Archive for LGBT issues
COLUMBIA — Voters fired a backlash against Statehouse incumbents in runoff elections Tuesday as a string of veteran lawmakers were tossed out of office, including controversial Spartanburg County Republican Sen. Lee Bright, who made gender bathrooms and defense of gun rights a cornerstone of his last months in office.
Bright, who is also known for his failed bills to track refugees resettling in South Carolina and to limit which bathrooms transgender individuals can use, lost to former state Rep. Scott Talley, a favorite of both Gov. Nikki Haley and the S.C. Chamber of Commerce. Both had been critical of Bright’s over-the-top stances.
So now the guy who signed the anti-LGBT “Hate Bill 2” into law in North Carolina wants to help Florida in the aftermath of the slaughter at the gay bar in Orlando. Gov. Pat McCrory is getting right on it:
McCrory issued a statement Sunday calling the shooting a tragedy that should never happen in America. He says those killed were “innocent victims of an inexcusable act of violence.”
McCrory says his prayers go out to the families, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the people of Orlando.
He says he’s contacted Florida Governor Rick Scott offering any assistance North Carolina can provide.
Here’s one suggestion:
North Carolina continues to receive fallout and national opprobrium for its legislative freakout over transgender rights. Americans celebrate personal freedom and people going their own way, don’t we, unless it involves gender and sex? I have already written about how North Carolina’s HB2 is a Trojan Horse for a crackdown on workers’ rights. But some coffee urn jokes this week about bathrooms and people’s chosen “lifetyles” got under my skin.
Just as despite everyday observation, the Earth is not flat, neither are sex and gender binary. What laws like North Carolina’s HB2 demand is legally enforced conformity to a binary standard in a world built upon natural variance.
When I was a child, an aunt, uncle and cousins lived next door to a family of albinos. To a kid, they appeared pretty odd. Weird even. But after a few visits and a few neighborhood cookouts, they were just the O’Shaughnessys (not their real name). Both different and the same. They weren’t sequestered in a remote neighborhood of the city, told they had to use a special restroom, or treated as potential criminals. At least, not by us. And albinism is far rarer (1 in 20,000) than the kind of sex and sexual identity variances North Carolina just tried to make disappear through legislation. Disappearing what makes us uncomfortable has become a thing here. The legislature already decreed that the sea level is not rising.
Critics now call the so-called “bathroom bill” aimed at his gay and transgender constituents a radical Trojan Horse for eliminating anti-discrimination protections in the workplace. Since McCrory signed the bill passed during a one-day, special session Republicans called in March, prominent businesses began boycotting the state, canceling expansions and conventions there, and national performers such as Bruce Springsteen began canceling concert dates. Projected job losses number well over 1,000. Revenue losses have not been calculated. It’s almost as if … they designed HB2 to fail.
The national and international backlash forced McCrory yesterday to sign an executive order aimed at quelling the controversy over the bill he signed just weeks ago:
House Bill 2 (HB2), North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law is drawing lots of fire from inside and outside the state. New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and West Palm Beach have banned travel to North Carolina for their employees. Apple, Biogen, PayPal, IBM, and the NBA have condemned the law. Plus Dow Chemical, Google, Bayer, the NCAA, and others. The press center for the annual High Point furniture trade show announced Monday that “dozens of customers have contacted the High Point Market Authority to inform us that they have cancelled plans to attend the Market in April due to passage of HB2.”
Yesterday, former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl Jr. criticized HB2 as “inappropriate, unnecessary legislation that will hurt North Carolina.” The Charlotte-based Bank of America was a major player in the financial crisis in 2008, but still figures prominently among the state’s employers. McColl’s criticism will not help McCrory, Charlotte’s former mayor.
Republicans in the swing state of North Carolina must feel heavily gerrymandering the state hasn’t given them enough of an election-year edge. Nor implementing perhaps the most radical voter restrictions in the country. In the chaos caused by the new voter ID law during last week’s record primary turnout, voters cast over 40,000 provisional ballots. The highest concentrations were on college campuses.
But there is nothing quite like a hot-button, social issue to bring out the GOP faithful and distract them from thinking about the condition of the state’s schools, or their jobs, or how screwed up their state Republican party is.
Yesterday, the GOP-controlled legislature convened a special session to overturn a Charlotte ordinance allowing transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their identities. But that was just the warm-up. “The bill also prevents local governments from passing ordinances that prohibit discrimination beyond a state standard based on race, religion, color, national origin and biological sex,” according to the Charlotte Observer. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the measure last night. But not before state Senate Democrats walked out in protest.
North Carolina legislators were cooking up some particularly noxious potions yesterday here in one of Charlie Pierce’s Laboratories of Democracy. Pay attention. North Carolina has become wingnut DARPA for this stuff.
The NC state legislature adjourned for the year about the time I got up to write this. Twitter and email lit up last night after all the turds they’d kept plugged up in the legislative pipeline until the very last all spewed out into public view at once. Much like the infamous “motorcycle vagina” bill of 2013, some of the worst appeared as surprise revisions to other bills.
Ironically, a colleague yesterday noticed that sometime after September 2012 our local GOP website had quietly removed its “Principles” page from its website. They included “I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.” Well, yesterday the “closest to the people” people in the state capitol attempted to prevent local governments in North Carolina from doing anything remotely progressive:
In “the land of the free,” the fight for equality is far from over.
In a 5-4 decision yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in all 50 states. We won’t dwell this morning on the particulars of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority decision, nor on Justice Antonin Scalia’s bitter dissent, but rather on what comes next.
|Marriage equality victory rally last night in Asheville, NC.|
At the victory rally in Asheville, NC last night, social justice activists addressed the crowd:
“It’s extraordinary,” said the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. “There are people who have been waiting their whole lives to marry the person they love, and now they are equal under the law. Think about the families racing to the courthouse in Mississippi right now. I’m overwhelmed by the emotion and historical significance of this. It took decades and decades of work to get to this moment.”
Now, about Mississippi …
Dignity played a prominent part in the Obergefell v. Hodges oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. The funny thing about dignity is who deserves it depends on who is making the argument.
To borrow climate change deniers’ popular formulation, I’m not a
scientist lawyer, but I’d be embarrassed to be making the arguments Michigan’s former solicitor general presented against marriage equality before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. John J. Bursch, representing Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, argued right out of the gate that recognizing same-sex marriage will harm the state’s interest in regulating procreation.
Regulation and Big Gummint are blasphemies in red states such as Kentucky and Tennessee. Arguing on their behalf for preserving states’ interest in regulating procreation might have been enough to call the rest of Bursch’s presentation on account of Godwin’s Law or him being a communist. But no one blinked. Bursch persisted:
For those growing up in the 1960s, Eddie Haskell from the sitcom “Leave It to Beaver” was our archetype for the conniving, two-faced schemer. Superficially polite — over-polite — when parents were present, he dropped the facade and became his true, devious self whenever the adults left the room. IIRC, at the end of one episode, Eddie gets his comeuppance. As he is led away, he is still working his Mr. Innocent routine, mystified that it seems not to be sparing him punishment. Wally Cleaver turns to his little brother and observes, “Everybody’s wise to Eddie except Eddie.”
It’s not a new observation that conservative politics often exhibits the same public/private, two-faced quality. This week’s sideshow in Indiana over its Religious Freedom Restoration Act bought Eddie to mind again. Protestations that the bill meant to protect religious practice rather than license discrimination were just as transparent.
In the sitcom, Ward and June Cleaver always play along with Eddie’s innocent act, never confronting him about being a fraud, and tacitly encouraging him to keep lying. In real life, don’t our Wards and Junes of the press do the same?
A radio newscast last night reported that RFRA supporters in Indiana complained that the changes made to the law yesterday under national pressure had stripped the law of its religious protections. That is, the right of business owners to use their religious belief to discriminate against customers.