Commentary

Senate leader: I want to use the bathroom with Caitlyn Jenner too

Sen. Phil Berger

Sen. Phil Berger

image: Caitlyn Jenner's Twitter account

Image: Caitlyn Jenner’s Twitter account

Apparently worried that he would be left out of news stories covering the new right-wing crusade to target transgender North Carolinians for discrimination, abuse and humiliation, North Carolina state Senate leader Phil Berger (a once fairly reasonable fellow) has come up with his own “me too” plan for making already vulnerable humans feel worse. The following post was added to the Senator’s website this morning:

“After Attorney General Roy Cooper claimed taking action against a radical Charlotte City Council ordinance allowing men to share public bathrooms and locker rooms with young girls and women should not be a priority, Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) announced Tuesday he has appointed a Senate work group to work with the House on legislation to address the problem.

Berger appointed Sen. Shirley Randleman (R-Wilkes) as chair of the work group, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (Ex-officio member), Sen. David Curtis (R-Lincoln), Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth), Sen. Buck Newton (R-Wilson), Sen. Ron Rabin (R-Harnett), Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick), Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg), Sen. Norm Sanderson (R-Pamlico) and Sen. Jeff Tarte (R-Mecklenburg).

“Attorney General Roy Cooper has admitted state laws trump local ordinances, and he is the one person with the power to stop this nonsense and enforce our state’s criminal laws,” said Berger. “But if he refuses to do his job and protect the safety and privacy of our children, then the Senate stands ready to return to session and resolve this issue quickly.”

“Senate work group,” huh? Berger can call this thing whatever he wants — it obviously has no official role or status — but what it will undoubtedly come to be known as is the Senate Bathroom Committee. What a proud moment for our state!

And see how he slid one of the state’s chief, non-senator anti-gay rights activists, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, in there too? Very clever.

The bottom line, to update what was noted in this space a couple weeks back:

Under the McCrory/Moore/Graham/Berger theory of human gender identity, humans are who they are on the day they are born. Any alteration after that is, apparently, null and void as far as the MMGB team is concerned.

Caitlyn Jenner? Sorry, it’ll always be Bruce to the MMGB boys. Renee Richards? Forever Richard Raskind. Chaz Bono? Forever Chastity.

So, the next time celebrities descend on North Carolina for, I don’t know, a Beyoncé concert, a championship football game, a film shoot in Wilmington or MerleFest in Wilkesboro and for some reason, Caitlyn shows up to check out the scene, let’s hope our male state political leaders finds themselves in the same men’s room line with a glamorous brunette. Maybe then they can explain to her (and the rest of the world) what the heck they’re buddies were trying to prove with their shameless/shameful pandering.

Commentary

House Speaker Tim Moore joins in the demagoguery over Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance

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State Rep. Tim Moore

Quick: What’s a sure sign that a conservative politician is feeling sensitive/vulnerable about his or her performance in office and may even be grappling with hints of potential ethical problems?

If you guessed “he or she is picking on vulnerable and unpopular people and ginning up controversy on what ought to be a non-issue in an effort to pander to the worst instincts of the least well-informed and most narrow-minded members of his or her political base” give yourself a gold star.

Today’s classic case in point: North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore responding to a modest little ordinance adopted by the Charlotte City Council last night that bars businesses from discriminating against gay, lesbian or transgender people, in addition to long-standing protections based on race, age, religion and gender.

It really ought to be a complete non-issue, just as it has been in scores of cities across the country with similar laws. Indeed, it ought to be a state law so that the handful of knuckleheads around the state who want to discriminate in such a way can be required to enter the 21st century.

Unfortunately, people like Moore seldom miss a chance to spread fear and misinformation — especially if doing so is all but guaranteed to fire up the haters and fear mongers who don’t have a clue about what the heck is really going on in the world. Here’s Moore’s official statement from earlier today on the the new ordinance:

“Speaker Responds to Charlotte City Council Decision on Unisex Bathrooms

Raleigh, NC – Late last night the Charlotte City Council voted in favor of an ordinance that would that would allow residents to use either a men’s or a women’s bathroom.

‘The Charlotte City Council has gone against all common sense and has created a major public safety issue by opening all bathrooms and changing rooms to the general public,’ Speaker Moore (R-Cleveland) stated on Monday after the council’s vote. ‘This ordinance is impossible to regulate as intended, and creates undue regulatory burdens on private businesses. I join my conservative colleagues and Governor McCrory in exploring legislative intervention to correct this radical course.’”

It’s hard to adequately convey what an utter crock of bathroom waste this statement is.

But here’s a try: The Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, one of the most important elected officials in one of the largest states in the most powerful country in the world, is unwilling to acknowledge the existence of transgender human beings or their basic human right to be and live as who they are. Despite the fact that millions of people all over the planet live quite peacefully and happily in communities with such protections (including in such radical leftist towns as Charleston, Columbia and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina),  Speaker Moore is happy to spout nonsense about “unisex bathrooms” and manufacture a controversy in the North Carolina General Assembly just in time for the 2016 legislative session that convenes in April. What’s more, he’s engaging in all of this shameful/shameless pandering at a time during which he’s under assault from right-wingers in his party for being insufficiently reactionary and during which he is the subject of multiple news media stories about ethically questionable behavior.

What more do you need to know?

Commentary

ACLU: Lake Lure charter school should rescind ban on student clubs

As reported here this week:

“A Lake Lure charter school suspended all of its extra-curricular clubs last week after controversy erupted over a new club that supports lesbian, gay and transgender students.

The board of directors for Lake Lure Classical Academy, which serves students from kindergarten through high school in Rutherford County community, voted for the temporary suspension of extra-curricular activities Thursday.”

Today, the ACLU of North Carolina called on the school to reverse its decision:

“Lake Lure Classical Academy (LLCA) should promptly rescind its ban on all student-led noncurricular groups, including an LGBTQ+ student organization that was recently formed to promote tolerance and equality for all students, according to a letter sent today by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) to school officials.

At its November 12 meeting, the LLCA Board of Directors voted to suspend all student-run clubs after some community members challenged the new LGBTQ+ club. In today’s letter, ACLU-NCLF Legal Director Chris Brook explains that the federal Equal Access Act forbids schools from permitting some student groups while barring others. LLCA has a history of allowing noncurricular students organizations, including a campus Christian organization, Raptors for Christ, that has met on campus for five years.

“The LGBTQ+ club does not seek special treatment,” Brook writes in the letter. “They simply seek to be treated the same as other student groups on campus, a right guaranteed to them by the Equal Access Act.”

Read the entire letter by clicking here.

Commentary

Syrian refugees should find a home in NC

The parent organization of N.C. Policy Watch, the North Carolina Justice Center, issued the following statement today in response to Gov. McCrory’s announcement yesterday that he would oppose Syrian refugees coming to North Carolina:

Statement from the NC Justice Center: Syrian refugees should find home in NC

Times of great human tragedy are a moral test for all of us. Currently, thousands of Syrians are fleeing terror and violence from their war-torn home country. They want what we all want: a safe place to rebuild their lives. A home where their children don’t have to fear the constant threat of violence.

A few of these families have received refuge in our state. Every North Carolinian should be proud of this: it stands in the American tradition of accepting the tired, poor, huddled masses who yearn for nothing more than to breathe free.

There are many reasons, practical and otherwise, to be disappointed in Gov. Pat McCrory’s decision to oppose settling Syrian refugees in North Carolina. It ignores our constitutional system, where the federal government sets immigration and refugee policy. It also sends all the wrong signals — both to refugees here, and to people overseas who may perceive this move as hostility toward helping Muslims, even those in the most desperate of situations.

The savage acts of terror in Paris require a determined and vigorous international response. We grieve for the loss of innocent lives, and fight back our nation and the world must. But the enemy is not the Syrian refugee families and their children, struggling for a peaceful life. In fact, the terrorists caused these Syrian refugees to flee their homes in the first place. If we refuse to provide them a new, safe life and opportunity, we add only to their misery, do nothing to enhance our own security, and turn probable friends into possible future foes. We can fight terror without turning our back on our values and constitutional principles. If we turn our back on those values, the terrorists win in a different way.

When we think of how to handle tragedies like this one, we should imagine our own relatives in the position of the refugees. For many of us in this nation of immigrants, this is not especially hard: a few generations ago, it was our relatives in this position.

Like our relatives of a generation or two ago, today’s refugees just need shelter from the storm. They will find it in a place where they can settle, find work, prosper and contribute. Let this place be our nation. Let this place be our state.

Commentary

Just how low did legislators sink in final hours of ’15 session?

Pretty low, according to the editorial board of the Winston-Salem Journal. An editorial posted over the weekend highlighted the dreadful/shameless effort of far right social conservatives led by Rep. Paul Stam and his protege, Senator Chad Barefoot (both of Wake County), to slip in a last minute provision that would have repealed all sorts of local ordinances — including some that ban wrongful discrimination against LGBT citizens, seniors and veterans. Here’s the Journal:

“Before ending its session early Wednesday morning, members of the legislature took one more crack at government overreach, trying to pass measures that would limit the authority and decision-making ability of local city and county governments. And they did so through underhanded methods that should put them to shame.

Members of a conference committee led by Sen. Chad Barefoot and Rep. Paul Stam — a panel of House and Senate members that is supposed to hash out the differences between their bills — inserted new language into an old bill, then used a procedural maneuver to send it to the Rules Committee, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. From there, the bill would have gone to the House floor for a vote before members could absorb its implications…

If passed, it could have overhauled a wide range of nondiscrimination ordinances, housing regulations and workplace regulations that some cities and counties have adopted or may adopt. It would have banned local ordinances to establish a higher minimum wage. It would have voided local ordinances governing housing and rental practices, possibly affecting Winston-Salem’s efforts to encourage housing diversity, Mayor Allen Joines told The Associated Press….

It’s hard to discern a motive for this attempt at tying local governments’ hands, beyond simply exerting more and more control — which seems to be motive enough for this legislature, as seen by previous attempts this session to restructure local elections and redraw districts to Republicans’ advantage. The legislation would have hit the LGBT community and the poor, making their lives more difficult than they already are.

It also seems to be common practice now to try to sneak these changes through rather than permit debate….

Fortunately, the legislation failed, but we condemn these repeated underhanded tactics. This isn’t the way democracy is supposed to work.”

Unfortunately, such deceptive maneuvers are increasingly the tactics of choice on Jones Street, where not only does the current crop of lawmakers have little use for the public structures and systems of good government, they also have little use for the rules of transparency and openness that make it work properly.

Click here to read the entire editorial.