News

Greensboro Columnist Susan Ladd on personalizing HB2

Like the rest of us, Susan Ladd – columnist for the News & Record in Greensboro – read former N.C. Governor Pat McCrory’s recent complaint that people don’t want to hire him because, after he signed and defended HB2, people seem to think he’s some kind of bigot.

But Ladd saw something deeper.

As she writes in a column in today’s paper:

But McCrory’s poor-pitiful-me comments did accomplish one positive thing, albeit in a completely self-serving way:

They personalized the effects of HB 2.

Citing last week’s N.C. Policy Watch story featuring transgender advocates Ames Simmons and Candis Cox, Ladd said we could all stand to look beyond the often-discussed economic impact of HB2 to the human costs. Even – and perhaps especially – the GOP lawmakers most responsible for it.

Ladd breaks it down:

Perhaps McCrory, Berger and Moore should consider for a moment what life would be like in the shoes of a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender North Carolinian. What if Pat McCrory had to hide his marriage to Ann or risk being fired? Or if, having been fired for his spousal relationship, he had no legal recourse against his employer?

Suppose Phil and Pat Berger wanted to stay at a cozy bed-and-breakfast inn in the mountains but were turned away by the owner, who disapproved of their relationship. Suppose Moore had to fear being beaten to death in a public restroom for wearing a suit?

That’s the reality for LGBTQ North Carolinians and has been for decades. HB 2 solidified legal discrimination, in addition to endangering transgender North Carolinians with its bathroom provisions.

Suppose lawmakers said your rights didn’t matter because your numbers were few. Suppose they put your rights to a vote.

Berger and Moore apparently lack the empathy to imagine such a scenario, and McCrory has a history of only feeling sorry for himself where HB 2 is concerned.

They also lack factual backing for their claims that transgender people are a threat to non-transgender people or that allowing them rights would enable sexual predators.

Statistics show that transgender Americans are far more likely to be targets of violence.

Yes, HB 2 is hurting the economy. But most important is the damage it is doing to our fellow North Carolinians.

News

N.C. lawmaker: retaliate against NCAA, ACC for HB2 boycott

This year HB2 cost North Carolina a 7 NCAA and 10 ACC events — and unless it’s repealed soon, the losses will likely continue for years.

As some lawmakers scramble to come up with a repeal solution, one Republican legislator has a different idea: go on the offensive against the NCAA and ACC.

N.C. Rep. Mark Brody (R-Monroe) announced this weekend he’ll be filing a bill to “determine whether the NCAA and the ACC have violated their tax-exempt status by engaging in political or lobbying activities.”

In a Facebook post, Brody launched a broadside against  the sports organizations, calling their boycott of the state “economic extortion.”

“The NCAA and the ACC have allegedly engaged in excessive lobbying activities that exceeded their respective charters by using economic retaliation against NC for the purpose of forcing the General Assembly to adopt social legislation that is not connected to their core mission,” Brody wrote.

“I believe the NCAA and the ACC have stepped out of bounds and, to the best of my ability, will never allow the General Assembly to relinquish its legislative authority over the internal affairs of the state or succumb to economic extortion to and from either the NCAA or the ACC.”

While other Republican politicians have made similar criticisms about the NCAA and ACC moves, most are trying to patch up the relationship that is not only economically important to the state but deeply ingrained in its culture.

 

News

“Vital Action” rally to repeal HB2 today

A number of LGBTQ advocacy groups will hold a rally at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to call for a full repeal of HB2.

Equality NC, the North Carolina Association of Educators and the Human Rights Campaign will be joined by transgender activist Candis Cox on the Morgan Street side of the Old State Capitol in downtown Raleigh.

“The rally will set the stage for the legislative week to come as lawmakers are running out of time to fully repeal HB2 and prevent the NCAA from barring North Carolina from hosting championship and tournament events through 2022,” Equality NC said in a press release Thursday.

“Losing the NBA All-Star Game because of HB2 has already cost North Carolina $100 million in economic activity; economic losses from a continued NCAA boycott could top $250 million. The total economic losses from HB2 so far are estimated to be over half a billion dollars,” the release said. “HB186  — essentially HB2.0 — does nothing to address the discriminatory measures enshrined by HB2 and continues to single out LGBTQ people for discrimination.”

This week N.C. Policy Watch spoke with Cox and Ames Simmons, director of transgender policy at Equality NC, about HB2 repeal and the frustration of many LGBT people at the direction and progress of repeal efforts.

News

House committee continues to vet bill to punish “sanctuary cities”

As Tuesday afternoon’s N.C. House Judiciary II committee got under way, it was quickly apparent to Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford) that House Bill 63 – the “Citizens Protection Act of 2017” – was not quite ready for prime time.

Blust, who chairs the committee, said he’d hoped to have a vote on the bill Tuesday – but the committee will instead have to have its third hearing on it next week.

It’s the opinion of the chair we need to take sufficient time to get all questions answered,” Blust said. “We certainly don’t want to rush something through and get something wrong.”

Committee members had a lot of questions about the bill, aimed at increasing penalties for producing and selling fake IDs and withholding state controlled funding from “sanctuary cities” that don’t cooperate with state and federal laws on immigration. A number of members of the public also came to speak against the bill – some experts on immigration and the law.

Hanz Christian Linnartz, a Raleigh immigration attorney, said he was most concerned with the bill’s third section, which would create “a rebuttable presumption against pre-trial release of certain undocumented aliens.”

Linnartz said there is no evidence that the undocumented are a greater flight risk than anyone else and that judges already have the discretion to deny pre-trial release if it is warranted.

Rep. Joe John (D-Wake) echoed that sentiment. A former judge on the N.C. Court of Appeals, Superior Court and District Court, John said he was uneasy with curtailing judicial discretion.

“So the discretion is taken away from the judge, even on something as simple as using a fake ID?” John asked.

Chris Storie of Granite Falls said she’d like to see that discretion curtailed in cases involving undocumented people.

The one person who came to speak in favor of the bill, Storie shared her personal story with the committee. Her brother, Joe Storie, was struck and killed by a drunk driver in 2011 while on vacation in Kill Devil Hills. The driver, an undocumented man from Honduras, was released on bail and fled.

Storie said an American suspect “wouldn’t have known how to flee like illegal immigrants do.”

Other experts, from domestic violence advocates to an OGGYN from UNC Hospital, spoke against the bill saying it is likely to make immigrant communities less likely to seek help from authorities when they need it or even get proper medical care because they will become more afraid of interacting with the government.

“The rebuttable presumption that there will be no bail is very problematic,” said Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford). “We’re obviously going to have to discuss this more but I think it’s constitutionally suspect – and we’re setting up a situation where we’re treating certain people more harshly. Obviously, as we heard from some people today, that can have consequences.”

News

HB2 compromise also attacked from the political right

Last week we saw several press conferences calling for the end of gridlock on repeal of HB2.

Among those calling for the law’s repeal last week was LGBT advocacy group Equality N.C., which called HB186 – touted by its sponsors as a compromise repeal – no compromise at all.

This week, we have a reminder that forces on the political right also oppose the bill, which would create a system whereby legal protections for LGBT people would be put to referendum votes across the state.

HB2 has brought boycotts against the state and generated international headlines, prevents local anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people and requires those in government-owned buildings to use bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates.

Republicans and Democrats are both now working to repeal the law – though they can’t agree on how it should be done.

The conservative N.C. Values Coalition took credit for the failure of a repeal effort back in December and, according to recent e-mails from the group, they’re doing it again.

“It’s working. They’re listening,” a N.C. Values Coalition e-mail said of opposition to current repeal efforts. “I have had a number of General Assembly members contact me to thank us for your outreach. Others have been shocked by the sheer volume of your messages. Even more important, many legislators have begged us to keep it up.”

“They told us the grassroots outreach is making a real difference, and it’s desperately needed right now,” the e-mail read. “We can’t stop. We’ve already scored a victory by preventing a repeal by NCAA’s deadline. However, a number of the sponsors of HB 186 and other like bills are still trying to get HB2 repealed. Some are even Republicans who voted to pass HB2. Besides the co-sponsors, there are also other Republicans on the fence that need to hear from you.”

The coalition has opposed HB186 from the start — one of the few things the group has in common with organizations like Equality N.C. and the ACLU.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest – who has won praise from the N.C. Values Coalition – was in Texas Monday morning touting HB2 and supporting a similar law being considered in the Lone Star state.

Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are scrambling for a repeal before North Carolina loses another six years of NCAA championships, but Forest said the economic impact of HB2 has been overblown.

At a Monday press conference, North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin denounced the efforts to scuttle a repeal.

“North Carolinians are sick and tired of House Bill 2 and the damage it’s causing our state,” Goodwin said. “Despite public widespread opposition to keeping House Bill 2 on the books, Republican leaders are actively undermining political support for any compromise. It’s time for Republicans in the General Assembly to show some leadership and join Governor Cooper in working to find a solution.”