Weekend editorials: Criticism of HB2 referendum idea piles up

Two more of the state’s major newspapers weighed in against the idea floated by some state lawmakers last week of putting HB2 on the November ballot. The editorials in the Wilmington Star-News and the Greensboro News & Record come on top of another one that blasted the plan in last Thursday’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer.

Interestingly, the News & Record notes that if lawmakers are really going to go down this road, they need to put all parts of the law on the ballot:

“But in this case, a referendum on HB 2 might include questions like these:

  • Should cities be allowed to require employers to pay a minimum wage higher than the state level?
  • Should cities be allowed to enact ordinances that protect residents and visitors from all forms of discrimination?
  • Should North Carolina residents be allowed to file discrimination claims in state courts?

If voters affirmed, those measures would make worthy additions to the state constitution.

Legislators probably don’t have in mind putting those parts of HB 2 to a vote of the people.

The only part of the new law they might want to test in a vote is the bathroom portion: Should public agencies require people to use bathrooms that correspond to their biological sex as defined by what’s stated on their birth certificates?”

The editorial summed up this way:

“These complex issues were dealt with in the crudest, most thoughtless manner possible by our legislature and governor. And now, in a transparent attempt to deflect political pressure, some of the same legislators think it’s a good idea to ask the voters to affirm their crude and thoughtless action.”

After explaining why referenda are, as a general matter, a lousy way to make state laws, the Star-News concluded with this succinct observation:

“The law is causing lost businesses, lost conventions, lost tourist dollars and is damaging the state’s reputation. But mainly, it’s a bad law. It needs to go now.

Our Honorable legislators need to stop fooling around. They officially convene Monday. Get busy.”

And here’s how the N&O put it: Read more


Editorial blasts state senator over “keep our state straight” remark

Buck NewtonThis morning’s Fayetteville Observer features another scathing editorial on HB2 and, in particular, the comment uttered Monday at a rally supporting the law by State Senator Eldon “Buck” Newton of Wilson. According the editorial, Newton “let the bigot out of the bag” when he urged rally attendees to “fight to keep our state straight.”

Here’s the Observer:

The writers, sponsors and endorsers of House Bill 2 have pulled off their scam: They’ve called it the “bathroom bill” so many times that most people are convinced that’s what it’s about….

It is a sweeping act of social engineering hidden under a skillfully organized campaign to gin up fear of who may be in the next stall in the ladies’ room. The manufactured hysteria over transgender use of restrooms is a triumphant public-relations victory that solves a nonexistent problem. There is no evidence anywhere that transgender people are using an opposite-sex disguise to molest women and children. There is, however, extensive evidence of discrimination against transgender people, as well as those who are gay or lesbian. House Bill 2 ensures that they have no protection from it.

Why? State Sen. Buck Newton, the Republican candidate for attorney general in November, let the bigot out of the bag as he wrapped up a speech to HB2 supporters on Monday. Take the message home, he said, about “how hard we must fight to keep our state straight.”

We doubt that Newton is that naive….Newton was indulging in the same successful pandering that House and Senate leaders used to justify House Bill 2, and that Gov. Pat McCrory continues to use as he tries to walk the fine line that will preserve his support from social conservatives, even as he seeks tweaks that will make the bill less offensive to the business support he lost by signing the bill.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.


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.)


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.


Bathroom bill will be far ranging; purports to define gender, bans living wage laws

signageAs had been feared, the outrageous plan to override the Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance in today’s planned kangaroo session of the General Assembly goes much further than just bathrooms.

Under the bill that will apparently be considered today (NC Policy Watch obtained a copy last night – click here to view the draft), not only will lawmakers purport to say who and who can’t go in public restrooms anywhere in North Carolina, the state of North Carolina will also “define” transgender people out of existence (the bill defines ones’ “biological sex” as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is determined by a person’s birth certificate”) and bar all local governments from enacting living wage ordinances. It is, in short, a huge and far ranging power grab that that is both stunning in its breadth and scope and outrageous in its disregard for human rights and common decency. It will also, by all appearances, be rammed through in just a matter of hours.

Of course, wild overreaches of this kind have a way of backfiring on their authors. The religious and market fundamentalists behind the bathroom bill may think they will have “settled” the matters included in it, but in truth, all they will have done is help give rise to an even more powerful movement for justice and equality that will sweep this law aside in the near future.

For those interested in joining that cause, advocates at Equality NC and the ACLU of NC will be hosting a rally for equality and justice tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon at 5:45 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, 3313 Wade Ave. Click here for more information.