Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and other supporters of HB2, North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBT law, are desperately still trying to convince us that it’s all about bathroom safety, protecting children from sexual predators masquerading as transgender males.
It’s not working. People are not fooled. HB2 is really not about bathrooms or locker rooms at all.
The absurd and offensive claims about transgender people from the law’s supporters are a smokescreen for their real goal, to stand in the way of equal rights for LGBT people in North Carolina.
This week brought more convincing evidence of that in the circulation of an anti-LGBT loyalty pledge for legislators that was later withdrawn and a bellicose statement from Sen. Berger that includes another important confirmation of the real intentions of supporters of the law.
The pledge came from the misnamed N.C Values Coalition—discrimination is not North Carolina value—and it asked lawmakers not only to promise to oppose any changes to the bathroom part of the law but also to pledge not to support any legislation that adds sexual orientation or gender identity to any statute or state policy. The coalition later withdrew the pledge, saying it was sent out in error, but the point was clear.
The NC Values Coalition under no circumstances wants LGBT people in North Carolina to have basic protections from discrimination in employment or public accommodations. The coalition insists that it be legal for people to be fired or denied hotel rooms because they are gay.
And more importantly, so do Phil Berger and Pat McCrory and everybody else who voted for HB2 and are defending it now.
Berger bellowed about bathroom safety this week in prepared remarks at a news conference previewing the legislative session that begins Monday and said he saw no reason to change, much less repeal, HB2 despite the growing job loss and negative impact it is having on the state.
Berger also repeated a key talking point of the pro-discrimination forces, that the non-discrimination standard in HB2 is as strong, if not stronger than the federal protections.
What Berger didn’t mention is that unlike the federal nondiscrimination law which includes sex in the list of protected categories, HB2 says people can’t be discriminated against based on their “biological sex.”
That’s a vital difference because federal courts and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have interpreted the inclusion of sex as a protected class in the federal law to provide protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The addition of biological sex in HB2 takes away that possibility in state law. In other words, Berger and McCrory wanted to make sure that LGBT are not protected from discrimination in North Carolina, just like the N.C. Values Coalition wants.
That’s also why the House and Senate rejected amendments that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to statewide nondiscrimination law.
Gov. McCrory said on the Meet the Press last weekend that he didn’t think it should be illegal for businesses to fire LGBT employees because he didn’t believe government should be the HR director for private companies, but the law already prohibits workers from being fired bases on race, religion, sex, etc.
It means that McCrory, like Berger and the N.C. Values Coalition, supports allowing businesses to fire or deny services to people based in their sexual orientation or gender identity.
They can keep trying to scare people about bathrooms and demonizing transgender people all they want, but their real intention is to stand in the way of equal rights for LGBT people in North Carolina.
A recent national Associated Press story came with a headline declaring that McCrory was the national face of the anti-LBGT law and that’s true and North Carolina is now ground zero for the debate about LGBT rights in America.
McCrory and Berger are on the wrong side of history. Justice and equality will prevail eventually. They always do.
The question now is how long it will take and how much damage will be done to the state thanks to its current leadership— how many people will be demonized and discriminated against in the process.