The folks supporting the sweeping anti-LGBT bill passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory keep saying it is all about bathroom safety, that allowing transgender people to use the public restroom that corresponds to their gender identity would somehow lead to a flurry of sexual assaults in bathrooms by predators dressed as women.
Never mind that there is no evidence of that happening in the 17 states and more than 200 local governments that already give transgender people that basic dignity.
But it is not about the facts anyway. It’s about creating a soundbite to scare people into opposing LGBT rights overall and to activate the fundamentalist wing of the Republican Party in an election year.
That’s why the supporters not only never mention the absence of problems in other places where transgender people are treated with respect, it’s why they never admit that the law allows LGBT people to be fired from their jobs or denied services because of their sexual orientation.
And it’s why the backers of the law never comment on a provision that bans workers illegally fired because of their race or religion or gender from suing in state court, joining North Carolina with Mississippi as the only two states in the country that deny workers that right.
That’s the first thing to know about the sweeping discrimination law that is prompting corporations to cancel plans to create jobs in North Carolina and making dozens of groups rethink plans to hold conferences and meetings in the state.
The claims about bathroom safety are ridiculous—but it is not just about bathrooms.
The second most absurd claim by supporters of one of the most misguided laws passed in North Carolina in the last 50 years is that it’s not motivated by hate or discrimination against LGBT people.
One of the member groups of misnamed the NC Values Coalition recently circulated an op-ed by a supporter of the law who claimed to “love the LGBT community” but thought the law was necessary and a common sense safety measure.
Prominent supporters of the law frequently try to make that point, that they don’t want to punish LGBT people, they respect them and are just standing up for traditional values.
Folks at the N.C Family Council recently bristled on social media when they were rightly called out for supporting a law that allows businesses to fire and deny services to LGBT people because of their sexual orientation.
The group tweeted that there is no hate in their position on the discrimination law.
But this week the leader of the N.C. Family Policy Council and the rest of NC Values Coalition shared a stage at a rally supporting the new law with two ministers widely known for their bitterly homophobic rhetoric.
Bishop Patrick Wooden, from the Upper Room Church of God in Christ, was one of them. The LGBT group GLAAD has pointed out that 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.
No, not much hate here.
When two of the key speakers at an organized rally supporting the anti-LGBT legislation have views like Wooden and Baity that are widely known, claims that there’s no hate in the crusade against equal rights fall flat. After all, you are known by the company you keep. Somebody invited the Wooden and Baity to the stage.
That’s all worth remembering as corporations keep cancelling jobs in the state because of HB2 and its supporters keep protesting that it’s only about safety and common sense.
Two things could not be clearer. This anti-LGBT law is not only about bathrooms—and there is a lot of hate behind it.