Commentary

Pat McCrory, Tim Moore and Franklin Graham want to use the same restroom as Caitlyn Jenner

image: Caitlyn Jenner's Twitter account

Image: Caitlyn Jenner’s Twitter account

As long as shameless politicians and bullying preachers are set on taking the matter of Charlotte’s new human rights ordinance (a simple and common sense law that has worked just fine in scores of cities across America) into the gutter with ridiculous claims about sexual predators, we might as well get down to the business of slugging this one out.

So here goes: Pat McCrory, Tim Moore and Franklin Graham want to use the same restroom as Caitlyn Jenner.

I mean, that is, after all is said and done, what these guys are arguing for, isn’t it?

Under the McCrory/Moore/Graham 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 MMG team is concerned.

Caitlyn Jenner? Sorry, it’ll always be Bruce to the MMG 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 bright-lights-loving Guv finds himself in the same men’s room line with a glamorous brunette. Maybe then he can explain to her (and the rest of the world) what the heck he and his buddies were trying to prove with their shameless/shameful pandering.

Commentary

McCrory takes the low road yet again; targets transgender North Carolinians for discrimination

Image: Franklin Graham's Facebook page

Gov. McCrory appearing with another champion of discrimination. Image: Franklin Graham’s Facebook page

Public attitudes on a lot of important social issues have moved in a progressive direction in recent years — sometimes at an encouragingly rapid clip. This progress has been especially noteworthy in the realm of LGBT equality, where hundreds of prominent politicians and public figures have embraced the 21st Century and abandoned their formerly bigoted stances.

And then there’s North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory. Despite, at times, giving the impression of being a relatively modern man who knows better that to parrot the haters and theocrats, the Guv cannot, apparently, resist the temptation to demagogue for perceived political advantage. Last November, the Guv took the absurd step of inserting himself into a Virginia dispute over the bathroom usage of a transgender schoolboy and now he’s at it again. The Charlotte Observer reports:

“Gov. Pat McCrory warned two Charlotte City Council members Sunday that if the city approves new legal protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people on Monday, the vote would ‘most likely cause immediate state legislative intervention.’

McCrory is concerned about a provision in the proposed expanded ordinance that would allow transgender residents to use either a men’s or a women’s bathroom. That part of the ordinance has also caused a furor in Charlotte and led to the ordinance being defeated 6-5 last year.

‘It is not only the citizens of Charlotte that will be impacted by changing basic restroom and locker room norms but also citizens from across our state and nation who visit and work in Charlotte,’ McCrory said in an email to the council’s two Republicans, Ed Driggs and Kenny Smith. ‘This shift in policy could also create major public safety issues by putting citizens in possible danger from deviant actions by individuals taking improper advantage of a bad policy.’

McCrory, a Republican, continued: ‘Also, this action of allowing a person with male anatomy, for example, to use a female restroom or locker room will most likely cause immediate State legislative intervention which I would support as governor.’”

It’s hard to overstate the mendacity and cowardice of the Governor’s statement. As we noted last fall in response to the Governor’s inane observation that federal enforcement of civil rights laws to help transgendered persons amounted to an “unacceptable” federal overreach that “must be stopped”:

Read more

Commentary

Editorial: Magistrates same-sex marriage opt-out law is unconstitutional

Gay marriage 2This morning’s lead editorial in the Charlotte Observer hits a home run with its take on North Carolina’s discriminatory law that allows magistrates to opt out of marrying couples when to do so violates their “religious beliefs” and a new lawsuit being launched to challenge it.

Here’s the Observer:

“The complaint to be filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Asheville rightly argues that Senate Bill 2 violates the First and 14th Amendments in multiple ways.

First, the law uses taxpayer money to allow magistrates to violate their oath of office on religious grounds. The law provides that if all the magistrates in a county opt out, the state shall send replacement magistrates from another county to ensure that marriages are performed.

That has happened in McDowell County, the complaint says. All four magistrates there opted out, forcing a magistrate to travel regularly from Rutherford County to fulfill their job duties.

The law also provides that any magistrate who resigned because of religious beliefs and then was reappointed within 90 days of Senate Bill 2’s passage would receive credit toward retirement for that gap in service.

Both of those provisions have cost the taxpayers money to further a religious aim, a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, the complaint says.

Senate Bill 2 also violates the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, the complaint says. Even if a gay couple ultimately successfully marries, their rights are violated by public officials treating them as second-class citizens.”

And here’s the excellent conclusion:

“Magistrates, like all N.C. judicial officials, take an oath swearing to uphold the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the 14th Amendment protects gay couples’ rights to marry. So the 32 N.C. magistrates who have recused themselves are violating their oath and the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. This clearly would not be tolerated if instead of a gay couple, a magistrate objected to marrying an interracial couple.

Senate Bill 2 supporters point out it doesn’t block gay couples from marrying. That’s true, but the government is treating some citizens differently from others, an inherently discriminatory practice. The court should side with the plaintiffs, and take us one step closer to universal equality under the law.”

Click here to read the entire editorial. Let’s hope the lawsuit brings an end to this hateful and harmful law ASAP.
Commentary

Op-ed: Spellings’ past actions combating LGBT equality make her unfit to lead UNC

Former federal Education Sec. Margaret Spellings at Friday's UNC Board of Governors meeting.

Former federal Education Sec. Margaret Spellings at last Friday’s UNC Board of Governors meeting.

NC Policy Watch friend Jim Neal, a veteran North Carolina equality advocate and former U.S. Senate candidate, has authored a compelling op-ed critiquing the apparent choice to head the UNC system, Margaret Spellings. The essay, which appears in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer highlights the fact that Spelllings’ background as a conservative culture warrior who has, more than once, made it her public business to denigrate LGBT Americans makes her unfit to serve as head of a great university.

Here’s Neal:

“On the second day of her job as secretary of education in the George W. Bush administration in 2004, Margaret Spellings sent a letter to the CEO of PBS demanding that a children’s show that featured a lesbian couple be pulled from the air. Two weeks later, PBS’s CEO stepped down.

Spellings went to Washington as a former lobbyist-turned-political director to Bush during his first gubernatorial campaign in which he defeated incumbent Texas Gov. Ann Richards by using coded L-word, dogwhistle language as the linchpin in a campaign strategy devised by Karl Rove – who introduced Spellings to Bush….

As the leading candidate to succeed a man of unimpeachable integrity and grace, Spellings profiles as a career political operative, lobbyist, Rove protégée and cultural warrior, the antithesis of recent leaders both Democratic and Republican who have ably led the foremost statewide university system in the nation.”

Read the entire essay by clicking here.

Commentary

Portrayal of House Speaker as moderate shows how far out of whack things have gotten

Moore_15cRaleigh’s News & Observer ran a big profile of House Speaker Tim Moore over the weekend in which it highlighted the fact that Moore’s tenure has not quite matched the hard right ideological fervor of his predecessor, Thom Tillis, or the current leadership of the state Senate. At times, he’s even worked with Democrats to help pass some measures, including the budget and the recent state bond package. In addition, he’s made somewhat less use of the abusive tactics favored by Tillis for shutting down debate and occasionally has raised the ire of some fire-breathers on the far right.

Before observers get too carried away with this portrayal, however, it’s important to note that it says a lot more about how bizarrely extreme the modern right wing has become than it does about any significant moderation by Moore. By any fair assessment, Moore’s politics remain far to the right of Ronald Reagan. Consider the following items and issues on which Moore has adhered to or advanced a downright reactionary agenda:

Medicaid expansion:  On the single most important issue before state government — a policy change already enacted by Republicans all over the country that could save thousands of lives and lift up the state economy — Moore continues to do nothing.

Public education: Moore continues to help advance the Right’s pro-voucher, pro-charters privatization agenda and has done little-to-nothing to repair the damage inflicted on K-12 funding in recent years.

Environmental protection: Under Moore’s leadership, the list of proposals to gut environmental protection just keep on coming.

Taxes: Though he has not yet completely embraced the Senate’s extreme efforts to mimic the suicidal policies of states like Kansas, Moore continues to support additional tax cuts for corporations even as the state struggles to meet its most basic needs. He’s also done nothing to repair the damage caused by the  destructive 2013 tax cuts or to reinstate the critically important Earned Income Tax Credit.

LGBT equality, reproductive rights, the death penalty, guns: And, of course, Moore has promoted the far right “social agenda” on each of these issues in 2015, including: the discriminatory “religious freedom” law for magistrates and registers of deeds, the bill to up the state’s absurd  abortion waiting period, the bill to keep death penalty drugs shrouded in secrecy and the bill to introduce concealed weapons into even more venues.

The confederate flag: Moore has done nothing to end the state’s embarrassing display of the rebel flag on license plates and has made it harder to remove confederate memorials.

The bottom line: Speaker Moore may be an affable guy who takes it a tiny bit slower than some when it comes to the most extreme components of the far right agenda, but in a world in which much of the modern American Right backs Donald Trump for President and openly consorts with groups and individuals that favor “nullification” of federal laws, this should not be confused with “moderation.” On issue after issue, Moore continues push North Carolina dramatically and rapidly backwards.