Commentary

Nikki Haley: Making Pat McCrory look foolish again on LGBT discrimination law

Gov. Nikki Haley

It’s a sad commentary as to how far things have fallen in North Carolina over the last five years that the state continues to be taken to the cleaners by the more open and forward thinking policies of…South Carolina. But the evidence continues to pile up.

While North Carolina can’t get get Duke Energy to even clean up its own parking lot, South Carolina has long since embarked upon an effort to move all of its coal ash to lined landfills. When the battle over Atlantic Ocean offshore drilling took place, it was South Carolina’s Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford who actually helped lead the opposition, in stark contrast to Pat “Drill, baby drill!” McCrory.

And now, it’s happening again. Columbia’s The State newspaper reports that both Governor Nikki Haley and the state Chamber of Commerce are making their North Carolina counterparts look like neanderthals over the issue of LGBT discrimination:

“S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday that a proposed law to limit the bathrooms that transgender people can use is not needed.

Haley said her office has not received any complaints about the issue, adding South Carolinians are respectful to people of different backgrounds.

‘I don’t believe it’s necessary,’ the Lexington Republican told reporters. ‘There’s not one instance that I’m aware of.”

‘When we look at our situation, we’re not hearing of anybody’s religious liberties that are being violated, and we’re again not hearing any citizens that are being violated in terms of freedoms,’ she said. ‘Like it or not, South Carolina is doing really well when it comes to respect and when it comes to kindness and when it comes to acceptance. For people to imply it’s not, I beg to differ.’

Meanwhile, the state’s main business group lashed out at the chief sponsor of the transgender-bathroom bill.

The S.C. Chamber of Commerce will campaign actively against state Sen. Lee Bright, a Spartanburg Republican seeking a third term this year, chamber president Ted Pitts said Thursday. The chamber had concerns about Bright’s Senate performance before he introduced his transgender bill, Pitts said. Bright has three GOP primary challengers.

‘Sen. Bright is trying to create a political crisis that doesn’t exist to save his political career,’ said Pitts, a former chief of staff to Haley. ‘Meanwhile, our state has real issues we need to address, including crumbling roads and a (workforce) skills gap. We’ll be working on electing serious senators next year who will be focused on addressing the state’s infrastructure and workforce needs, and limiting government’s role in our lives.’

Several states have passed or are considering anti-gay laws, leading to some outcries from businesses.North Carolina has passed HB2, banning local laws protecting employment and housing rights based on sexual orientation and identity, and Mississippi has passed a law allowing businesses to refuse service to customers based on the business owners’ religious beliefs.

‘This is not a battle that we’ve seen is needed in South Carolina,’ Haley said. ‘It’s not something that we see that citizens are asking for.'”

No wonder Haley is a rising star on the national scene. Meanwhile, McCrory and the NC Chamber’s right-wing boss Lew Ebert wonder why the rest of the nation have made them and the state they’re wrecking the butt of jokes.

Commentary

Jim Jenkins: The HB 2 mess will get worse before it gets better

Columnist Jim Jenkins of Raleigh’s News & Observer gets it right this morning in an essay entitled “Losses won’t cause GOP to back down on HB2.” After detailing the enormous damage the new discrimination law is causing to the state in the form of lost jobs and economic activity and Governor McCrory’s debilitating obvious panic, he puts it this way:

“So with the legislature set to come back to town later this month, some moderates are reckoning that lawmakers will of course act on the first day to reverse themselves, to repeal the law.

They won’t. For this is about more than sexual orientation and gender identity, which are no business of the government.

No, the complicating factor here is that House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President pro tem Phil Berger have been overseeing a sort of war on the cities, curbing taxing rights, even trying to redraw lines for local elections to give the GOP an advantage.”
In other words, caring and thinking people need to be prepared for a long haul fight. Here’s Jenkins’ conclusion:

“So this isn’t about some kind of clash between snobs in the cities and small town folks. It’s about Republicans wanting to stick it to the Democrats who carry clout in the cities. But if ever there were a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face, this is it.

Those tens of millions of dollars that are spent on conventions in Charlotte and Raleigh are spread out to all the communities in the vicinity of those cities and beyond. Prospective employers looking at cities for headquarters will have their workers living in towns within a 50-mile radius. And some of those businesses might build satellites in more rural areas. The cities may be the hub of economic activity, but the wealth can be shared, and already is.

But no truce is likely. And the casualties are mounting.”

Hang in there people. As in so many areas, victory will require us to outlast some very troubled, but determined adversaries.

Commentary

Basketball great Charles Barkley on HB 2: NBA needs to move All-Star game out of Charlotte

Go Charles! Give ’em heck. This is from the Washington Post:

Charles Barkley

Image: Freedom For All USA

The 2017 NBA All-Star Game is 10 months, but Charles Barkley is urging the NBA to pull the league’s glittering weekend out of Charlotte after North Carolina passed a law that bars the extension of civil rights protections to gay and transgender people.

“As a black person, I’m against any form of discrimination, against whites, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, however you want to phrase it,” Barkley said in a CNN interview. “It’s my job, with the position of power that I’m in and being able to be on television, I’m supposed to stand up for the people who can’t stand up for themselves. So I think the NBA should move the All-Star Game from Charlotte.”

For all the cutting up he does on a TV set, Barkley can be deadly serious when it comes to social and cultural issues. A year ago, he urged the NCAA to move the Final Four out of Indianapolis when a similar law was passed by the Indiana legislature.

“Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me,” Barkley said. “As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities.”

The NBA hinted that moving the 2017 game was on the table last week.

Commentary

18 questions, 18 answers: The real facts behind House Bill 2

Rick GlazierIn case you missed it, last week, Rick Glazier, the Executive Director of the NC Justice Center (the parent organization of NC Policy Watch) has prepared an excellent and comprehensive analysis of North Carolina’s new all-purpose discrimination law  (which is commonly referred to as HB 2 — the bill that made it law).

Please feel free to share it widely.

18 questions, 18 answers: The real facts behind House Bill 2
By Rick Glazier

For the past week politicians across North Carolina have defended House Bill 2, claiming that the real facts behind the law have been misconstrued or misinterpreted by the public.

My 18 questions and answers on HB 2 deal with the real bill that passed – not the one Governor McCrory wishes had passed. Eighteen is an important number in my religion – it is the number we use that stands for the “joy of life.”

How ironic.

1. Does HB 2 eliminate any state law claim for wrongful termination of an employee on the basis of the color of a person’s skin?

Yes. The last sentence of section § 143-422.3 does so explicitly. And Representative Bishop (the sponsor of the bill) was forced to admit that in committee and on the floor of the House. Now only Mississippi and North Carolina provide no state law remedy for any type of employment discrimination.

2. Does HB 2 eliminate any state law claim for discrimination in the workplace on the basis of national origin or ethnicity?

Yes.

3. Does HB 2 eliminate the existing state law remedy that now protects (but no longer will) a Christian who has been terminated from their job on the basis of religion?

Yes. § 143-422.2 specifically states: “The regulation of discriminatory practices in employment is properly an issue of general, statewide concern, such that this Article and other applicable provisions of the General Statutes supersede and preempt any ordinance, regulation, resolution, or policy adopted or imposed by a unit of local government or other political subdivision of the State that regulates or imposes any requirement upon an employer pertaining to the regulation of discriminatory practices in employment, except such regulations applicable to personnel employed by that body that are not otherwise in conflict with State law.”

It’s an interesting provision because the next provision states, “This article does not create and shall not be construed to create or support a statutory or common-law private right of action, and no person may bring any civil action based upon the public policy expressed above.”

So, essentially, the last sentence renders the first sentence impotent. A right you cannot enforce is not a right – it is a platitude. In this case we effectively recognize the man in uniform, but then fail so much as to give him a passing salute.

4. Does HB 2 eliminate all existing state law remedies for women from being demoted, transferred, or terminated from their job because of their sex?

Yes.

5. Before HB 2, did North Carolina provide any protections from discrimination in employment on access to public accommodations for LGBT citizens? Read more

Commentary

Is this the most dishonest defense of NC’s new discrimination law yet? (Video)

Gov. Pat McCrory has been lashing out sporadically and incoherently at “the liberal media” in recent days and Senate President Phil Berger has been issuing startlingly dishonest and offensive statements about male predators invading women’s restrooms, but the award for “most dishonest defense of the state’s new discrimination law yet” probably has to go Lt. Gov. Dan Forest for his word-parsing, Elmer Gantry-like appearance on CNBC the other day (see below).

If you can stomach it, check out Forest’s blithe assertions in the middle of the appearance that:

  • HB 2  is “the first public anti-discrimination bill in the state’s history,”
  • “nowhere in the bill does it explicitly discriminate against transgender people,” and
  • the Charlotte ordinance said “you cannot put male or female on a bathroom stall in the city of Charlotte.”

But perhaps the most disingenuous and dangerously deceptive prevarications come in and around the five minute mark of the interview when Forest attempts to deny what the bill does to employees who are discriminated against because of their race, sex, religion or other characteristic. The new law abolishes the right of North Carolinians to sue in state court for such discrimination — thus taking away a right that’s been established law for more than three decades and placing the state in league with Mississippi (the only other state to bar such claims). But look and listen closely to Forest:

“This anti-discrimination law is actually broader than federal law and anybody who’s being discriminated against in the state of North Carolina still has protections under state law and under federal law. They have the right to go into court in the state of North Carolina and be protected for that discrimination. There’s nothing discriminatory about that.”

Did you catch the slick word parsing there? First Forest claims that people still have “protections” under state law. While that might be technically true for some people in some sense, it is effectively meaningless because North Carolinians now can no longer sue in state court to enforce such protections. And while some subset of victims of discrimination may still be able to sue in Federal courts located in the state (hence, Gantry’s, er uh, Forest’s claim that victims can still “go into court in the state of North Carolina”) this option is vastly less accessible to victims for numerous reasons. In other words, Forest’s bald faced claims are the epitome of slick, political dishonesty designed to mislead the public on a vital issue.

The Lt. Governor goes on to make several other utterly ridiculous claims (he calls the demonstrable fact that the law may endanger federal Title IX funding “a real nice leftist lie” and states that Attorney General Cooper “hasn’t prosecuted anything to protect the state of North Carolina since we’ve been in office”) but you get the idea.

The bottom line: Unlike the Governor, Forest can be a skilled and seemingly affable, if utterly mendacious, talking head — especially when it comes to advancing the agenda of the religious Right. Caring and thinking people would do well to pay attention and respond as they work to repeal this disastrous law.

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