Commentary

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.

Commentary

Revealing claim from HB2 supporter: Law is about stopping “unbridled sexual license”

There have been a lot of amusing moments over the last four weeks in North Carolina since the passage of HB2 (“amusing” in the sense that they want to make you laugh so you won’t start crying). There’s been the spectacle of Senate leader Phil “I’ve never met a corporate tax cut that I didn’t like” Berger solemnly informing us that he doesn’t bow down to corporate pressure. There was the laugh-out-loud nonsense of Gov. McCrory and others attributing the actions of scores of major national corporations, nonprofits and governmental bodies — almost all of which employ gaggles of in-house lawyers and lobbyists — to a “misleading smear campaign” by leftist activists.

But perhaps the most outrageously absurd and unintentionally illuminating claim from an HB2 supporter was the one made this past weekend on the editorial pages of Raleigh’s News & Observer by the N.C. Family Policy Council’s John Rustin. Read how Rustin wraps up his op-ed “Cutting through the liberal propaganda on HB2”:

“Opponents of House Bill 2 are mad that the Charlotte City Council was rebuked for its overreach of legal authority. They are mad that HB2 pre-empts their efforts to open public bathrooms and showers to individuals of either sex. And they are mad that HB2 curtailed their efforts to impose a radical social policy of unbridled sexual license on our state. Unfortunately, the media are propagating the smear campaign, and many levelheaded citizens have been confused and misled by it.” (Emphasis supplied.)

Sometimes, you really have to wonder what’s circulating in the minds of the sex-obsessed folks on the religious right.

“Unbridled sexual license”?

What the heck does that even mean? Is it the opposite of “bridled sexual license? And what in the world could it possibly have to do with whether people are discriminated against because of who they are and where they can find a place to use a restroom in peace?

The bottom line: Throughout the HB2 debate, the loudest defenders of the law have been the folks on the religious right, who keep making clear that what they’re really demanding is a state legal framework in which LGBT people are not acknowledged as human beings. This can be seen in the way people like Rustin almost always include terms like sexual orientation and gender identity in quotations (as he did in the N&O essay) to show that they’re not even legitimate descriptive terms.

What this particular essay also reveals, however, is something else that we should have remembered  about the religious right — namely that its age-old obsession with/fixation on sex and the thought that somebody somewhere is enjoying it in a way they find icky or unacceptable is still fully in force. And, at some basic level, that remains what all of the recent commotion in North Carolina is all about.

Commentary

Lawmaker relates story of “regular guy” constituent with transgender child harmed by HB 2

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.

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News

WRAL questions the claim that NC’s anti-LGBT law would threaten schools’ federal funding

HB2As we reported this week, numerous education activists, as well as ACLU of N.C. Legal Director Chris Brook, have publicly questioned whether North Carolina’s share of federal Title IX funding—about $4.5 billion—has been put in jeopardy by the legislature’s controversial House Bill 2. 

The decision will likely hinge on an ongoing Virginia court case, but the administration of President Obama and his federal Department of Education has made it clear that it believes the anti-discrimination component of federal education law protects against transgender discrimination too. 

However, chalk WRAL up as skeptics. The network’s Mark Binker ran a “fact check” on the claim Thursday. Using a traffic signal, WRAL handed the claim a yellow light, calling it “overstated.”

From WRAL:

When we examined McCrory’s claims in defense of the law, your fact checkers pointed out he was trying “to confer a degree of certainty about the law that doesn’t appear to exist.” We have the same problem here, although not to the same degree.

The idea that HB2 posses a certain or immediate threat to funding is specious. Any move to withdraw funding from the state would be part of what is typically a lengthy process and could be derailed by what the Fourth Circuit, or eventually the Supreme Court, says with regard to Title IX policy.

However, there is certainly room to make the argument that HB2 eventually could have an impact on federal funding. The Obama administration’s actions with regard to Title IX and transgender policy in other states save the claims related to HB2 and Title IX from running a red, but they do get a yellow light on our fact checking scale.

Of course, in Binker’s article, multiple opponents of the bill, including Brook, point out that there is ample evidence that the legislation’s stance on transgender-friendly policies could eventually pose problems for the state.

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Commentary

McCrory zigzagging from moment to moment as pressure builds to repeal discrimination law

Pat McCrory 4When it comes to his performance in enacting and defending North Carolina’s new all-purpose discrimination law, being accused of hypocrisy by Gov. Pat McCrory (the nonsensical charge he keeps lobbing at the opponents of the new law) is a little like being accused by Donald Trump of having a bad comb-over.

The Governor, who leaps wildly from the role of put upon victim to defiant bully several times per day, set a new standard for incoherent inconsistency yesterday. Just a day after defiantly defending the bill in Goldsboro and hours after saying he would be open to making minor, undisclosed changes to the law, the Governor deigned — eight days after he signed it into law under cover of darkness — to meet with three critics of the law (a local transgender woman named Candis Cox, Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro and Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign).

Okay, though absurdly late, that sounded promising. But then look at what the Guv’s spokesperson said in his official post-meeting statement:

“There’s no doubt there is a well-coordinated, national campaign to smear our state’s reputation after we passed a common-sense law to ensure no government can take away our basic expectations of privacy in bathrooms, locker rooms and showers,” said Josh Ellis, Communications Director for Governor McCrory. “Governor McCrory appreciated the opportunity to sit down and deal with these complex issues through conversation and dialogue as opposed to political threats and economic retaliation.”

Say what? “Smear the state’s reputation”? By who, Governor? Retired Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl? Apple Computer CEO Tim Cook? The National Basketball Association? Why would scores of giant corporations want to “smear” North Carolina? What in God’s  name are you talking about?

But then, look — just two sentences later, McCrory is all sweetness and light, talking about how much he loved sitting down with opponents to discuss the matter!

Does anyone even marginally sober this morning think that such a meeting would have ever occurred had the last week not been filled with loud protests from every corner of the country? The fact is that advocates were asking for the Guv to meet with transgender people long before he even signed the new law, but got absolutely nowhere. Had he not felt that he had to hold the meeting yesterday to try and buy some time, McCrory would have quickly slipped back into his preferred role as the state’s under-the radar, ribbon cutter-in-chief so fast it would have made your head spin.

The bottom line: Nine days into the biggest political and policy crisis to hit North Carolina in years, there is no relief in sight. The driving forces behind the new law are unrepentant. The demands from around the country to repeal the law are mounting. And the Governor is zigzagging madly in desperate hopes of finding some way of making the problem go away. Unfortunately for him, as he continues to discover on a daily basis, that just isn’t going to happen unless he somehow summons a measure courage and skill we’ve not seen from him before to face down his right-wing base and force a repeal of the law.