A discussion of NC’s new discriminatory policy
On March 23, 2016, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed legislation eliminating anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals. This is a huge step backward for human rights and interpersonal communications in our country.
Last month, legislation passed that would ban citizens from using bathrooms assigned for the gender with which they identify, but instead would force people in the tar heel state to use bathrooms based on their gender from birth.
“The law is basically saying depending on your biological sex, that dictates what bathroom you will be able to go into,” Chelsea Moroski, the project coordinator at the Cortland LGBT Resource Center, said. “So for people of the LGBT community, there’s a lot of people who don’t necessarily fit into those two gender binaries.”
In response, several companies have refused to do business in the state. PayPal, one of the largest online payment systems, has become the first major company to pull out of an existing project. Dow Chemical Co. and American Airlines have also joined in condemning the law.
States and public figures are also making their voices heard on the subject. The list includes Ringo Starr, Michael Moore, Rob Reiner, Bryan Adams and Sharon Stone. Groups like Mumford and Sons are taking the stage as scheduled in North Carolina, but are donating to a local LGBT organization.
After the legislation was signed, Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert in Greensboro. In a public statement he explained his decision.
“Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them,” Springsteen said.
In addition to the 66-year-old singer, upwards of a dozen conventions have cut ties and pulled out of events in the state according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.
New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo banned all non-essential travel to North Carolina. The governor believes that House Bill 2, its name in the North Carolina legislature, is a direct violation of any equal rights ideology.
“In New York, we believe that all people — regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation — deserve the same rights and protections under the law,” Cuomo said in a statement. “From Stonewall to marriage equality, our state has been a beacon of hope and equality for the LGBT community, and we will not stand idly by as misguided legislation replicates the discrimination of the past. As long as there is a law in North Carolina that creates the grounds for discrimination against LGBT people, I am barring non-essential state travel to that state.”
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has followed suit.
“That law blocks local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules to grant protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender women and men. It violates the values and the laws of our great state. In my view, it is destructive to the progress we have made to provide equal rights and protections to our LGBT community,” Dayton wrote in a letter to state employees.
So much progress have been made in the last century to create equality. The first gay rights advocacy group was formed in 1924 by Henry Gerber in Chicago. They called themselves “The Society for Human Rights” and received a charter from the state of Illinois. The 1940s brought a wave of scientific analysis of human sexuality, and scientists like Alfred Kinsey and Wilhelm Reich found that a large number of people did not conform to traditional binaries.
There was a retreat from progress in the 1950s, condemning deviation from heteronormativity as a mental illness. However, the 1960s and 70s was time of whirlwind dissatisfaction by the youth of America, and the LGBT community took full advantage of the opportunity to enact change. For years marches and protests rocked the streets, including the Stonewall riots of 1969. In 1977, Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician elected to office in California, introduced legislation that would protect homosexual individuals from being fired from their jobs. Milk was assassinated the following year.
Fast forward to 2011, when President Obama announces that his administration would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which had prohibited same sex couples from getting married. And again to 2015, when the act was struck down permanently and marriage for all became legal.
This new law delegitimizes gender identity for many citizens in North Carolina. But the country’s response has shown that there are many Americans willing to stand up for equality and the rights of their peers.
Sandra Babcock, a professor of law at Cornell University, said that she believes the law has a good chance of being repealed.
“One of the things that’s been really interesting is to see the reaction of the business community, and the very very quick response by business leaders indicating that they would withdraw support for expanding their businesses in North Carolina, investing in the North Carolina economy, providing jobs to residents of the state and the reaction from the state has also been pretty swift,” Babcock said. “I think that money speaks louder than words in some cases.”
Only time will tell whether or not she’s right.
Anna Lamb is a freshman journalism major who is proud to not be a North Carolinian. You can email her at [email protected].