher than the state’s, which is $7.25 per hour. That appears to be largely symbolic because local jurisdictions in North Carolina generally don’t have the type of broad authority required to pass minimum wage requirements.
Under the law, people in North Carolina are required to use public restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificate. Transgender people in the state can request to have their birth certificate changed only if they have had gender reassignment surgery. Many transgender people cannot afford surgery or choose not to have it.
By promoting the ludicrous idea that transgender women are inherently dangerous, the law endangers citizens who are already disproportionately vulnerable to violence and stigmatization. Transgender men go largely unmentioned in bathroom bill debates, but that could change. James Parker Sheffield, a transgender man with a beard, exposed the foolishness of the law in a tweet to the governor. “It’s now the law for me to share a restroom with your wife,” he wrote, attaching a photo of himself.
North Carolina could face serious economic repercussions from the law. It can expect a backlash from leading employers, a potential cut in federal education funding and lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the law. American Airlines, which has a hub in Charlotte, and PayPal, which recently announced it would create 400 jobs in the state, are among several companies that have already criticized the law.
Mr. McCrory, who is running for re-election, may have assumed the bill would help him in a tight race against Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat who called the measure shameful. “Not only does this hurt North Carolina families, but it hurts our economy as well,” Mr. Cooper said in a video message. Voters should reject the candidate who made the state a pioneer in bigotry.”