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

HB2 supporters finally come out of the closet about their true intentions

Not that anyone is surprised by the development, but it seems worth clarifying as we come to the close of another work week in North Carolina’s new and dark HB2 era, that the most prominent supporters of the discrimination law have revealed their true colors in recent days. Having long mouthed the manufactured and embarrassingly absurd talking point that HB2 is somehow about “bathroom safety,” the folks over on the far right came out and admitted this week that what they and their law are really about is keeping LGBT people down.

First came the Monday rally in Raleigh at which two of North Carolina’s most active and loudmouthed homophobes, Rev. Ron Baity and Rev. Patrick Wooden were allowed to share the stage. As Chris Fitzsimon pointed out on Tuesday:

“…Wooden has referred to being gay as a ‘death style’ that ’causes a breakdown of the human body’ and that it is normal to react violently to gay people.

He also famously predicted that marriage equality would lead both to men marrying goats and a pedophile problem and that transgender male Chastity Bono was acting under the influence of the devil and demon spirits of perversion.

And Wooden wasn’t even the most outrageous speaker at the rally. That dishonor would have to go to Ron Baity from the Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and the head of a group called Return America. Baity has compared gay people to maggots and murderers and endorsed their prosecution.

His group’s website says LGBT people behave like perverts.”

A year and a half ago, Baity has also blamed the Ebola disease on the legalization of same-sex marriage and claimed that it was just one of many plagues God would bring to the United States as punishment for promoting LGBT rights.

And lest anyone have any doubts that the leaders of the HB2 crusade are in sync with Baity and Wooden, these were dispelled this week as well when the North Carolina Values Coalition condemned Gov. McCrory’s minuscule concession on the issue of LGBT discrimination in state government employment. According to Fitzgerald, even such modest anti-discrimination policies “threaten the First Amendment freedoms of state employees.”

Did you catch that? In the muddled and disturbed worldview of Fitzgerald, Baity and Wooden, firing people because they are LGBT is a precious First Amendment freedom. What more does one need to know before concluding that the HB2 architects are hopelessly out of touch with reality and no more capable of sane dialogue on the issue than were their ideological heirs in the pro-segregation movement of the 20th century?

Surely it is this overriding reality that is ultimately driving the powerful forces throughout the country who are leading the growing boycott against North Carolina. Simply put, the men and women running various corporations and other institutions around the United States are looking at the leaders of our state and who they are listening to and concluding that they cannot in good conscience be associated with such hatred and ignorance. As long as McCrory, Berger et al. fail to grasp this reality, they’re going to remain behind the political eight ball.

Commentary

When did the Christian Action League become experts on sexual predators?

Rev. Mark Harris - image: CrooksandLiars.com

Rev. Mark Harris – image: CrooksandLiars.com

You’ve got to hand it to the troubled souls on the religious far right who are defending North Carolina’s new, all-purpose discrimination law, HB2. They have their story and they’re sticking to it — no matter how utterly preposterous it is.

The latest evidence of this cringe-inducing situation was visible yesterday at a rally organized by groups like the Christian Action League and its boss/perpetual candidate for public office, Mark Harris. According to Raleigh’s News & Observer, Harris, who is currently running for Congress after running for the Senate in 2014, condemned the Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance struck down by HB 2 as an invitation to sexual predators:

“Such an ordinance creates a loophole sexual predators can exploit,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, as members of the crowd waved signs saying “Keep kids safe.”

As I noted in this morning’s edition of the Weekly Briefing, however, isn’t it a little strange that the religious right has, all of a sudden, appointed itself our societal experts on sexual assault?

“…the fact that conservative Christians feel obliged to hold public ‘prayer vigils’ in support of the law sure would seem to indicate that it’s a lot more about keeping LGBT people in their place than it is about ‘bathroom safety.’”

This obvious truth is further confirmed by the following statement that was issued by the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault last month in response to HB 2:

“Yesterday HB 2 was passed and signed into law in North Carolina. This bill overrides a recently passed LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance in Charlotte, prevents local governments from enacting a range of nondiscrimination and employment policies, and requires all public facilities, including schools, to allow restroom access only on the basis of “biological sex”. This bill specifically excludes LGBTQ people from legal protections and jeopardizes billions of dollars in federal funds that NC schools receive under Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender students.

A central argument in this case was about the prevention of sexual violence and the use and safety of public bathrooms. Read more

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

Super Bowl week laughs: Group founded by Lt. Gov. Forest purports to grade NFL for adherence to conservative “Christian” values

Dan ForestIf ever you find yourself in need of a moment of mirth in today’s stressed out news cycle and you’ve already checked out all the day’s headlines at The Onion, here’s a great #2 option: surf on over to the website of the “Faith Driven Consumer” and check out their latest LOL ratings of corporate America.

As we’ve reported on a few occasions previously (most recently last December), the group, which was co-founded by North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest, purports to assess businesses for their “commitment to full equality and inclusion of the Faith Driven Consumer market segment” (which basically translates to how closely the companies toe the values and political lines laid down by the religious right). One of the group’s previous Christmas shopping guides, for instance, downgraded the giant retailed Sears because it included lingerie models in its catalogs. The current “index” gives higher scores to companies that support an anti-choice position when it comes to reproductive freedom for women.

This week, in an effort to grab a few seconds of attention in the media circus surrounding the Super Bowl, the group issued a statement taking the National Football League to task for registering a “score” of only 24 out of 100 on the “faith equality index.” This is from the statement:

“The National Football League is significantly comprised of Christian players, coaches, and executives, and as such, many in our community assume the organization is welcoming of Faith Driven Consumers. But its score of 24 out of 100 says otherwise.”

As to how and why the grade was bestowed, Forest’s buddies aren’t (as has been the case ever since the days of the hysterical lingerie downgrade) providing many details. Read more