Commentary

18 questions, 18 answers: The real facts behind House Bill 2

Rick GlazierIn case you missed it, last week, Rick Glazier, the Executive Director of the NC Justice Center (the parent organization of NC Policy Watch) has prepared an excellent and comprehensive analysis of North Carolina’s new all-purpose discrimination law  (which is commonly referred to as HB 2 — the bill that made it law).

Please feel free to share it widely.

18 questions, 18 answers: The real facts behind House Bill 2
By Rick Glazier

For the past week politicians across North Carolina have defended House Bill 2, claiming that the real facts behind the law have been misconstrued or misinterpreted by the public.

My 18 questions and answers on HB 2 deal with the real bill that passed – not the one Governor McCrory wishes had passed. Eighteen is an important number in my religion – it is the number we use that stands for the “joy of life.”

How ironic.

1. Does HB 2 eliminate any state law claim for wrongful termination of an employee on the basis of the color of a person’s skin?

Yes. The last sentence of section § 143-422.3 does so explicitly. And Representative Bishop (the sponsor of the bill) was forced to admit that in committee and on the floor of the House. Now only Mississippi and North Carolina provide no state law remedy for any type of employment discrimination.

2. Does HB 2 eliminate any state law claim for discrimination in the workplace on the basis of national origin or ethnicity?

Yes.

3. Does HB 2 eliminate the existing state law remedy that now protects (but no longer will) a Christian who has been terminated from their job on the basis of religion?

Yes. § 143-422.2 specifically states: “The regulation of discriminatory practices in employment is properly an issue of general, statewide concern, such that this Article and other applicable provisions of the General Statutes supersede and preempt any ordinance, regulation, resolution, or policy adopted or imposed by a unit of local government or other political subdivision of the State that regulates or imposes any requirement upon an employer pertaining to the regulation of discriminatory practices in employment, except such regulations applicable to personnel employed by that body that are not otherwise in conflict with State law.”

It’s an interesting provision because the next provision states, “This article does not create and shall not be construed to create or support a statutory or common-law private right of action, and no person may bring any civil action based upon the public policy expressed above.”

So, essentially, the last sentence renders the first sentence impotent. A right you cannot enforce is not a right – it is a platitude. In this case we effectively recognize the man in uniform, but then fail so much as to give him a passing salute.

4. Does HB 2 eliminate all existing state law remedies for women from being demoted, transferred, or terminated from their job because of their sex?

Yes.

5. Before HB 2, did North Carolina provide any protections from discrimination in employment on access to public accommodations for LGBT citizens? Read more

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.

Read more

News

ACLU says NC’s anti-LGBT law risks billions in federal funding for schools

RESTROOMS-400-1On Friday, Gov. Pat McCrory, responding to an avalanche of criticism for North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law, released a list of “myths vs. facts,” a point-by-point attempt to derail the clamor over the mega-controversial law.

In one point, McCrory argued that the law will not threaten the state’s share of federal education funding under Title IX’s anti-discrimination provisions.

But Monday, in the midst of a press conference announcing a legal challenge to the anti-LGBT law, ACLU of N.C. Legal Director Chris Brook called McCrory’s statements “patently false on a number of different levels.”

Brook said federal education agencies have interpreted Title IX’s anti-discrimination regulations to include protection based on gender identity, meaning N.C.’s $4.5 billion share of federal funding could be imperiled.

“We’re putting $4.5 billion at stake to score political points by marginalizing an already marginalized community,” said Brook.

And, although Title IX was not mentioned in his statement, N.C. Association of Educators President Rodney Ellis was one of many who spoke against the law last week.

“House Bill 2 goes against NCAE’s core values of equality for every individual,” said Ellis. “This discriminatory law turns back decades of civil rights progress and hamstrings local governments from making their communities a reflection of their citizens and their beliefs. Today we stand up with educators, businesses, and local government leaders for the rights of the LGBT community and all the citizens of North Carolina from discriminatory practices.”

More on this to come.

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

News

Lake Lure charter school suspends school clubs following uproar over LGBT group

A Lake Lure charter school suspended all of its extra-curricular clubs last week after controversy erupted over a new club that supports lesbian, gay and transgender students.

The board of directors for Lake Lure Classical Academy, which serves students from kindergarten through high school in Rutherford County community, voted for the temporary suspension of extra-curricular activities Thursday.

Community members and parents spoke out at a school board meeting in support and against the newly-formed Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Club, according to the Daily Courier, a newspaper based in nearby Forest City.

From the Daily Courier’s article:

“I support the students who created the LGBT Club. I couldn’t be prouder to be a Raptor now,” parent Frances Brown said to the board. “My brother was bullied all through high school and I’m so grateful a club like this exits. This is about students feeling less alone and safe to be who they are. Thank you for embracing the difference in students.”

However, other parents expressed their concerns on the nature of the club since LLCA is a K-12 school. One grandmother said she had to explain the meaning of “gay” and “lesbian” to her elementary school student because the club put up a poster.

Another citizen told the board since it is a public school it has the ability to do away with the club. He said he did not have a child at Lake Lure, but if he did he would take them out immediately. He said the only diversity the school needs is the Bible.

Layne Long, a teacher who sponsored the club, said a student approached her about forming the club and was more than happy to have her classroom serve as a meeting place, according to the Daily Courier.

“This is not a religious club, this is a human rights club,” Long said.

Read more