No going back on LGBTQ equality: Why Charlotte should not repeal its nondiscrimination ordinance

HB2There’s one thing you can say about Gov. Pat McCrory and the conservative lawmakers now trying to clean up their HB2 mess by attempting once again to force the city of Charlotte to repeal its nondiscrimination ordinance: they don’t give up easily. Faced with national and international condemnation and derision for their horrific homophobia, they’re still trying to pull a cynical, political win out of the fire.

Earth to the Governor and friends: There is no going back to the status quo ante. The fight for LGBTQ rights is here to stay; it is not going back in a box. All the conservative proposal to condition a repeal of HB2 on the repeal of the Charlotte ordinance would do is reaffirm the current unacceptable state of affairs in which LGBTQ people in Charlotte and the rest of our state have no legal protection from discrimination in hiring and public accommodations and transgender people are still treated as mentally ill predators. That’s no “compromise.”

Such a situation would amount to complete victory for McCrory and the forces of reaction who could claim that they had accomplished their absurd “mission” of “keeping men out of women’s restrooms.”

As Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC noted in a joint statement late yesterday:

This is the same cheap trick the North Carolina General Assembly has attempted all along, asking Charlotte to repeal crucial protections for the LGBTQ community and trust they will hold up their end of the bargain on a full repeal of HB2,” said JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs. “This arrangement would create problems, not solve them. It would require Charlotte to drop the very protections for the LGBTQ community that businesses, the NCAA and other organizations have now made clear are need and are a priority.”

“We can’t afford more antics from Pat McCrory, Phil Berger, and Tim Moore. They are the ones who got us in this situation in the first place and are costing our state millions,” said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina. “Hundreds of other cities across the nation already had in place a similar ordinance to Charlotte’s. While important to the LGBT community, it was not unique. What is unique and dangerous is HB2. It’s HB2 that cost us the NCAA, ACC, and the NBA. It’s HB2 that’s causing us economic harm, and it’s HB2 that needs to be repealed. Enough games and blame – repeal HB2.”

Not only do more than 100 communities across the country have non-discrimination protections like Charlotte, so do 19 states and hundreds of Fortune 500 companies. Just this week, the NCAA and ACC have joined more than 200 major business leaders in calling for full repeal of HB2. Repealing Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance would leave North Carolina without an “inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators and fans,” which the NCAA called for this week.

It’s true that North Carolina is not the only state to currently allow discrimination against LGBTQ people. The Governor and his friends and supporters are right that we would not be alone if we went back to the situation prior to the Charlotte ordinance. Unfortunately for them, there’s been too much water under the bridge for that now.

As with so many other reactionary and bigoted stances in history, HB2 has actually energized and expedited the movement for progress. It’s understandable that the Guv, trailing in the polls, now wants to wave a wand and make everything that’s happened in the past six months go away, but it’s simply too late for that.

The only conceivable “compromise” on HB2 that makes any sense at all is the one suggested in this column a few months back — i.e. the notion that lawmakers could pair full repeal of HB2 with some kind of new law to toughen penalties for predatory behavior in bathrooms. As was noted at the time:

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Seats going fast for next week’s luncheon with pollster Tom Jensen

Be sure to join us Thursday, September 22 for a special Crucial Conversation luncheon:

A 2016 election preview
Featuring Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling

Click here to register

Tom Jensen of Public Policy PollingThe 2016 election is headed into the homestretch and absentee voting by mail is already underway. Join us as we learn the details of where things stand and what the political world is likely to look like on November 9 with one of America’s premier pollsters, Tom Jensen of Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling.

Tom is the Director of Public Policy Polling and oversees its day to day operations. During his time at PPP he has been a frequent guest for television and radio stations across the region and has been called on for expert analysis by publications including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor and U.S. News and World Report. He writes for PPP’s blog and Twitter account in addition to crafting the content for most of its surveys. In 2012, PPP correctly predicted the winner of every state in the Presidential race, and the winner of every major Senate race.

Don’t miss this very special event!

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When: Thursday, September 22 at 12:00 noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. (At the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s streets)

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or

Commentary, News

Latest disturbing Census data: One in six North Carolinians (including one in four kids) lives in poverty

A new release from colleagues at the NC Justice Center shines a light on the dreadful reality of the North Carolina economy for more than a million and a half people:

More than 1.6 million North Carolinians lived in poverty and struggled to make ends meet in 2015, according to new data released today from the Census Bureau. Families across the state wake up to financial insecurity every day as the shortage of jobs paying family-supporting wages persists and the gap between the wealthy and everyone else widens.

One in 6 North Carolinians lived in poverty in 2015, living on less than $24,250 a year for a family of four. Nearly 1 in 4 North Carolina kids are growing up in families that can’t give them a good start in life because they make so little. Although there were small improvements between 2014 and 2015, the number of people struggling to pay the bills remains high — and it’s holding back our economy and hampering Tar Heel kids’ futures.

“Our success as a state depends on ensuring economic opportunity for everyone,” said Tazra Mitchell, a Policy Analyst at the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “Paying workers enough to make ends meet, having quality child care for their young kids so they can go to work, being able to see a doctor and stay healthy—all of these things build economic security and thriving communities.”

The new Census data show that North Carolina’s families are dealing with high rates of poverty, modest income growth, and widespread income inequality:

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This morning’s best HB2 op-ed

NO-HB2Non-sports fans may be surprised to learn that one of the best recent op-eds on the disastrous impacts of HB2 can be found this morning on the sports page of Raleigh’s News & Observer under the byline of columnist Luke DeCock. The ostensible purpose of the column is to take the Atlantic Coast Conference to task for having waited so long to take a stand against North Carolina’s all-purpose LGBT discrimination law, but it also includes several other fine observations about the law itself. Here’s the conclusion to the essay:

“What a horrible irony: Greensboro, rated the Carolinas’ most welcoming city for the LGBT community by the Human Rights Campaign, would love to continue hosting the women’s basketball tournament. Instead, because of an anti-LGBT state law, that tournament is going to end up somewhere that isn’t nearly as excited about it.

It’s just yet another way HB2, whose supporters spuriously claim it preserves North Carolina’s quality of life, keeps chipping away at it.

It was a bad law to begin with, poorly written and hurriedly passed in a shortsighted partisan gesture that has now cost the state dearly. Its heralded bathroom clauses were unenforceable, their purpose already covered by existing criminal law; its heavy-handed restrictions on anti-discrimination protections were clearly state-sanctioned bigotry.

While those who pushed it through and Gov. Pat McCrory refuse to countenance repeal, it continues to cost North Carolina not only its reputation but sports and jobs and money.

These sports events employ thousands of people who don’t get paid if they don’t happen. There are television freelancers in North Carolina who just saw six months of mortgage payments walk out of the state. There are charities that staff concession stands that will have to find new ways to raise funds. There are security people who will now be sitting at home instead of standing guard.

So you can add the ACC football championship in Charlotte, the ACC baseball tournament in Durham and all the others to the list that already includes PayPal, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, the NBA All-Star Game, the NCAA basketball tournament and so many other wonderful things North Carolina lost because of HB2, the gift that keeps on taking.

Turns out HB2 did a great job of keeping things separated: Keeping the things North Carolina loves separate from North Carolina.”

Click here to read the entire column.



Coach K reiterates: NC should repeal “embarrassing” HB2

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has previously stated his opposition to North Carolina’s all-purpose LGBT discrimination law, HB2, renewed his stance yesterday in an interview with Business Insider.

“Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski supports the NCAA’s decision to pull seven postseason sporting events, including NCAA Tournament basketball games, from North Carolina over HB2, the so-called bathroom law.

‘I’m in full agreement with that,’ Krzyzewski said Tuesday while speaking with Business Insider to promote the launch of his new leadership program, PowerForward.

Krzyzewski said he still felt the same as when he was asked about HB2 at the start of the US men’s basketball team’s training sessions in Las Vegas before the Olympics.

‘I said during the start of our practice sessions in Vegas, when asked about HB2, I said it’s embarrassing, and it still is embarrassing.’

The law prevents local governments from passing nondiscrimination ordinances for LGBT people, and it is best known for barring transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

Presumably, Krzyzewski, who in the past has been a frequent donor to conservative politicians, also agrees with today’s decision by the Atlantic Coast Conference to pull 10 championship games from the state in protest over the law. Stay tuned.