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.