North Carolina newspaper editorials roundly condemned the Republican-led North Carolina legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory (R) for dismantling LGBT nondiscrimination protections, chastising state Republicans for their “legislative incompetence,” “recklessness and foolishness,” and “unwarranted intrusion” into local nondiscrimination ordinances.
North Carolina Legislature, Governor Roll Back LGBT Nondiscrimination Protections
NC Governor Signs Bill Barring Transgender People From Using Public Bathrooms That Match Their Gender Identity. On March 23, following a special session convened by North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a bill “that blocks local governments in the state from enacting ordinances to allow transgender people to use public bathrooms that match their gender identities.” The measure was introduced in response to a recently passed provision in Charlotte expanding nondiscrimination protections for transgender people:
North Carolina's governor on Wednesday signed into law a measure that blocks local governments in the state from enacting ordinances to allow transgender people to use public bathrooms that match their gender identities.
The legislation came in response to such a provision approved last month in Charlotte, the state's largest city, as part of an expanded nondiscrimination ordinance that also added protections for marital and familial status, sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity.
The bill passed both chambers of the legislature during a one-day special session convened in Raleigh to address the Charlotte law. Republican Governor Pat McCrory, who signed the bill late on Wednesday, said the Charlotte measure “defies common sense.”
“The basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings, a restroom or locker room, for each gender was violated by government overreach and intrusion by the mayor and city council of Charlotte,” McCrory said in a statement.
Controversy over the bathroom component echoed similar fights across the country as transgender advocates push for the right to choose restrooms and locker rooms, including in schools, based on gender identity rather than birth gender.
Republican lawmakers in North Carolina warned that the “radical” Charlotte measure would create a public safety issue by giving men, including sex offenders, access to women's bathrooms if allowed to take effect on April 1.
“This is a common sense bill that protects the privacy expectations of our citizens while clarifying local authority,” said Republican Representative Paul Stam. [Reuters, 3/23/16]
North Carolina Editorials Slam Republicans' “Discriminating,” “Misguided And Wasteful” Effort To Dismantle LGBT Nondiscrimination Protections
Charlotte Observer: Republicans “Choosing Discrimination” Have “Stained” The State And Are “Bow[ing] To The Worst In Us.” On March 24, the Charlotte Observer's editorial board torched Gov. McCrory and North Carolina Republican lawmakers for “decid[ing] [the] state will sanction discrimination,” and for dragging North Carolina “straight into the South's dark, bigoted past.” The board condemned Republicans' “flawed” arguments in favor of the measure, concluding its criticism by slamming Gov. McCrory as “a governor joining a sorrowful list of those who decided not to lead us forward, but to bow to the worst in us”:
But this legislation, and these 12 hours, was about much more than that. It was about a governor who decided his state will sanction discrimination against not only transgender people, but all homosexuals. It was about a governor who thinks it's acceptable to make it harder for black men and women to sue for employment discrimination.
It was, in the end, about a 21st century governor who joined a short, tragic list of 20th century governors. You know at least some of these names, probably: Wallace, Faubus, Barnett. They were men who fed our worst impulses, men who rallied citizens against citizens, instead of leading their states forward.
This is what Pat McCrory did Wednesday. In just 12 hours. It wasn't the stand in the schoolhouse door. It was a sprint past the bathroom door and straight into the South's dark, bigoted past.
But once again, we are a state that is notably choosing discrimination, just as North Carolina did in 2012 when it was the final state to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage.
This week, as then, North Carolina needed a leader who understood the damage this law might do - most importantly to its vulnerable citizens, but also to the face we present to businesses and workers considering our state.
Instead we got a late-night bill signing Wednesday, and some campaign tweets. We got a state newly stained, and a governor joining a sorrowful list of those who decided not to lead us forward, but to bow to the worst in us. [Charlotte Observer, 3/24/16]
The News & Observer: This “Discriminating, Single-Issue Fixation” Shows Republicans' “Legislative Incompetence,” “Recklessness And Foolishness.” On March 22, The News & Observer editorial board excoriated the Republican “legislature led by extremists” for “diminish[ing] the state's appeal as a welcoming and progressive place,” writing that the legislature's anti-transgender bill is evidence of “the recklessness and foolishness of the Republican leaders and those who follow them.” The board also slammed Republican lawmakers for “rushing to Raleigh to protect children in the bathroom after they've done so little to help them in the classroom, or in life in general”:
[T]here is, of course, the irony of these Republican lawmakers rushing to Raleigh to protect children in the bathroom after they've done so little to help them in the classroom, or in life in general. That 1 in 4 North Carolina children live in poverty, that many lack access to pre-K and after-school programs, that many children's families would be helped by the expansion of Medicaid and the restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit have not spurred the legislature to action.
All of this would seem to suggest that holding a special session on this matter - particularly over the objection of the governor, who usually calls for such sessions - is a complete waste of time and money. But there is one value in this special session. It will show in its discriminating, single-issue fixation the recklessness and foolishness of the Republican leaders and those who follow them.
The flaws of this session will not be obscured by double-talk about education funding and fairy tales about trickle-down tax cuts. This will be about one thing, and that thing will not be about bathrooms. It will be about legislative incompetence, how much it has cost North Carolina's people and how much it has diminished the state's appeal as a welcoming and progressive place.
House Speaker Tim Moore says the Charlotte ordinance must be overturned because, “It's a public safety issue.” But many transgender people no doubt already are using the bathroom of their choice without any threat to public safety. And if a transgender person bothers or assaults someone in a bathroom, there are already laws that address those actions. Also, it is the transgender person who is more likely at risk if forced to use a men's bathroom.
What Moore is really saying is that men are men and women are women. But life is not that simple, as the growing movement for transgender rights has shown. The law should respect that reality, not deny it. [The News & Observer, 3/22/16]
Greensboro News & Record: Republicans' “Manufactured” “Political Opportunity” Is Both “Misguided And Wasteful.” On March 23, the Greensboro News & Record editorial board slammed the “misguided and wasteful” effort by North Carolina Republicans to roll back Charlotte's nondiscrimination protections, writing that the legislature is using a “manufactured” “political opportunity” to “revoke progressive policies.” The board also criticized the Republican lawmakers for “all but equating” the transgender community “with sex offenders and pedophiles”:
[T]his debate has already been aired in Charlotte over the course of a year or more. The ordinance was an election issue last fall. Three of the top four vote-getters staked out positions in favor. The people of Charlotte, or most of them, were not worried about transgender sexual predators stalking children in bathrooms.
These voters must be the “political correctness mob” decried by Senate leader Phil Berger from Eden, population 15,000. House Speaker Tim Moore, from Kings Mountain, population 10,000, says it's his job to “correct this radical course” taken by the state's largest city.
And, not to miss an opportunity, the legislature might rein in other city initiatives it doesn't like, such as living wage ordinances. It aims to enforce “uniformity” across the state, by which it means dragging the most successful cities to the lowest common denominator.
Details like that, and facts, seem to be less important than the political opportunity legislators have manufactured. Emotional issues can divert attention from a sluggish economy or inadequate school funding. They provide an excuse to revoke progressive policies enacted by other cities -- with no warning that the attacks are coming and therefore no chance to counter them with public opinion.
In recent years, the Republican legislature has exerted the power of the state over local governments time after time. It seems to resent North Carolina's most progressive cities. Today brings the latest instance. The effort is misguided and wasteful. [Greensboro News & Record, 3/23/16]
Daily Reflector: Republican-Led Effort Is “An Unwarranted Intrusion Into Charlotte's Affairs, Based Solely On Political Ideology.” On March 23, the Daily Reflector editorial board condemned the “legislature's interference with the people of Charlotte's affairs,” slamming the Republicans' “unwarranted intrusion” into an issue that was already “voted on and settled.” The board also supported Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts' characterization that “the legislative session as a waste of taxpayer money,” and denounced Republican interference with North Carolina's communities' “process of finding its identity”:
The Republican leadership of the N.C. General Assembly on Wednesday completed a special panic session to stop the sky from falling in Charlotte after that city passed a controversial LGBT ordinance.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts was correct in characterizing the legislative session as a waste of taxpayer money, to the tune of $42,000 for the one-day session. Beyond that, it is an unwarranted intrusion into Charlotte's affairs, based solely on political ideology.
How the people of Charlotte feel about their LGBT community and accompanying lifestyle is not the issue in question, however. That has been asked, voted on and settled. The legislature's interference with the people of Charlotte's affairs is the issue.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Tuesday that while it is unclear what lawmakers will vote on, some have said they want to make sure other cities don't pass similar ordinances.
The question for Greenville-area residents is not whether they support an ordinance like the one passed in Charlotte, but whether they believe any ordinance passed about life in Greenville should be up to the people of Greenville or the people of King's Mountain.
There will be many issues like this that communities across North Carolina will face as they work to grow and prosper. The process of finding its identity is essential for every community's health and should not be interfered with. [Daily Reflector, 3/23/16]
The Fayetteville Observer: Republicans Codified A “License To Discriminate” With A “Legislative Overreach.” A March 24 editorial by The Fayetteville Observer editorial board slammed the North Carolina law both as “a license to discriminate” and a legislative overreach “to take away local self-governance.” The board ultimately wrote that Republican lawmakers “deserve” the “continuing cascade of unintended consequences from this ham-fisted legislative overreach”:
This was never about who gets to use which public bathroom in Charlotte. We wish it were that simple.
The sweeping state anti-discrimination law that was passed by the General Assembly in a one-day session Wednesday and immediately signed by the governor is about much more than bathrooms. It is in fact a license to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity. We doubt that lawmakers were unaware of that - especially when all of the Senate's Democrats walked out before the vote on the measure.
The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act was written in secrecy and only unveiled when lawmakers opened their special session. It establishes a statewide anti-discrimination policy that makes no mention of sexuality or gender and specifically forbids cities or counties from enacting protections more stringent than the state's code.
It's yet another move by the General Assembly to take away local self-governance - this from the majority party whose core principles include the belief that the best government is the one that's closest to the people.
We expect a continuing cascade of unintended consequences from this ham-fisted legislative overreach. It may not be quite what lawmakers hoped for in this election year. But it's what they deserve. [The Fayetteville Observer, 3/24/16]
Asheville Citizen-Times: Republicans Found “A Group Less Popular Than Themselves” To “Demonize.” On March 24, the Asheville Citizen-Times editorial board excoriated North Carolina Republicans for attacking “a group that is at best misunderstood and at worst ostracized, a group with few defenders that is custom-made to demonize.” The board slammed Republicans for equating the transgender community “with child molesters” and for “hoping to find a group less popular than themselves to be the attention of the public's focus,” writing, “They need a devil. Sadly, they've decided their own constituents will suffice”:
It would appear some Republican leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly believe they have indeed found their devil, a devil in the form of a winning political issue to whip up their base: The transgender community.
The issue here is fodder for political ads and fundraising, featuring lurid fears about a group that is at best misunderstood and at worst ostracized, a group with few defenders that is custom-made to demonize.
The LBGT community is, as was often the case with the Amendment One debate, essentially being equated with child molesters.
It's no surprise they're hoping to find a group less popular than themselves to be the attention of the public's focus.
They need a devil. Sadly, they've decided their own constituents will suffice. [Asheville Citizen-Times, 3/24/16]
“Bathroom Predator” Claim Used By Republican Defenders Of Bill Is A Debunked Myth
Independent Experts Have Debunked The “Bathroom Predator” Myth. Law enforcement officials, victims' rights advocates, and human rights commission officials in states and localities with transgender nondiscrimination protections have debunked the claim that sexual predators will exploit nondiscrimination laws, calling it “beyond specious.” [Media Matters, 3/20/14; Media Matters, 3/4/16; Media Matters, 2/16/16; Media Matters, 1/12/16; Media Matters, 10/15/15; Media Matters; 10/15/15]
This post has been updated with additional content.