Commentary, HB2

Leading sports columnist: NCAA wimps out

Once again this morning, some of the most incisive comments on the saga of North Carolina’s LGBTQ discrimination law can be found on the sports page — in this case the sports page of Raleigh’s News & Observer.

As was reported in the post below, the NCAA relented yesterday on its North Carolina HB2 boycott in response to the weak and inadequate “repeal” of the law that state leaders fashioned a few weeks back. To his great credit, however, columnist Luke DeCock isn’t happy about it. As the veteran journalist observes in “Back to business as usual quickly for NCAA in NC,” the change yesterday was basically a wimp out:

“In politics, as in sports, you don’t always get what you deserve. North Carolina got what it needed from the NCAA on Tuesday, but not what it deserved.

If the NCAA was serious about honoring the commitment it made to LGBT rights back in September when it pulled this year’s events from North Carolina and threatened to exclude the state entirely from this round of bidding, it would have found a way to reward North Carolina for acknowledging the error of its ways while still punishing it for not fully repealing House Bill 2, some interim position designed to encourage the state to be more welcoming to the NCAA’s constituents.

That’s not what happened. North Carolina went right back to most favored nation status with the NCAA over the four-year bid cycle announced Tuesday, landing 26 events encompassing 35 different championships, including the beloved first and second rounds of the men’s basketball tournament in 2020 and 2021. Only three states were awarded more: Pennsylvania, Florida and Indiana. Ohio, California and Texas were just behind.

The NBA, NCAA and ACC were all, to varying degrees, involved in brokering the inadequate compromise known as HB142, a step forward from HB2 but only a partial one, thanks to the unwillingness of the Republican majority to countenance the full, necessary repeal of HB2, and the new deal gave everyone the political cover they needed to get back in business with North Carolina. So they did. Or will shortly, in the case of the NBA.

North Carolina did get slapped around a little bit. The basketball subregionals were either going to be a 3/1 or 2/2 split between North and South Carolina, and Greenville, S.C., won out in 2022 over Charlotte. The state was passed over yet again for a men’s basketball regional, as it has been since 2008.”

After detailing which games will be played where, DeCock closes this way:
“Only seven months after the NCAA took a principled stand on behalf of its LGBT athletes, coaches, administrators and fans, it passed on the opportunity to match the degree of HB2 repeal with decisions that acknowledged progress while still encouraging further change. Instead, it’s back to business as usual, in North Carolina and elsewhere.”
In other words, caring and thinking people have a lot more work to do to bring actual justice and equality to North Carolina. Let’s keep at it.
HB2, News

NCAA to allow championship basketball to return to Raleigh, Greensboro – in 2020

State lawmakers who hoped a repeal compromise of the anti-LGBT law HB2 would be enough to return NCAA championship games to North Carolina got their answer Tuesday.

The NCAA announced that post-season soccer games would return to North Carolina in 2018.

The far more lucrative first and second rounds of Division I men’s basketball will return in 2020.

(Greensboro was tapped as a host site in 2020, with Raleigh hosting the first two rounds of basketball in 2021 at PNC arena.)

The NCAA explained its site selection this way:

Criteria for selecting the host sites included creating what will be an exceptional experience for the student-athletes, along with adherence to NCAA bid specifications. Specifications can include, but are not limited to, providing optimal facilities; ease of travel to the location and ample lodging; and adherence to NCAA principles, which include providing an atmosphere that is safe and respects the dignity of all attendees. The site selections follow the NCAA Board of Governors’ vote to allow consideration of championship bids in North Carolina.

Lawmakers replaced HB2 with House Bill 142 earlier this month, though LGBT advocates called the new law a “sham” as it prevents local governments from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances through 2020.

The Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC have condemned the NCAA’s decision:

“The NCAA has fallen ‘hook, line, and sinker’ for this ‘bait and switch’ sham ‘deal’ doubling down on discrimination,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “Even worse, the NCAA has inexcusably gone back on its promise to ensure all championship games are held in locations that are safe, respectful, and free of discrimination. By rewarding North Carolina with championship games, the NCAA has undermined its credibility and is sending a dangerous message to lawmakers across the country who are targeting LGBTQ people with discriminatory state legislation. In addition to protecting the broader LGBTQ community, the NCAA needs to clearly state how they will be protecting their student athletes, personnel and fans.”

“How can LGBTQ people  — especially members of the transgender community  — be safe and free from discrimination, much less protected against mistreatment or harassment with the sham fake repeal of HB2?” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “The unfortunate reality is they cannot. HB 142 was a cheap political trick that did nothing to alleviate the concerns the NCAA initially outlined when it pulled games from the Tar Heel state last year, and even adds new forms of discrimination to North Carolina’s laws. It is unthinkable that the NCAA would abandon its commitment to LGBTQ fans, players, and administrators by falling for this trick.”

HB2, News

In case you missed it: Federal government files motion to withdraw from HB2 litigation

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion Friday to withdraw from litigation over House Bill 2, North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBTQ law that was repealed and replaced by legislation that accomplishes similar goals.

The motion was filed “in light of the passage of North Carolina Session Law 2017-4, House Bill 142,” according to the motion.

HB142 is the law legislators passed to repeal HB2, but the law also prohibits local governments and other public entities (like the university system) from enacting transgender equity ordinance and rules without the legislature’s approval. It also makes clear that no local governmental body in the state can “enact or amend any ordinance regulating private employment practices or regulating private accommodations” until 2020.

The ACLU, ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal been working on Carcaño v. McCrory (now known as Carcaño v. Cooper), a federal challenge to HB2, for more than a year. The organizations will continue the fight in court despite the passage of HB142.

Barack Obama’s administration also fought HB2 in court, alleging the legislation violated multiple federal laws. President Donald Trump’s administration is a different story.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions openly opposes transgender equality and has tried to reverse Obama administration’s protections for LGBTQ individuals.

LGBTQ advocates are not pleased with the the DOJ’s decision.

“Here is yet another instance of the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrawing the federal government’s support from transgender individuals, and they are using the fake repeal of HB2 as cover,” said Jon W. Davidson, Legal Director and Eden/Rushing Chair, Lambda Legal. “Sadly, this was not unexpected, now that anti-transgender forces are in charge of the Departments of Justice and Education. Once again, the Trump administration continues to abandon transgender Americans.”

James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project, said that while the DOJ may want to use the “fake repeal” of HB2 as a cover, his organization would continue to fight.

“We’ll continue this fight as long as it takes to truly strike down this disastrous law for good,” he said in a news release.

The North Carolina GOP praised the DOJ’s litigation decision.

“The Trump administration has take a very reasonable and common sense action that is welcomed,” said former governor Pat McCrory in a press release.

NC GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said Americans were “once again” seeing the Trump administration reign in the “hyper-partisan Obama Justice Deparment,” a trend he hopes continues.

HB2, News

Transgender athlete who represents USA explains why NCAA returning to NC should not be celebrated

Chris Mosier (Source: Facebook)

After North Carolina lawmakers passed House Bill 2, Chris Mosier was faced with a decision about whether or not to compete in one of the most meaningful races of his life because of location.

The transgender athlete didn’t feel welcome in the Tarheel state and he was concerned for his safety both in competing and in navigating public spaces outside of his big race.

HB2 may be gone, but now HB142 stands firmly in its place, assuring the LGBTQ community will remain without lawful protections in the state of North Carolina.

After demanding the HB2 repeal and threatening to leave North Carolina for years to come, the NCAA announced shortly after HB142’s passage that championships would return to the state. The organization noted that lawmakers met its bare minimum requirements to be considered a venue.

LGBTQ advocates, including Mosier, have criticized the sports organization’s decision to “reward” North Carolina for the charade of repealing the sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation. They’ve also said it sends a message to other states considering similar “bathroom bills” that there won’t be repercussions.

“As a transgender athlete, it feels like HB142 puts me at risk for discrimination, harassment and exclusion,” Mosier said.

He became the first transgender athlete to represent America after earning a spot on the Team USA sprint duathlon men’s team for the 2016 World Championship. He is also a coach and the vice president of the You Can Play Project, which represents LGBTQ athletes.

Because of HB142, Mosier has once again been faced with the decision about whether or not to compete in North Carolina, but he made clear on a conference call last week that he’s not sitting this race out. He will return to Cary on April 28 to compete in the Cary Du Classic race.

The ACLU organized the conference call. The organization is fighting the NCAA’s decision to return to North Carolina and fighting for LGBTQ communities to have lawful protections both in the state and across the country.

“Personally, it’s important for me to show up and to compete, because I think that sends a message that we will not be stopped, and while it will be uncomfortable and it will not be my favorite race, I think it is important that I not let HB142 stand in the way of me achieving my athletic goals,” he said. “That being said, I don’t think that student athletes need to be put in that position.”

When Mosier attended the race last year, he gassed up at the border, before entering North Carolina, went straight to his hotel, then went from the hotel to the race, from the race to the hotel and then went home. He didn’t spend any money in the state and was uncomfortable in that setting.

“Most of my competitors were not focusing on these things in the critical days and moments leading up to our race,” he added.

He said when he first transitioned categories in sports in 2010, he excelled after getting acceptance from his teammates and competitors.

“When I was able to stop worrying about what people might say to me at the starting line about my gender, or if I would be able to use a particular locker room [facility], I found that I could put more of my focus and my attention in my training, in my racing, and then that kind of effort showed,” he said. “I began winning my age group and eventually winning races overall.”

He said when he was in North Carolina last year, he didn’t even wear his regular uniform that said “Mosier U.S.A.” because he didn’t want to be a target after speaking out against HB2.

“Imagine being at the starting line at one of, if not the most, important sporting events of your career and being worried about being attacked or being harassed,” he said.

Competing without fear, having access to locker rooms and public spaces are critical components of achievement for an athlete, and North Carolina does not offer that with HB142 in place, according to Mosier.

“We know that these laws single out transgender people like me by sending a message that we are not worthy of legal protection and that we shouldn’t be included in public life,” he said. “HB142 creates an unsafe environment for people who are, or who are perceived to be, transgender, and it has a particular focus on harming trans people. … What’s happening here is that they are authorizing discrimination, and it situates me as a transgender person as a threat to the safety and privacy of others, which I am not, and transgender people are not.”

Mosier wants to believe the NCAA values inclusion. In fact, he has presented twice at NCAA inclusion conferences.

“I know there are good people doing great work at NCAA about inclusion, and that was not part of this conversation and that was not reflected in the outcome of them returning back to North Carolina,” he said.

Mosier said the LGBTQ community’s protection should not be an afterthought, adding that the values instilled in sports participants do not line up with North Carolina’s intolerance and discrimination.

“I think that sport is really a great equalizer, and it’s also a great vehicle for social change,” he said. “I know that those athletes who are accepting me, welcoming me, see me as a great athlete, learn that I’m transgender, learn more about transgender identity [and] they become better, more inclusive people outside of the games, outside of the races, and so there’s a great benefit to our interactions.”

agriculture, Commentary, Courts & the Law, HB2, News

This week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. School officials preparing to fire thousands of specialty teachers in order to meet K-3 classroom mandate

Welborn, a Republican member of the Guilford County Board of Education, says her district—the third largest in the state—will need to find an additional $16.6 million and 242 new teaching positions to meet the state’s legislative mandate to cut class sizes for kindergarten through third grade beginning next school year.

“We would have to make such drastic cuts, we literally don’t know where we would come up with the money,” says Welborn. “You just don’t do that unless you have absolutely no choice but to do it.”

All across North Carolina, districts like Guilford County say a statutory loss of flexibility over class size may soon yield massive job losses statewide among arts, music and physical education teachers, as well as teacher assistants. [Read more…]

2. Republican lawmaker presents inaccurate numbers at committee meeting to favor shrinking Court of Appeals

Republican lawmakers want to reduce the Court of Appeals and nothing’s going to stand in their way — not even their own inaccuracies.

House Bill 239 was debated at a Senate judiciary committee meeting Wednesday. Rep. Sarah Stevens, one of the bill sponsors, told committee members that in addition to reducing the court from 15 to 12 judges, it would also decrease the workload and add to the state Supreme Court’s workload.

She said she did not ask Chief Justice Mark Martin for an official stance on the bill, but she said he told her the state’s highest court could take on the bigger workload — almost 1,000 cases per year, according to Stevens.

Democrats were skeptical of her numbers, and Court of Appeals Judge Donna Stroud presented an entirely different set of numbers to Senators at the meeting during the public comments.

An NC Policy Watch public records request also found that Stevens’ numbers were wrong. [Read more…]

3. After partial HB2 repeal NC remains woefully behind on anti-discrimination protections

Now that HB2 has been partially repealed, enough for the NCAA and ACC anyway, a lot of folks in Raleigh are hoping the issue of discrimination in North Carolina goes away for a while, at least for the four years that local governments must now wait before protecting LGBTQ people from being fired or denied services because of their sexual orientation.

Most legislative leaders don’t want to talk about it and when they do they continue to mislead the public about their justification for allowing discrimination to remain in place until at least 2020.

House Speaker Tim Moore this week repeated a talking point he has used often in the last few months, that North Carolina’s anti-discrimination standard that does not include protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity is the same as the law in 30 other states. [Read more…]

4. Trump hypocrisy threatens again with massive proposed cuts to legal aid
The most litigious president in U.S. history says “no” to lawyers for poor people

No one ever accused Donald Trump of being consistent. If ever there was a politician for whom a gravitation toward blatant self-contradiction and 180 degree flip flops was embedded in the very fiber of his being, it would have to be the 45th president. Name an important issue of public policy and it seems a virtual lock that Trump will have staked out a position on all sides of it (and then probably contradicted each of them at one time or another with his own personal behavior).

As a “Fact Checker” article in the Washington Post recently observed: [Read more…]

5. Vote on hog “nuisance” lawsuits happened so fast, some lawmakers’ heads were spinning

In his next career, House Speaker Tim Moore should become a magician. On Thursday afternoon, a procedural sleight of hand wound up fast-tracking a controversial — and possibly unconstitutional — agriculture bill through its second reading.

House Bill 467 would limit the amount of damages plaintiffs could receive in litigation against hog farms. Under the measure, citizens could not sue over “quality of life” issues, such as odor. Payouts would be limited to the decrease in a property’s fair market or fair rental value. The bill would not only clamp down on future lawsuits but also the 26 that are pending against Murphy-Brown, which owns Smithfield Foods. It is being supported by several industry groups, including the NC Pork Council and the NC Farm Bureau.

During the regular House session, the first five bills slated for their second or third reading were being voted on in order. Suddenly, Moore broke with protocol and skipped over the next 11 bills, quickly calling for a vote on HB 467. As a result, several lawmakers were confused about the bill they were voting on. [Read more…]

***Upcoming event: Tuesday morning, April 18: NC Policy Watch presents a special Crucial Conversation breakfast ****

Immigration policy in the era of Trump: Where do things stand in North Carolina? What is the reality “on the ground”? How can caring and thinking people speak out and push back?

The presidency of Barack Obama was no picnic for American immigrants. Despite the incessant and inaccurate attacks of nativist voices (including the current inhabitant of the White House), the Obama administration actually brought about more deportations of unauthorized immigrants than occurred under any previous president – often with only the barest minimum of due process and devastating human carnage resulting.

Tragically, however, things have gone from badly flawed to dreadful under the administration of Donald Trump.

Register here