Commentary

So-called “libertarian” group endorses religious right’s pro-discrimination law

It’s bad enough that North Carolina elected officials are enshrining discrimination and ignorance in state law today at the behest of the theocratic far right, but now comes word that the inhabitants of the John Locke Foundation — an group that likes to fancy itself as “libertarian” and that has long bragged that it stays away from divisive “social issues” like reproductive freedom and LGBT equality — has cast aside all pretense and is now on board with the scheme.

Today, the Locke people distributed an essay about the subject of the special session in which the author endorsed striking down the Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance because it constitutes an assault on property rights. We are not making this up. This is from today’s Locke Foundation “Economics and Environment Update”:

“What is overlooked is that the the primary targets of this ordinance are privately owned businesses that offer bathrooms or other facilities — possibly showers in the case of fitness centers — for their customers’ convenience. The decision of how to structure access to these bathrooms may, for some, be based on their religious beliefs.  For many others it is a secular business decision. Their goal is customer satisfaction driven by the desire to make a profit and earn a living.  The property that they use is privately owned, the investments that they make come from private funds, and those who reap the rewards or suffer the losses are private entrepreneurs. The bathrooms in their establishments are part of the product that they provide.

In a free society based on property rights and free markets, as all free societies must be, a privately owned business would have the right to decide whether or not it wants separate bathrooms strictly for men and women biologically defined, bathrooms for men and women subjectively or psychologically defined, completely gender neutral bathrooms with no labels on the doors, or no bathrooms at all.“(Emphasis supplied.)

Did you get that and the implications of where the author is headed? According to the Locke people, all of those 20th Century civil rights laws and Supreme Court decisions outlawing discrimination in public accommodations were a monstrous overreach and an infringement on that most holy of all things in life: private property rights. By the “logic,” employed in this essay, this is how that last paragraph would read if the troubled souls in Locke Land had the guts to fully admit in public what they really mean:

“In a free society based on property rights and free markets, as all free societies must be, a privately owned business would have the right to decide whether or not it wants separate bathrooms strictly for WHITE PEOPLE AND PEOPLE OF COLOR biologically defined, bathrooms for WHITE PEOPLE AND PEOPLE OF COLOR subjectively or psychologically defined, completely RACE NEUTRAL bathrooms with no labels on the doors, or no bathrooms at all.”

To which, all a caring and thinking person can say in reply is: Well, at least everyone now knows where things stand and where the people driving policy in our state really want to take us.

Commentary

Tomorrow’s special legislative session: Uninformed sausage making at its worst

3-7-16-NCPW-cartoonThere are a lot of reasons to be disgusted that state lawmakers will return to Raleigh tomorrow for a one-day special session to repeal Charlotte’s new anti-discrimination ordinance.

Here’s one, however, that will probably get lost in the shuffle: It’s less than 24 hours to the start of the session and we don’t have any real idea of what the legislation will say. Indeed, the General Assembly website has no mention of the session at all. Oh sure, there are all kinds of rumors out there — the bill will only be about bathrooms; the bill will bar all such anti-discrimination ordinances; the bill will go even further and forbid local living wage ordinances — but the plain truth is that no one in the public has any idea what will actually be considered and voted on.

This means that state lawmakers will almost certainly pass an important new law tomorrow that no one in the public has even read before. There will be no chance for meaningful hearings, no time for thoughtful public input, no time to hear from constitutional experts or from the scores of cities across America with similar ordinances.

If the public is allowed to speak at all, you can rest assured that it will be the usual offensive drill in which a parade of six or eight people will be given a minute of two each to address a packed committee room. It will, in short, be modern North Carolina General Assembly sausage making at its worst — a hastily convened kangaroo session that will be little better than the gussied-up mob rule one might have expected in some 19th Century frontier territory.

Caring and thinking North Carolinians should be outraged and sickened that such a farce will be carried on in their name and with their tax dollars.

Be sure to check out this afternoon’s edition of the Fitzsimon File for an up-to-the-minute takedown of tomorrow’s hate-fest.

Commentary

Pat McCrory, Tim Moore, Phil Berger, Dan Forest: Not smarter than a sixth grader

As the post below indicates, North Carolina’s elected leaders will take the latest step in their five-year-long crusade to make our state a symbol of discrimination and exclusion (not to mention a national laughingstock) tomorrow when they call a special session to pick on transgender people. It is an act of such transparent ignorance and ill will that even a child can see through it.

Proof of this can be found in today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer in which a sixth grader from Durham deftly puts all of these hypocritical old men in their place. Here is Joanna de Andrade’s essay: “McCrory’s hypocrisy unfair to transgender students.”

“One of my best friends is transgender. At our school, the policy for bathrooms as it is across Durham Public Schools is that students who are transgender use the teacher bathroom. But this is an issue at many schools due to the lack of teacher bathrooms on all floors of the school.

At our school, we have two teacher bathrooms, both on the first floor. We have three floors. In the sixth grade, students have only one time designated to go to the bathroom without needing a pass or missing class and work time. This time is lunch. Our lunch is on the third floor. This means that if my friend needs to use the bathroom, he needs to walk up and down two flights of stairs.

Gov. Pat McCrory has been making hypocritical statements. A couple months ago he stated that local school districts should be able to make the decision if transgender students and workers can use the bathroom of their gender. Then just recently Charlotte made a decision, and McCrory wrote a letter to the attorney general that made it seem that transgender people who need to use the bathroom are criminals and people who are going to put your children at risk of harm.

He used firm statements like “disregard the safety and privacy concerns of parents and students.” Another strong statement was, “This will remove local districts’ flexibility and force the federal government’s views on all of our schools.” Then he stated, “Let’s defend our schools and protect the autonomy of our local school districts.” This letter is showing McCrory’s hypocrisy. Now, many people have a similar opinion to McCrory’s, and this opinion is that it puts cisgender people at risk. They say that some people may pretend to be transgender just to “stalk” people in the bathroom.

My response is that maybe someone might do this, but he or she will be caught, and some people just need to use the bathroom.

I don’t think that it is very fair to force people to go all the way to a bathroom two stories up just because they aren’t biologically a boy or girl. May this bring to light inequalities that face our world and show that, as young as middle school students are, we can make a difference.

Joanna de Andrade, 11, is a sixth-grader at Lakewood Montessori Middle School in Durham.”

Commentary

Don’t miss Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts at next Tuesday’s Crucial Conversation luncheon

NCPW-2016-03-29-clt-ordinance-roberts

N.C. Policy Watch invites you to a special Crucial Conversation luncheon:

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts: Why the General Assembly should not repeal my city’s nondiscrimination ordinance

Click here to register

In this most volatile of election years, there have been a lot of efforts by cynical politicians to manipulate voters with misinformation regarding importa

nt issues. Here in North Carolina, however, it will be difficult to top the efforts by state leaders to misrepresent and disparage the city of Charlotte’s new nondiscrimination ordinance.

As multiple news outlets have reported, their most prominent tactic has been to assert that a provision in the ordinance that allows transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity is somehow a threat to children and will open the door to sexual predators.

As Chris Fitzsimon recently noted:

“It’s nonsense of course. As you have read here before, roughly 250 local governments across the country, including Columbia, South Carolina, have similar rules in place and there haven’t been any problems….But this isn’t about evidence or public safety. It is about politics, rallying the far-right religious base with a divisive social issue.”

According to multiple reports, the General Assembly may even call itself into special session prior to its scheduled April 25 return to overturn the ordinance.

Join us as we discuss this important issue with an elected leader at the center of the battle: Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts.

Mayor Roberts was raised in Charlotte, and now she and her husband, Manley, are also raising their two children there as well. During her professional career, she has worked as a diplomat for the US Department of State, serving in the Dominican Republic as a consular officer and then as a political officer on the Mexico Desk.

During her years in Charlotte, Roberts has been Director of the Mayor’s International Cabinet, a lending officer in International Corporate Banking at First Union, and executive director of the Charlotte World Affairs Council. She has also served on the Mecklenburg County Commission as a member and chairperson. She was elected Mayor in 2015.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from this important leader on this controversial matter.

Click here to register

When: Tuesday, March 29 at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: North Carolina Association of Educators Building, 700 South Salisbury St, in downtown Raleigh

Parking is plentiful at this venue, but space for the event itself is limited – preregistration is required.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com

Commentary, News

Equality advocates to lawmakers: Please don’t legislate in favor of hate and discrimination

Erica Lachowitz

Charlotte resident Erica Lachowitz

A group of human and civil rights advocates gathered in front of the state Legislative Building this morning to plead with state lawmakers and Governor McCrory not to try and override the nondiscrimination ordinance adopted by the city of Charlotte.

As we have reported previously, conservative legislators are threatening to call a special session of the General Assembly prior to next month’s scheduled return in order to take precisely such action. The explanation for the action: the professed (and illusory) concern that the law’s guarantee of access to public restrooms for transgender people will somehow serve as an invitation for male sexual predators to enter women’s restrooms.

At this morning’s event, a long list of speakers stood up to patiently explain the absurdity of this rationale. Perhaps most impressive among the speakers, however, was Charlottean Erica Lachowitz a transgender woman, who noted that she has known her true gender since she was five years old. In quiet and patient but powerful remarks, Lachowitz explained that she understood the fear and confusion of people who haven’t had the opportunity to learn about the reality of what confronts transgender people, but called on them to learn. She also noted the danger that she feels and has felt (both for herself and her child) for years whenever she was unable to use a women’s restroom and pleaded with lawmakers not to try and force her back into the dangerous situations from which she has, effectively, escaped.

Lachowitz was joined at the podium today by the Rev. Nancy Petty, Pastor at Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, two Triangle-area business owners, spokespersons for Equality NC and the ACLU of North Carolina, Charlotte City Council member John Autry and other religious leaders.

Petty decried the trend evident in the recent actions of North Carolina elected officials to enshrine discrimination and exclusion and called on leaders to follow the teachings advanced by multiple faiths to elevate love and compassion over hate.

Autry pointed out the need for the Charlotte area to be a modern and welcoming city if it wants to continue to thrive economically and generate 32% of the state’s economic activity.

In her remarks, Sarah Preston of the ACLU pointed out that if there’s any violence or harassment taking place in public restrooms, transgender people are vastly more likely to be the victims rather than the perpetrators. She noted that fully half of transgender people report being harassed and 8% say they have been physically assaulted simply for being who they are.

Though news reports indicate that majorities of both the House and Senate have expressed a desire to convene a special session, legislative leaders have not indicated yet whether or not they will actually do so.

Stay tuned.