Commentary

“Values” crusader exposed in confrontation with reporters over HB2

In case you missed it yesterday, be sure to check out reporter Jordan Green’s story in Triad City Beat chronicling the bizarre impromptu press conference that N.C. Values Coalition Executive Director and all-purpose right-wing social agenda crusader Tami Fitzgerald had on Monday with some members of the media after the federal court hearing on HB2. In it, Green reports on an exchange that Fitzgerald had with UNC journalism student and Indy Week intern Lily Carollo and a couple of other reporters.

After Carollo asked Fitzgerald how transgender persons who have yet to obtain new birth certificates should handle making use of public restrooms, Green reports the following back and forth:

“Carollo quickly personalized the question in a way Fitzgerald might not have anticipated. ‘I haven’t had my birth certificate updated, but I don’t have a penis anymore,’ she said. ‘Should I be allowed to use the women’s bathroom?’

‘I think you are allowed to apply for a new birth certificate so that you can,’ Fitzgerald replied.

‘What do I do in the meantime though?’ Carollo pressed.

‘Well, I think you should go right now today to apply for that,’ Fitzgerald said.

Carollo persisted.

‘But it takes three months for the birth certificate to come through,’ she said. ‘So what do I do in the meantime if I’m on campus or if I’m in a state building?’

‘I don’t know,’ Fitzgerald said before recovering her talking point.

‘Under HB 2 you should continue and use the bathroom on your birth certificate,’ she said.

Paul Garber, a reporter with the Winston-Salem public radio station 88.5 WFDD, picked up the question and took it in a different direction.

‘Look, I’m a guy and if a transgender woman wants to use the same bathroom as me, it’s not a big deal to me,’ he said. ‘But what if a very masculine looking person with facial hair who is biologically female comes in the women’s bathroom. How would you feel about it?’

Fitzgerald hesitated, as if wary of a trap.

‘You’re asking me a very hypothetical question,’ she said.

Reactions from the handful of reporters hovering nearby were immediate and visceral.

‘It’s a hypothetical, but entirely predictable situation, given HB 2,’ Winston-Salem Journal reporter Michael Hewlett protested.

‘And it’s a situation you created,’ an unidentified camerawoman seethed. (Fitzgerald is not a lawmaker, but her son-in-law, Chad Barefoot, serves in the Senate.)

After getting Garber to repeat the question, Fitzgerald acknowledged, ‘Probably there would be some discomfort before there’s a change in the birth certificate.’

Then, back to another talking point.

‘I’m more comfortable defending the right of privacy.'”

I’ll bet she is. Fitzgerald’s pathetic performance once more exposed the absurdity of this unenforceable and utterly illogical law. Happily, at the hearing that preceded Fitzgerald’s little sidewalk talk, Judge Thomas Schroeder seemed to indicate that he gets HB2’s impossible flaws. As Raleigh’s News & Observer points out in this morning’s lead editorial:

“The judge asked Butch Bowers, an attorney for one of the defendants, Gov. Pat McCrory, ‘How on earth is that supposed to work? So we are now going to have people dressed as women using the men’s room?’

Schroeder asked how this ban is to be enforced.

‘There is no enforcement mechanism of the law,’ Bowers told him.

‘Then why have it?’ Schroeder asked.

His question sounded like an answer. And it should be his answer. Always unenforceable and already widely flouted, HB2 is pointless beyond being a statement of discrimination.”

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