Our View: North Carolina decision takes wrong side on civil rights issue

Before we get into recent events, it should be noted that the state has an unenforceable sodomy law that still hasn’t been repealed and their current hate crime laws do not protect gender identity or sexual orientation. While the state itself does not prevent discrimination on those topics, some counties do, such as Buncombe, Mecklenburg and Orange, alongside with the cities and towns of Asheville, Charlotte, Boone, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Greensboro and Raleigh, which all prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Several other counties and cities prohibit discrimination on basis of sexual orientation only.

Our fellow brothers, sisters and siblings in North Carolina are trying, don’t get it wrong. In June 2014, the North Carolina House passed 115-0 vote for an amendment to a bill trying to prohibit discrimination in charter schools, but it never ended up making it into the final draft of the bill, so we must give credit where credit is due. Activists are trying their best to support LGBTQIA inhabitants, visitors and students in North Carolina.

But last week, Gov. Pat McCrory passed a game-changer, House Bill 2. House Bill 2, also known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, is a statewide policy that prohibits individuals from using public bathrooms that do not correspond with their biological sex.

In addition, this bill reserves the right to say state laws trump local ordinances, meaning that the counties and cities/towns listed above are now at the mercy of state non-discrimination laws the House can now pass.

This bill came to be because of Charlotte’s recent nondiscrimination ordinance that allowed trans individuals to use the bathroom their gender identity aligned with, regardless of their sex, so the General Assembly called a special session and then voted and passed 82-26 in the state House and 32-0 in the state Senate with the Senate Democrats having left in protest of the vote/bill.

While not affected personally, it hurts our hearts to know that the trans community, our brothers, sisters and siblings, are facing discrimination across the nation: first the close calls in South Dakota and Georgia, and now the enforcement of House Bill 2 in North Carolina. We do not have to be personally affected to be appalled and offended, and we will not be silent about this issue just because it’s not happening directly to us.

Many citizens of North Carolina have been sympathetic to the LGBTQIA community about the new legislation and have been tweeting #NoHateInMyState and #WeAreNotThis to prove that they are not in support of the new legislation and do not side with where they reside.

We can all learn from North Carolina in what not to do. Last June we made a revolutionary step forward in legalizing marriage for all, in every state. Let’s try to not take as many steps back as we have forward. We are not this, America, and we can be  a lot better.

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