Lawmaker relates story of “regular guy” constituent with transgender child harmed by HB 2

In a letter to the Asheville Citizen-Times, State Representative John Ager of Buncombe County offered a compelling and plainspoken explanation yesterday of his vote against House Bill 2, which ushered in North Carolina’s new discrimination law.

“It was never really about the bathrooms. They were the hook, the Trojan horse to do so much more to North Carolina citizens and local government; a political ploy as fodder for the 2016 election.

Regarding the bathrooms, bad behavior of any sort should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but making rules that are unenforceable is never a good way to go. It was never about safety. If there were real safety issues, the General Assembly would not have allowed private businesses and venues (like Charlotte Motor Speedway and BoA Panthers stadium) to follow the same procedures as the Charlotte ordinance. Why would I not believe that I have been in the bathroom with not only transgender persons, but gay men as well? The safety issue is actually being taken care of with the spread of family bathrooms that can be locked and kept private. North Carolina has added them to their highway rest stops, as have airports.

HB 2 puts into law that Big Government in Raleigh will dictate to local governments what they can and cannot do. It will not be a collaborative effort to create good government, but our way or the highway. It turns out that the water and airport transfers were only the beginning.

HB 2 removes workplace protections in North Carolina. You can be fired for your race, religion, national origin, age, sex and disability and have no recourse in state courts for a discrimination law suit. You can only file suit in federal court, which is a lengthy, cumbersome and expensive process.

HB 2 has branded our state as intolerant. A long list of corporations have condemned the law. They have been trying to wring out discrimination from their cultures, and attract the best talent on the market. Investment in North Carolina could take a hit. The NBA All-Star game could be moved out of state. I was pleased to see HB 2 condemned by the Montreat Conference Center, located in my district.

While I was writing this opinion piece, a Buncombe County father called to tell me his family story.

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Yet another cancellation as a result of HB2 — NC settles in for a siege

The cancellations, boycotts and protests are coming in so fast from around the country that it’s almost impossible to keep track of the negative reactions to North Carolina’s new discrimination law. Here’s the latest from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC):

“ICYMI, yesterday, Architectural Digest editor in chief Margaret Russell and publisher and chief revenue officer Giulio Capua announced the cancellation of their annual spring party at the High Point Market due to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT HB 2. Russell and Capua said in a statement:

‘The Architectural Digest team supports the design industry and will attend the upcoming High Point market, but we have decided to cancel our annual spring market cocktail party on Sunday, April 17, as a celebration no longer feels appropriate given the discriminatory law North Carolina passed last week. We are firmly dedicated to the American principle of equal rights for all regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race or religion, and we have made a donation to the Human Rights Campaign in support of their extraordinary work to protect these basic civil rights for everyone, everywhere.’”

According to HRC President Chad Griffin:

“The decision by Architectural Digest illuminates the terrible situation that North Carolina’s elected leaders have created for business leaders committed to equality — they are forced to decide whether they can continue their work, and their special events, in a state that does not embrace all its citizens. We thank Margaret Russell and Giulio Capua, and the entire Architectural Digest team, for their thoughtful decision and their support of our ongoing work ensuring that all Americans are afforded the same rights and protections.”

The new cancellation comes as more than 120 CEO’s and business leaders around the country have called for repeal of HB2. Unfortunately, of course, Governor McCrory and the other forces behind the new law remain, like so many other defenders of discrimination throughout history — from 20th Century American segregationists and South African defenders of apartheid to so many modern day dictators and religious zealots in countries throughout the world — defiant and unrepentant.

All of which leads to the obvious conclusion that we are in the early stages of what appears quite likely to be a lengthy siege — an extended period during which North Carolina (like apartheid South Africa or even modern day Iran and South Korea) will be the object of exclusion and ostracism by much of the civilized modern world). In other words, things are going to get worse and a lot of people are going to suffer economically for some time in the state until the inevitable rollback of the discrimination law takes place.

What a ridiculous mess state leaders have made.

(Note: moments after this post went up, PayPal announced that it was cancelling plans for a 400-employee expansion in Charlotte in response to HB2.)


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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As pressure mounts, McCrory flails wildly

Pat McCrory 4There’s an old adage from the world of law that goes like this: If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. If the law is on your side, pound on the law. And if neither the facts nor the law is on your side, pound on the table.

Pat McCrory has quickly resorted to pounding on the table in his attempt to defend the new state discrimination law he signed under cover of darkness last week.

As summarized in the post immediately below by Clayton Henkel, the Guv is lashing out at critics and, in the tried and true tactic of troubled and embattled politicians everywhere, blaming the news media for his problems.

Unfortunately for the Governor, this tactic isn’t going to work. Having been prodded and dragged into this giant mess by ideologues in his own party, McCrory is now quickly emerging as the fall guy on the national scene for the disastrous special session and the state’s latest bottom-of-the-barrel assault on common sense and decency. Indeed, if ever McCrory harbored any notions of further advancement in national politics (admittedly, it was always a long shot anyway), those hopes have pretty clearly been dashed once and for all by the latest fiasco and his utter inability to manage the matter (or even to coherently and credibly explain his position). Other cities and states are already implementing bans on travel to North Carolina.

The best path going forward? Cut your losses Governor. Convene a panel of review, meet with business leaders and call for lawmakers to repeal the new law and disavow the whole thing. You can just say that you and they got carried away with good intentions and confess that you screwed up. It’s going to happen sooner or later anyway. Why not get ahead of things for a change and on the right side of history?

As the Winston-Salem Journal noted this morning in an editorial calling for such action, it will also be in your own political best interests:

“This isn’t the first time the legislature has wasted taxpayer money on a bill that constrains local government. No doubt some legislators hope to campaign on the hot-button issue. Their opponents will do the same, pointing to their wasteful and discriminatory attitudes.

This law may feel good to the GOP leadership now in the warmth of spring. But November will be here before they know it, and it could be a cold one.

The GOP leaders should rescind House Bill 2, if for no other reasons than it will cost them votes and the state money.”


ACLU Legal Director, discrimination case plaintiff, national small business expert to join Charlotte’s Mayor Roberts at tomorrow’s luncheon

Mayor Jennifer Roberts

Mayor Roberts


Rick Glazier

Chris Brook

Chris Brook


Joaquín Carcaño (at right with fellow plaintiff Angela Gilmore)

Tim Gaudette

Tim Gaudette







A few seats still remain for tomorrow’s special Crucial Conversation with Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts on the state’s decision to overturn her city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

Click here for more information.

We’re also happy to announce that tomorrow’s event will feature introductory remarks by N.C. Justice Center Executive Director Rick Glazier as well as brief presentations by three additional experts on the controversy:

Chris Brook — Brook is Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, where he oversees the organization’s legal program and its work on a wide range of constitutional law issues, including LGBT rights, racial justice, and religious liberty.

Joaquín Carcaño — Carcaño is a UNC-Chapel Hill employee and plaintiff in the lawsuit filed filed early this morning by the ACLU, Lambda Legal and Equality NC.

Tim Gaudette — Gaudette is Outreach Manager at nationally-based Small Business Majority — a business-run group that helps debunk right-wing mythology and stereotypes regarding the needs and opinions of American small businesses.

Hope to see you there.