It’s time to Break It Down!
In the world according to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, the dastardly liberals of America conspired to create an issue specifically designed to ensnarl NC Republicans who, by the way, were at the time operating blithely in their own orbit doing harm to no one, in a gaggle of tawdry sensationalism and controversy. In my altogether at variance view, that is truly the stuff of fairytales. IJS!
So how did we get here? On Monday, February 22, 2016, the Charlotte City Council voted by a 7-4 majority to pass a measure granting transgender people the right to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. As passed, the law was scheduled to take effect in April. The idea was thoroughly reviewed and discussed by members of the City Council.
The law banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in housing and places of public accommodation. The most controversial and hotly debated provision of the law permits transgender residents to choose restrooms corresponding to the gender with which they identify.
Other so-called bathroom bills have sparked pointed debates in local and state governments across the country in the last several months. En masse, supporters view such bills as a preservation of the dignity and safety of transgender individuals. Alternately, opponents see the measures as opening the door for sexual predators to gain access to bathrooms of the opposite sex. As an aside, it is worth noting that while there is no history of rogue predatory transgender stalking and assaulting unsuspecting members of the opposite sex, the concern (at least among conservatives) is real, and must be addressed, accordingly.
The resulting debate in general has been particularly heated when restrooms and locker facilities in public schools are involved. As it were, the Charlotte measure does not include schools, but that fact does not remove the element of contentiousness from the conversation. In fact, the fervor may be somewhat more heated as the City’s Democratic Mayor goes head-to-head with a man who is a former Republican Mayor of the City, and the state’s current Governor.
Charlotte’s Mayor, Jennifer Roberts speaking after the passage of the law, said:
“I’m pleased that Charlotte has sent a signal that we will treat people with dignity and respect, even when we disagree.”
North Carolina Governor, Pat McCrory was already on record expressing concern that provisions allowing transgender people to select bathrooms based on their gender identity poses a threat to public safety and warned that state lawmakers could step in to negate the vote. After its passage, he addressed the Charlotte measure directly, writing to Charlotte City Council Members (The Mayor votes only in the event of a tie):
“This action of allowing a person with male anatomy, for example, to use a female restroom or locker room will most likely cause immediate State legislative intervention which I would support as governor.”
That is precisely what the General Assembly and the Governor did. After a one-day special session of the General Assembly, Governor McCrory signed North Carolina House Bill 2, or as it has become known familiarly, HB2, on March 23, 2016. The law not only overturned Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance, but also included provisions that exclude LGBT people from protection.
The reaction across a wide spectrum of not so Right Wing elements of America was swift and steady. From planned business relocations to concert cancellations to conventions pulled to events, and hotel bookings scrapped, cancellations began to emerge on a regular basis, and continue even now. Almost right out of the gate Bruce Springsteen cancelled a North Carolina engagement. Since then Ringo Starr, Pearl Jam, Boston, and 98 Degrees canceled appearances. Just yesterday Itzhak Perlman nixed a scheduled concert.
By April 18, or less than a month after the State’s action, the Raleigh Visitors Bureau reported the loss of an estimated $28 million in potential spending. By the end of April, the Asheville Tourism Leader estimated that 7 groups had pulled out, accounting for over $1.5 million in estimated losses. Charlotte, Wilmington, and High Point, among others, also reported lost events, relocations, and revenue.
The Kellogg Foundation pulled a Retreat scheduled for Asheville, Architectural Digest pulled a Spring Party from High Point, the City of Wilmington lost an Architecture Conference, Cirque du Soleil canceled, the Community Transportation Association of America scratched plans, PayPal opted not to fulfill a relocation to Charlotte, and Lionsgate pulled a new Hulu film, also slated for Charlotte.
In response to the pulsating economic dissonance that has resulted due to the imposition of HB2, Governor McCrory conceived a creatively novel response. He contended, and in fact continues to posit that despite the fact he personally urged the General Assembly to take action against Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance, and even though his GOP colleagues pulled this rabbit out of their top hat after only one day’s legislative work, and notwithstanding the Republican members of the General Assembly having drafted and pushed HB2 through both Chambers without the presence of a single Democratic Senator, and totally discounting that he signed HB2 less than 12 hours after its introduction, and forget about the fact he has passionately defended HB2 daily since its inception, the Governor argues, with a straight face, that liberals are to blame for HB2. In fact, according to the New York Times:
Governor McCrory said he suspected that “the entire matter had been orchestrated by Democrats and the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group, to give Democrats an advantage in a tight governor’s race.” According to the report, the Governor used the word “Orwellian” twice, in describing the matter.
If you are counting at home, the City of Charlotte kicked things off with an anti-discrimination ordinance. This action was countered by the State of North Carolina issuing a drive by, I mean, one-day legislative response that came to be known as HB2. After a series of cancelled concerts, conferences, business relocations, and other events, the Justice Department entered the fray by suing the State of North Carolina. That action led to Governor McCrory filing a counter suit.
In the balance, the feds offered to relieve the State of $billions in federal funding. The State GOP has characterized this as an unprovoked threat and insists that the mere suggestion constitutes intimidation and overreach by the federal government. The matter has gained attention throughout the country and abroad. I am not at all sure how the matter will play out when all is said and done. I do believe both sides are attempting to extract a measure of leverage out of the proceedings.
By depicting North Carolina as a victim of an overzealous Federal Regime, intent upon stealing, or at least influencing, a tight Governor’s race, the Right is attempting to both engender a sympathetic reaction from conservatives, and jumpstart a robust funding stream, and huge voter turnout in November. Undoubtedly, the left would like to activate an empathic response of its own.
Many of my friends and associates believe it’s just a matter of time before the conservative faction, after putting up “the good fight,” will recognize that it is over matched, come to its senses, and concede. While that would be an outcome many would view as logical, it’s not what I expect. I think the NC GOP, much like the Trump-led national Republican Party is bound and determined to take down every aspect of what they consider Obama’s Democrats, or fight to the bitter end, and if necessary, go down trying. To that end, I believe they have said, in effect, “HB2: Not in Our (NC) Bathrooms!”
I’m done; holla back!
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Yeah, it’s an interesting story.
PS. You do know that most people’s home bathrooms are gender neutral, as are port-o-johns. Perhaps there should be a bathroom law expressly aimed at sexual predators, most of whom are heterosexual. That would be sensible.
There have probably been more Republican lawmakers actually caught in predatory sexual encounters in restrooms than gender benders. Make a law reflecting that reality. 😉