Letters from a Lesbian-April 2016
North Carolina has just passed some awful, hateful, prejudiced legislation. Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill on Wednesday, March 23, that passed 83 – 25 in the (state) House of Representatives, and 32 – 0 in the state Senate, all in a special session.
The bill is called HB 2, and it could block cities and counties from creating antidiscrimination legislation to protect the LGBT community, among others, and it could have tremendous implications for the entire state.
HB 2 would set an anti-discrimination policy that goes state-wide. It would ban employers and businesses state-wide from discriminating against employees or customers based on their gender, orientation, race, age, ethnicity (or country of origin, if they are immigrants), faith/religion/belief system, or “biological sex (we’ll address that later).” So basically, you can get turned down for a job because of your skin color, gender, orientation, religion, age, or any other reason. Businesses can deny you goods and services for those same reasons. This bill also allows for employers and businesses to deny employees protection, wages, leave policies (e.g., Family Medical Leave Act), and more all on the basis of discrimination. To add insult to injury, this actually prevents local governments from passing nondiscrimination policies. Discrimination is back in full force. It seems unreal, especially in the fact that good, non-bigoted policies cannot be created to fight it. Can they really do that?! The answer, sadly, is yes. Yes they can, and yes they have.
This bill is so focused on targeting the LGBT community that would prevent transgender people from using the restrooms of the gender with which they identify, and if it is in a school setting, it would actually prevent the schools from allowing transgender students to use said restroom. The schools won’t even be allowed to help!
This bill is riddled with bigotry. This is the right wing’s backlash against all of the LGBT progress that’s been made over the past few years – this last year with the Supreme Court being the straw that broke their camel’s back. There is always a backlash against forward movement, then there is backlash against the backlash. It’s change – it’s how we change. The problem here is that the change is so obviously rooted in hatred. It’s because this legislation would set us so far back. We’re going far past the initial progression. This bill allows for racial and gender discrimination, which puts us…arguably…one hundred years ago socially and politically. That is more than a backlash. That is regression, and it is a regression we cannot afford to have happen.
Gloria Steinem once said, “Obviously, no LGBT person should be denied the ability to be who they are because their boss disagrees.” She’s right. However, politicians in North Carolina seem to disagree. Remember how I said earlier that this bill passed 32 – 0 in the state Senate? According to the Huffington Post, the democrats had left before the vote. What does that mean? Could they have fought it? Was their absence sheer negligence, or was there something more to it than that? I suppose we’ll never know, but that kind of a loss is tragic when you think about the severity of this bill.
Remember I also said we’d discuss “biological sex?” That was one thing Gov. McCrory focused on. They don’t want transgender people to use bathrooms or facilities of the gender with which they identify. Biological sex is their term for the gender which someone is born, not the one with which they identify. McCrory even went so far as to tweet, “I signed bipartisan legislation to stop the breach of basic privacy and etiquette, ensure privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms;” and “Ordinance defied common sense, allowing men to use women’s bathroom/locker room for instance. That’s why I signed bipartisan bill to stop it.” He addresses it by saying men would be using women’s bathrooms or locker rooms. This isn’t about some peeping Tom or someone who is unsafe. In fact, the transgender community is more at risk of being attacked than they are being attackers. This isn’t about protecting women from creepy guys in their locker room. His ignorance, however, blinds him to the true nature of this situation.
The reality is, this is very scary legislation. In a way, there is some good news here. This bill also does not allow for a raise of minimum wage, and it also strips veterans of protections and policies. It’s already starting to ruffle a lot of feathers, including those of North Carolina Attorney General, Roy Cooper. Cooper said in a video, “North Carolina is better than this. Discrimination is wrong, period. That North Carolina is putting discrimination into the law is shameful.” It is beyond frightening that someone even came up with the idea for this legislation, let alone the landslide by which it has been signed into law. I don’t know where we go from here, but I do know that we have to move forward. We have to stay strong, and stay unified. Whatever it is that our Hispanic brothers and sisters, LGBT brothers and sisters, and Hispanic LGBT brothers and sisters in North Carolina need, we must be ready, willing, and available to help them. We can – and we will – overcome this hatred. Good always triumphs. One final quote from Gloria Steinem, “A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.” I hope we all live to see that society. Stay strong, everyone.
Life life in your own special way,