Commentary

Revealing claim from HB2 supporter: Law is about stopping “unbridled sexual license”

There have been a lot of amusing moments over the last four weeks in North Carolina since the passage of HB2 (“amusing” in the sense that they want to make you laugh so you won’t start crying). There’s been the spectacle of Senate leader Phil “I’ve never met a corporate tax cut that I didn’t like” Berger solemnly informing us that he doesn’t bow down to corporate pressure. There was the laugh-out-loud nonsense of Gov. McCrory and others attributing the actions of scores of major national corporations, nonprofits and governmental bodies — almost all of which employ gaggles of in-house lawyers and lobbyists — to a “misleading smear campaign” by leftist activists.

But perhaps the most outrageously absurd and unintentionally illuminating claim from an HB2 supporter was the one made this past weekend on the editorial pages of Raleigh’s News & Observer by the N.C. Family Policy Council’s John Rustin. Read how Rustin wraps up his op-ed “Cutting through the liberal propaganda on HB2”:

“Opponents of House Bill 2 are mad that the Charlotte City Council was rebuked for its overreach of legal authority. They are mad that HB2 pre-empts their efforts to open public bathrooms and showers to individuals of either sex. And they are mad that HB2 curtailed their efforts to impose a radical social policy of unbridled sexual license on our state. Unfortunately, the media are propagating the smear campaign, and many levelheaded citizens have been confused and misled by it.” (Emphasis supplied.)

Sometimes, you really have to wonder what’s circulating in the minds of the sex-obsessed folks on the religious right.

“Unbridled sexual license”?

What the heck does that even mean? Is it the opposite of “bridled sexual license? And what in the world could it possibly have to do with whether people are discriminated against because of who they are and where they can find a place to use a restroom in peace?

The bottom line: Throughout the HB2 debate, the loudest defenders of the law have been the folks on the religious right, who keep making clear that what they’re really demanding is a state legal framework in which LGBT people are not acknowledged as human beings. This can be seen in the way people like Rustin almost always include terms like sexual orientation and gender identity in quotations (as he did in the N&O essay) to show that they’re not even legitimate descriptive terms.

What this particular essay also reveals, however, is something else that we should have remembered  about the religious right — namely that its age-old obsession with/fixation on sex and the thought that somebody somewhere is enjoying it in a way they find icky or unacceptable is still fully in force. And, at some basic level, that remains what all of the recent commotion in North Carolina is all about.

Commentary

Editorial puts it as plainly as possible: “Rescind this travesty called HB2”

One of the best editorials of this past weekend comes from Saturday’s Winston-Salem Journal. Here it is in its entirety:

As the legislature arrives in Raleigh Monday for its short session, we have one important message: Rescind House Bill 2. Rescind it for financial, legal and moral reasons. Throw it away and forget about it. Act like this embarrassment never existed.

Major corporations have withdrawn their investments in North Carolina because of HB2 and threaten to withdraw more. They would prefer to do business in states that welcome and treat everyone with respect. HB2 does the opposite. Hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs are at stake.

Rescind it.

HB2 has become the poster child for government overreach, initially promoted as a response to a city bill about bathroom usage, then morphing to impede civil rights, citizens’ access to state courts and cities’ and counties’ ability to regulate their own affairs.

Rescind it.

North Carolina has a long-standing reputation as a good place to call home, a major tourist destination, a leader in higher education, a “valley of humility between two mountains of conceit.” Now, because of HB2, we’re a national joke, a late-night TV punch-line and, when it comes to moderate political climate and civil rights, firmly planted below South Carolina and Virginia. Below South Carolina.

Rescind it.

There is no credible documented evidence of the threat of sexual assault from transgenders, who have for decades been using the facilities that the legislature is attempting to block from them. There is no credible documented evidence of the widespread threat of sexual assault from faux transgenders. These are campfire ghost stories that the legislature and conservative special-interest groups are reciting to drum up support. Legislation motivated by fear-mongering later leads to shame.

Rescind it.

Those who appeal to morals for blocking transgenders from necessary facilities seem to actually know very little about transgenders aside from the campfire stories they’ve swallowed. Discrimination and denying equal rights out of ignorance, pettiness or sectarianism is never moral.

Rescind it.

And, if nothing else is persuasive, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers North Carolina, just cleared the way for transgender individuals to use the bathrooms that align with their gender identity. The legislature has lost. All it can accomplish now is to waste copious taxpayer money when the issue inevitably goes to court.

State Senate leader Phil Berger has surely heard these pleas already, from the business community, from other legislators, from legal advisors and civil-rights advocates. Yet he told The Associated Press last week that he doesn’t think the law needs to be altered and has no plans to do so. In his obstinance, he’s hung Gov. Pat McCrory, who suggested moderating the bill, out to dry. Berger has done the same to North Carolina citizens. We hope someone will be able to speak sense to him.

For these reasons, we call on the legislature to revoke the nightmare of HB2 and let us get back to tackling the state’s real problems together. Rescind it. Rescind it all.

Meanwhile, legislation to accomplish the task has already been distributed in advance of the legislative session that convenes tonight.

Commentary

Charlotte Observer: NC Chamber needs to end its silence on HB2

Another good editorial in this morning’s Charlotte Observer highlights a question that observers of the HB2 crisis have been noting for weeks: Where the hell is the NC Chamber? Many people, of course, think the Chamber has cut a cynical deal to stay silent on the LGBT discrimination aspects of the law in order to win a desired end to employment discrimination lawsuits. Here’s the Observer:

“Everyone has an opinion about North Carolina’s House Bill 2 – even Donald Trump. Everyone, that is, except the state’s largest business group.

The North Carolina Chamber says it has 35,000 members who employ 1.26 million N.C. residents. It is widely regarded as the most influential business advocacy group in the state.

Yet with HB 2 roiling the state and particularly its business community, the Chamber and its CEO, Lew Ebert, have remained silent.

Asked this week what the Chamber thinks about HB 2 and whether it will take a public stand, VP of Communications Kate Catlin offered this statement, in part:

‘We run our businesses based on a factual understanding of the challenges we face. The North Carolina Chamber is conducting an analysis of the recently passed law, HB 2.’

That was precisely the same statement the Chamber issued three weeks ago, shortly after the HB 2 backlash ignited. The Chamber, it seems, has made little progress on its analysis in those three weeks.

The group’s silence raises questions about what’s driving it. Is the Chamber’s apparent acquiescence on the anti-LGBT provisions the price it pays for other elements that it’s more passionate about? HB 2 blocked cities from passing minimum-wage laws, a feature the Chamber surely endorses. And it banned employees from filing a state cause of action if they think they were fired due to their race, age, gender or other protected classes in violation of anti-discrimination laws.

Or does the Chamber remain on the sidelines because it more generally doesn’t want to cross a legislative leadership that enacts deep corporate tax cuts, reduces unemployment benefits and passes other business-friendly measures?

There must be some explanation, because the backlash nationally and within the state’s business community demands that the state’s most influential business group weigh in.

That’s why the Raleigh Chamber called for the legislation to be repealed. It’s why the Charlotte Chamber has expressed concern – though it stopped short of calling for an outright repeal. It’s why businesses such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Time Warner Cable, RedHat and dozens of others have expressed their opposition.

Many of those companies are N.C. Chamber members, which suggests a deep split in the membership. Are those companies OK with the Chamber taking a pass? If not, perhaps they should do more to persuade it to speak up or even ultimately leave the organization.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and the Indiana legislature blocked or rolled back similar discriminatory measures. They did so backed by a vocal business community. N.C. legislators face less such pressure because the N.C. Chamber is not exerting it.

Why isn’t it? Either the Chamber agrees with the discriminatory intent of HB 2 or it is holding its tongue to preserve its influence with legislators.

Either one is disappointing, and out of step with what many of its biggest members want.”

News

NBA commissioner reiterates criticism of HB2, makes clear All-Star game will be moved if law not repealed

HB2National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver reiterated his criticism of HB2 this morning on the nationally broadcast ESPN radio program “Mike and Mike.” While Silver — who went to college at Duke — declined to set a deadline by which the law must be repealed in order to avoid cancellation of next year’s NBA All-Star game (which is scheduled to be played in Charlotte next February) — he also left little doubt that the game would, in fact, be moved to another state if HB2 is not repealed.

Silver said that it “would be problematic for us to move forward with our All-Star game if there is not a change in the law.” He also stated that the NBA has made it clear just “how problematic the law is that they passed in terms of its discriminatory nature” and that North Carolina leaders “know what’s at stake — at least in terms of the All-Star game.” Silver also stated that the NBA was standing by to let North Carolina lawmakers “do what they know they need to do” and that North Carolina “has always had a reputation as a progressive southern state” and that he believed “they’re going to do the right thing.”

You can listen to the entire interview by clicking here (the relevant section of the interview can be found at around the 1:07:00 mark of the podcast).

Commentary

Editorial: Berger, McCrory should rise above irrational fears and learn

There is another fine editorial in this morning’s Greensboro News & Record on House Bill 2 and the recent Fourth Circuit decision striking down Virginia’s discrimination against a transgender high school student. Its central message: HB 2 proponents need to stop, listen and learn. here’s the excellent conclusion:

“Unfortunately, instead of inviting dialogue, McCrory signed HB 2 only 12 hours after it was introduced. The lack of discussion was almost as frustrating as the impact of the ill-considered legislation.

In its opinion, the court noted public comments at a school board hearing in Gloucester County, Va., calling Grimm a ‘freak’ and a ‘dog.’ In North Carolina, transgender people have been equated to predatory men who want to disguise themselves as female so they can prey on girls in women’s bathrooms.

‘House Bill 2 was our effort to stop this insanity, and I hope this proves the bathroom safety bill has nothing to do with discrimination and everything to do with protecting women’s privacy and keeping men out of girls’ bathrooms,’ N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger said Tuesday.

What Berger calls ‘insanity’ modern medicine calls complexity. A group of 20 pediatricians with specialty training in endocrinology wrote to McCrory: ‘As professional experts in the field of chromosomes and genital anatomy, we provide professional consultation to our colleagues on babies in whom assigning sex may not be possible at the time of birth.’ They concluded: ‘Our patients already face major medical and social challenges and HB2 creates unnecessary hardship for these vulnerable youth. We respectfully ask you to repeal this hurtful bill.’

Grimm, the Virginia high school student, was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. People like him warrant compassionate treatment, not ridicule or worse. Hasty, uninformed lawmaking isn’t an appropriate response.

It’s natural that people react emotionally to what they don’t understand. In the end, public acceptance may be led by businesses like retail giant Target, which announced this week it will allow customers to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity. This probably is what they always have done, without anyone noticing.

The new court ruling should encourage a more reasoned discussion with consideration of medical information, not a knee-jerk political reaction.”