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

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, News

Another victory for equality: U.S. Supreme Court slaps down Alabama anti-gay adoption ruling

equality overtonAnother day, another encouraging decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of same sex marriage equality.

Zack Ford at Think Progress reports on the latest development:

The U.S. Supreme Court has once again weighed in on the legality of same-sex relationships. On Monday, the Court issued a summary decision reversing the Alabama Supreme Court, which had refused to recognize a same-sex couple’s legal adoption from another state.

In many ways, the decision was a matter of housekeeping, addressing a conflict from the inconsistent marriage and adoption laws that preceded last summer’s Obergefell decision. The case of E.L. v. V.L. (their names were kept anonymous) was about two women who had raised three children together and then separated. To ensure the legal protection of their family despite Alabama’s ban on same-sex adoption, the couple rented a house in Georgia, where they legally secured adoption rights.

After separating, E.L., who was the biological mother, sought to block V.L. from visitation from their children. Last September (months after Obergefell), the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in E.L.’s favor, declaring that because Alabama would not have recognized Georgia’s adoption ruling back in 2007 when it was granted, it was “void.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision corrected this Monday. Citing the “Full Faith and Credit Clause” of the Constitution, which requires states to respect the records and proceedings from other states. The Court ruled that under this provision, Alabama had an obligation to recognize the decision made by a Georgia state court. Because Georgia law gave that court “subject-matter jurisdiction to hear and decide the adoption petition at issue,” then the legitimacy of that ruling is not open to debate. “It follows that the Alabama Supreme Court erred in refusing to grant that judgment full faith and credit.”

What is perhaps most remarkable about Monday’s decision is how unremarkable it is. It was a per curiam decision, which means it was unsigned, and no justice noted a dissent. Furthermore, it did not actually rely on Obergefell at all and did not address the merits of same-sex adoption. It closed the case by treating E.L. and V.L. like any other couple, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The ruling follows Friday’s childish decision from the Alabama Supreme Court conceding to marriage equality. Expounding at length about how the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell majority were “tyrants” and promising not to start a civil war over the issue, the Court admitted that marriage equality is as much the law of the land in Alabama as in the rest of the United States.

Commentary

Even conservative South Dakota rejects discrimination against transgender persons

In the wacky world of modern American politics, it’s hard to find a more conservative Republican state that South Dakota. In the home state of the late George McGovern, every statewide elected official is now a Republican and the GOP holds overwhelming legislative majorities. If there’s a right-wing social or economic issue to be advanced, South Dakota is your place.

And, yet, despite this, check out this item from this morning’s headlines:

South Dakota Governor Vetoes Law on Transgender Bathrooms

South Dakota’s governor vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have made the state the first in the U.S. to approve a law requiring transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their sex at birth.

Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who initially reacted positively to the proposal but said he needed to research the issue, rejected the bill after groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign insisted it was discriminatory.

In his veto message, Daugaard said the bill ‘does not address any pressing issue’ and that such decisions were best left to local school officials. He also noted that signing the bill could create costly liability issues for schools and the state. The ACLU had promised to encourage legal action if the bill became law.

‘I am so happy right now. You have no idea,’ said 18-year-old Thomas Lewis, a transgender high school student in Sioux Falls. Lewis said he has support at his school, but that the veto shows such support goes beyond his friends.

‘The government’s not going to hold me back from who I really am,’ he said.

Let’s fervently hope that Pat McCrory, Phil Berger and Tim Moore are paying attention. Maybe, having gotten their red meat, base-appeasing headlines by raising a ruckus about Charlotte’s new anti-discrimination ordinance, they too can see now that it too does not address any pressing state issue.

Commentary

The best editorial of the weekend

The best editorial of the weekend came from the Greensboro News & Record. The subject: the state’s new bathroom wars manufactured by opportunistic politicians looking to gin up their right-wing bases in the aftermath of Charlotte’s recent adoption of a nondiscrimination ordinance.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The ordinance, approved Monday by a 7-4 vote of the Charlotte City Council, prohibits discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgendered people. The opposition stems from bathroom concerns. Critics are afraid that men dressing as women will enter women’s restrooms and attack women and girls.

That’s possible, with or without the Charlotte ordinance. Such attacks seem to be extremely rare, if they occur at all, in cities that already have nondiscrimination ordinances.

It’s also possible that men dressed as men can attack men and boys in men’s rooms. Everyone needs to be watchful in public facilities. Small children should be accompanied by a parent.

Charlotte has simply acknowledged the reality that transgendered people use public bathrooms without drawing attention to themselves or causing problems. Its ordinance does not require unisex facilities, according to its city attorney. It simply offers a legal resolution for people who can otherwise find themselves in a dilemma and who are at least due a measure of human understanding and accommodation rather than contempt.”

The N&R take comes on top of similar pieces in Raleigh’s News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer last week and these great editorial cartoons by Dwane Powell, Kevin Siers and our own John Cole (see below). Let’s hope state leaders are paying attention. Unfortunately, that seems like a long shot.

2-29-16 NCPW cartoon