As noted in a previous post, North Carolina’s newest law is so ill-considered that it mandates the very thing is was supposedly meant to prevent. For example, the law (full text here) requires some men (complete with beards) to use women’s restrooms if their birth certificate identifies them as female and the restroom they’re using is in a state or local government building. On top of that, it cancels longstanding civil rights for North Carolinians, such as the right to sue in state court for discrimination in employment on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability.
The poorly-thought-out law was adopted in irrational haste by a special one-day session of the far-right legislature and then immediately signed by the supposedly more moderate governor, Pat McCrory. There was an immediate explosion of condemnation from inside and outside the state from a wide swatch of the political spectrum and from civil rights groups, nonprofit and sports and academic organizations, and major businesses, including Duke University, the NCAA, the NBA, American Airlines, Wells Fargo, Disney, Microsoft, and Apple, among others. The people who operate the High Point Furniture Market, probably the largest trade show in the state, are pretty concerned and have issued a statement saying, “Dozens of customers have contacted the High Point Market Authority to inform us that they have canceled plans to attend the Market in April due to passage of HB2. There are also several campaigns on social media calling for a boycott of the High Point Market this spring.” If the law stays on the books it could be even worse next year, possibly leading to a permanent relocation.
In an effort at damage control, Governor McCrory’s administration released a statement (link) declaring the law to be a matter of “common sense,” but full of so many false assertions that when Raleigh’s WRAL television did a fact-check on that press release, they awarded it the lowest possible rating for accuracy. If anything, the article on WRAL’s website goes out its way to soften the criticism, but it still makes it clear that the administration’s statement is blatantly untrue.
For just one example, it claims that transgendered persons can still use the restrooms corresponding to their sex and sexual appearance simply by changing the sex given on their birth certificate. Changing the sex on one’s birth certificate is possible under limited circumstances for persons born in North Carolina and some other states, but it is not possible for those born in others, including Tennessee, the next state west.
And again, the law affects a much far range of people than the relatively tiny number of transgendered persons. (Most of them, I suspect, will simply ignore the law and continue to use the restroom that corresponds to their physical appearance. In fact, at least one legislator who voted for the law essentially said as much.) Vastly more people will be harmed by the law’s broader restrictions on civil rights.
(Updated 2016 May 8 to clarify that the restroom provisions apply only in state or local government buildings)