Post submitted by Stephen Peters, former Senior National Press Secretary and Spokesperson
Tonight, HRC lambasted North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory for signing into law an outrageous and unprecedented anti-LGBT bill passed in rapid succession today by the North Carolina House and Senate. The appalling new law eliminates existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people; prevents such provisions from being passed by cities in the future; and forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting 4.5 billion dollars in federal funding under Title IX at risk.
The bill was rushed through the North Carolina House today, and then passed the Senate 32-0 after Senate Democrats walked out of the chamber in protest. Without even bothering to consult with businesses and real North Carolinians who will be adversely affected by the measure, Gov. McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dark of night after a one-day special session called for the sole purpose of pushing this discriminatory bill through. The heinous measure came in response to the Charlotte City Council passing local LGBT non-discrimination protections last month.
“Governor McCrory’s reckless decision to sign this appalling legislation into law is a direct attack on the rights, well-being, and dignity of hundreds of thousands of LGBT North Carolinians and visitors to the state,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This outrageous new law not only strips away the ability of local jurisdictions to protect LGBT people from discrimination, but it goes further and targets transgender students who deserve to be treated equally at school -- not harassed and excluded. Governor McCrory’s action will be judged sorely by history and serve as a source of deep shame, remorse, and regret. North Carolinians throughout the state, business leaders, and those who believe in basic human dignity, fairness, and equality must stand up and demand that lawmakers repeal this new law before it inflicts tremendous damage on the state and thousands of citizens and visitors.”
Discrimination is a persistent problem for the LGBT community in North Carolina. The state is one of 32 states that lacks a fully inclusive statewide non-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force reported that in a survey of transgender people living in North Carolina, half of respondents had been harassed or discriminated against in public places like hotels, restrooms, restaurants and other public services. The nearly 30,000 transgender students in North Carolina shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of a discriminatory law that will lead to even higher rates of harassment, bullying, and even suicide. A new academic study recently found a direct correlation between high rates of suicide in the transgender community and lack of equal access to public spaces.
In the hurried, single-day session convened today, public comment was extremely limited and members were given very little time to give this extraordinary bill the kind of scrutiny it deserved. In an attempt to rush the bill through, the House Committee limited speakers to two minutes and legislators only had five-minutes to review the bill. Contrast that with two years of deliberation by the Charlotte City Council, which heard hours of public comment from constituents on both sides and in fact campaigned on the issue during elections this past fall. The actions of the state legislature are insulting to the Charlotte City Council, Charlotte residents, the Mayor, and all local governments whose decisions are subject to irresponsible second-guessing at the taxpayer’s expense.
The debate may have been rushed, but it didn’t escape notice of businesses who decried the measure: Dow Chemical, the NCAA , RedHat, the League of Municipalities, and Biogen all spoke out against the bill.
North Carolina is now the first state in the country to enact such a law attacking transgender students, even after several similar proposals were rejected across the country this year -- including a high-profile veto by the Governor of South Dakota on a very similar bill. North Carolina school districts that comply with the law will now be in direct violation of Title IX, subjecting the school districts to liability and putting an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding at risk. This section of the law offers costly supposed solutions to non-existent problems, and it forces schools to choose between complying with federal law -- plus doing the right thing for their students -- or complying with a state law that violates students’ civil rights. Read more about how this bill puts federal funding at risk here.