The Backlash Against North Carolina’s Anti-LGBT Law Continues To Grow
Last week, in a matter of hours, North Carolina passed a law that erases all discrimination protections for the LGBT community within the state. Last Wednesday, the state legislature convened a special session, passed a multi-part anti-LGBT bill, and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed it into law all in one day. The law, HB 2, passed after Charlotte adopted an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance, prevents localities from passing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity and bars many transgender people from bathrooms that match their gender.
HB 2 may be the most extreme anti-LGBT bill ever passed and signed into law. Only two other states—Tennessee and Arkansas—have passed similar laws preempting local non-discrimination ordinances and North Carolina became the first state to ban transgender people from using restrooms according to their gender. The law also rolls back protections for other protected categories by preventing any civil suits from being filed even when discrimination is documented by the Human Rights Commission.
In a press conference on Monday, Gov. McCrory claimed HB 2 is “not taking away any rights” and does nothing to change the status quo in North Carolina. But by making it illegal for any North Carolina municipality to extend nondiscrimination protections HB 2 is changing the status quo. The law also voids LGBT protections that already existed in many North Carolina cities and puts transgender people at greater risk of discrimination or harassment in public bathrooms. For a more thorough fact checks of Gov. McCrory’s argument in favor of the law read this.
Almost immediately after Gov. McCrory signed the bill, it was met with backlash and a week later the opposition continues to grow. On Monday, LGBT equality groups, including the ACLU, the ACLU of North Carolina, and Equality North Carolina filed a federal lawsuit against McCrory. The state’s Attorney General Roy Cooper said yesterday he refuses to defend the law in court. He is joined by a host of other elected officials nationwide who have spoken out against the law and taken action: Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-VT), as well as the mayors of Seattle, San Francisco, and New York, banned official state travel to the state.
Late yesterday, Bank of America, which is headquartered in Charlotte, joined over 80 business leaders to demand the repeal of the discriminatory law. And the NBA, which is set to host its 2017 All Star Game in Charlotte, spoke out against the law and said it would consider relocating the event. In Georgia, pressure from businesses like Disney and the NFL helped force Gov. Nathan Deal to veto a similar anti-LGBT bill.
The consequences of the business backlash to anti-LGBT bills like HB 2 are substantial and the damage can extend beyond just employer opposition to include significant economic harm to state economies. For example, after Indiana passed an overly broad “religious liberty” bill in 2015, the Center for American Progress found that the measure lost or put at risk more than $250 million from Indiana’s economy. Not to mention the fact that LGBT-inclusive workplaces and economics provide significant positive outcomes for workers and companies and support for LGBT nondiscrimination laws is high among large corporations and small businesses alike.
BOTTOM LINE: In less than a day, North Carolina became the most hostile state for LGBT Americans. Under the guise of protecting privacy Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina legislature stripped existing LGBT protections and banned the creation of any new protections at once.
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