Stop legislating discrimination, North Carolina!

I try to keep politics out of my internet presence, aside from Twitter, because I believe some very different things from members of my family. I have found that the arguments don’t lead anywhere, except to upset my mother. I have been banned from talking politics at family gatherings and such for exactly that reason. Today, however, I cannot keep my thoughts to myself. This post is about NC House Bill 2 (HB2), also known as the “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act.”

Looking at the headline, you’ll be able to guess how I feel about this bill, so this is your warning to click back out of this post if you don’t want to read it.

I am disappointed and disgusted with my state this week. For those of you who don’t know, North Carolina’s General Assembly wasted $42,000 yesterday calling a special session in order to pass an “anti-discrimination bill” that gives homophobes and transphobes the ability to be as hateful as they like. This bill, which you can read in its full ratified form here, redefines the state discrimination policy to read,

“It is the policy of this State to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons to seek, obtain and hold employment, without discrimination or abridgement on account of race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex, or handicap by employers which regularly employ 15 or more employees.”
– HB2 Section 3.1, G.S. 143-422.2 A

“The General Assembly declares that the regulation of discriminatory practices in employment is properly an issue of general, statewide concern, such that this Article and other applicable provisions of the General Statutes supersede and preempt any ordinance, regulation, resolution, or policy adopted or imposed by a unit of local government or other political subdivision of the state that regulates or imposes any requirement upon an employer pertaining to the regulation of discriminatory practices in employment, except such regulations applicable to personnel employed by that body that are not otherwise in conflict with state law.”
– HB2 Section 3.1, G.S. 143-422.2 C

That last section removes the ability for municipalities, such as Raleigh who already included gender identity in it’s anti-discrimination policy, and Charlotte, whose “bathroom bill” was the catalyst for this session.

HB2 is a similar bill to those that were vetoed in South Dakota and that died in committee in Tennessee, except this one passed with a huge majority in the NC House of Representatives and in the Senate. It also bears resemblance to the religious freedom bill in Georgia, discussion of which led to Disney, Marvel and the NFL threatening to pull their business from the state if it is passed. While no such threat has been made to North Carolina, possibly due to the very short window in which this bill was discussed and passed, Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 10.09.16 AMseveral major businesses in North Carolina have denounced HB2.

Red Hat, Inc. did not make an official statement on their social media, but they did retweet several employees who all used #WeAreNotThis, as you can see to the right. You can see their full twitter feed here.

Dow Chemical is one of 20 Fortune 500 companies who have also encouraged Gov. Deal of Georgia to veto the bill that he has yet to decide on, because it legislates anti-gay discrimination. They also tweeted about HB2.

For those of you who are not members of the LGBTQ+ community, you should also know that there was a second part to this bill titled “Statewide Consistency in Laws Related to Employment and contracting,” also known as the “Wage and Hour Act.” The Wage and Hour Act, in similar fashion, forces municipalities to not legislate higher wages for their citizens, instead adhering to the $7.25 Federal minimum wage.  You can find this on pages 3 and 4 of the ratified bill, as linked above.

I have lived in North Carolina for the majority of my life. My family moved here in August of 1998. I started public school here mere weeks before my fifth birthday, and stayed in the Wake County Public School System until I graduated in 2011. The only two times I have voted have been in this state I went to college at Western Carolina University, a UNC system public college, and I now work in the beautiful capital of this state. There are so many good things about this state, and there are things that need improvement, as there are anywhere. I have worked for the federal minimum wage, I’ve worked two jobs in an attempt to make my ends meet up enough for me to move out of my parents’ house on my own. During college, I was usually juggling two and three jobs in order to just pay for my car insurance and cell phone. I know several trans men and women, many of which are already afraid to use public bathrooms because they are afraid of being harassed for not “passing” as their true gender identity. Not one person I know, cisgendered or transgendered would ever reveal their privates in a public bathroom, nor would they attack or assault anyone. These laws hurt everyone, and this bill is a disgrace.

For a state that touts “First in Freedom” on its license plates, our legislative bodies are making a concerted effort to make freedom more limited for anyone who doesn’t live exactly the way that they do.This is an unacceptable abuse of power from a party that touts itself as a fan of small government.

I’d like to encourage everyone to read this bill and write to your representatives and Senators about this law. For economic, moral and ethical reasons, we cannot let this law stand in our legislation.

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