News

Apodaca wants Charlotte to cover costs of special session that rammed through anti-LGBTQ legislation

The special session Wednesday that passed legislation banning localities from protecting LGBTQ communities came at a cost of $42,000. Not satisfied that they’ve overturned the Charlotte ordinance — which would’ve allowed transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity — now State Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) wants the city of Charlotte to foot the bill as well.

Blue Ridge Now reports:

State Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) has asked his staff to look and see how the General Assembly can charge Charlotte to cover the costs of Wednesday’s special session, including the possibility of withholding the city’s sales tax revenues.

Lawmakers met Wednesday and passed a law invalidating a measure the Charlotte City Council passed last month to allow transgender people to use restrooms corresponding with their gender identity.

“Charlotte brought this all upon themselves,” knowing exactly what they were getting into, Apodaca said.

Read more here

Commentary

New York Times editorial: “Transgender law makes North Carolina pioneer in bigotry”

In case you had any doubts, this morning’s lead editorial in the New York Times makes clear what a source of national and international ridicule state leaders have now made North Carolina:

Transgender Law Makes North Carolina Pioneer in Bigotry

Officials in Charlotte, N.C., spent more than a year carefully considering and debating an antidiscrimination ordinance that was passed in February to promote the city’s culture of inclusiveness. State lawmakers quashed it on Wednesday by passing an appalling, unconstitutional bill that bars transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity and prohibits cities from passing antidiscrimination ordinances that protect gay and transgender people.

Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the bill into law late Wednesday, said it was necessary to undo Charlotte’s ordinance, which included protections for gay and transgender people, because it allowed “men to use women’s bathroom/locker room.” Proponents of so-called bathroom bills, which have been introduced in state legislatures across the country, have peddled them by spuriously portraying transgender women as potential rapists.

That threat exists only in the imagination of bigots. Supporters of the measures have been unable to point to a single case that justifies the need to legislate where people should be allowed to use the toilet. North Carolina is the first state to pass such a provision.

North Carolina lawmakers must have recognized that careful scrutiny of the bill would have doomed it. They convened a special session on Wednesday — which cost taxpayers $42,000 — to ram the bill through. The House allowed for 30 minutes of public debate, limiting speakers to two minutes. The Democrats walked out of the Senate in protest.

Inexplicably, lawmakers slipped a provision in the deceptively titled “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act” that prohibits cities from setting a minimum wage higher than the state’s, which is $7.25 per hour. That appears to be largely symbolic because local jurisdictions in North Carolina generally don’t have the type of broad authority required to pass minimum wage requirements.

Under the law, people in North Carolina are required to use public restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificate. Transgender people in the state can request to have their birth certificate changed only if they have had gender reassignment surgery. Many transgender people cannot afford surgery or choose not to have it.

By promoting the ludicrous idea that transgender women are inherently dangerous, the law endangers citizens who are already disproportionately vulnerable to violence and stigmatization. Transgender men go largely unmentioned in bathroom bill debates, but that could change. James Parker Sheffield, a transgender man with a beard, exposed the foolishness of the law in a tweet to the governor. “It’s now the law for me to share a restroom with your wife,” he wrote, attaching a photo of himself.

North Carolina could face serious economic repercussions from the law. It can expect a backlash from leading employers, a potential cut in federal education funding and lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the law. American Airlines, which has a hub in Charlotte, and PayPal, which recently announced it would create 400 jobs in the state, are among several companies that have already criticized the law.

Mr. McCrory, who is running for re-election, may have assumed the bill would help him in a tight race against Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat who called the measure shameful. “Not only does this hurt North Carolina families, but it hurts our economy as well,” Mr. Cooper said in a video message. Voters should reject the candidate who made the state a pioneer in bigotry.”

Commentary

Don’t miss next Tuesday’s luncheon with Charlotte Mayor Roberts

What had originally been planned as an event to discuss the Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance (and what it would and would not have done) will now, sadly, be a post mortem on yesterday’s special discrimination session and a discussion of where we go from here. Please join us next Tuesday March 29 for a special NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation:

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts on the state’s decision to overturn her city’s nondiscrimination ordinance

Click here to register

In this most volatile of election years, there have been a lot of efforts by cynical politicians to manipulate voters with misinformation regarding important issues. Here in North Carolina, however, it will be difficult to top the actions of state leaders as they went about the business in recent days of  overturning the city of Charlotte’s new nondiscrimination ordinance.

Join us as we discuss this important issue with an elected leader at the center of the battle: Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts.

NCPW-2016-03-29-clt-ordinance-roberts

Mayor Roberts was raised in Charlotte, and now she and her husband, Manley, are also raising their two children there as well. During her professional career, she has worked as a diplomat for the US Department of State, serving in the Dominican Republic as a consular officer and then as a political officer on the Mexico Desk.

During her years in Charlotte, Roberts has been Director of the Mayor’s International Cabinet, a lending officer in International Corporate Banking at First Union, and executive director of the Charlotte World Affairs Council. She has also served on the Mecklenburg County Commission as a member and chairperson. She was elected Mayor in 2015.

Mayor Roberts will be joined by other experts and advocates who will examine next steps in this battle.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from this important leader on this controversial matter.

Click here to register

When: Tuesday, March 29 at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: North Carolina Association of Educators Building, 700 South Salisbury St, in downtown Raleigh

Parking is plentiful at this venue, but space for the event itself is limited – preregistration is required.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Commentary

Two remarkable and disturbing truths about yesterday’s special discrimination session

3-7-16-NCPW-cartoonThere were a lot of horrific aspects to yesterday’s right-wing blitzkrieg on Jones Street. There were the hateful and ignorant speeches, the frequently even more hateful social media posts and tweets from the virtual storm troopers supporting the discriminators in the Legislative Building and then, of course, there was the truly absurd and outrageous lack of process that accompanied the passage of major legislation that will bring derision upon our state for years to come.

But for my money, here are the two seminal truths about yesterday’s horror show that have not received the attention they deserve:

Number One was the fact that several lawmakers who voted for the bill did not support it and did not want to be in Raleigh at all. I have been told by multiple advocates who attended yesterday’s session that they were sought out by conservative lawmakers who apologized for their presence and expressed their private disgust that the debacle was even taking place. These lawmakers then turned around and silently and spinelessly voted for the bill and against all potentially helpful amendments. It was a matter of calculating and cowardly politics at their absolute worst: elected officials who knew better voting to harm innocent people and enhance their suffering so as to avoid being attacked by theocrats and Tea Party true believers. It was a display so feckless and pathetic as to bring to mind the robotic automatons of the old Soviet bloc. No surprise then that the Governor joined this group of which he is a charter member late yesterday.

Number Two was the amazingly ignorant and mostly unspoken belief that underlies the religious right’s support for the bill. Simply put, the confused bullies from laughably misnamed groups like the North Carolina Values Coalition and the North Carolina Family Policy Council do not acknowledge that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are human beings or that they even exist. In particular, it is their view that there is literally no such being as a transgender person. They are, according to these zealots, simply men or women pretending to be something they are not. It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at this level of willful ignorance, but one thing is for sure: caring and thinking people need to get off their butts and start rebutting it at the top of their lungs.

A good place to start the rebuttal process will begin this afternoon at 5:45 at an event sponsored by Equality NC at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh at 3313 Wade Avenue. Click here for more information.

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.