Target: Edgar V. Starnes and Harry Brown, North Carolina state legislature Majority Leaders
Goal: Leave local non-discrimination ordinances in North Carolina intact.
Charlotte, North Carolina, passed a sweeping local non-discrimination ordinance that is set to take effect on April 1st. According to the Charlotte Observer, the ordinance would prevent businesses, public accommodations, and transportation services from discriminating against LGBT people.
Rather than celebrating, or even respecting, Charlotte’s decision, the North Carolina legislature is making an extraordinary effort to prevent progress in the state. Having been defeated once in an attempt to preclude Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance, the republican-controlled legislature convened a special session just to drive equality out of their state.
Much of the opposition to Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance and other local measures has centered on spurious claims that transgender women pose a special threat to other women and girls in restrooms. The reactionary measure proposed by the North Carolina legislature includes special provisions against transgender people.
Buzzfeed reports that the legislation “mandate[s] that single-sex public restrooms and locker rooms in publicly run facilities be restricted to people of the same corresponding birth sex” and explicitly “ban transgender students from school restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.” The narrative to which such measures pertain is simply false. According to Media Matters, fears that transgender people access restrooms to violate privacy are “completely unsupported by years of evidence from states that already have non-discrimination laws on the books.” Buzzfeed notes that transgender people, especially women, “have a well documented history of being the targets of hate-motivated assault and homicide.”
While the threats that North Carolina legislators imagine themselves defending against are imaginary, the harm they will inflict on North Carolinians is not. As state Attorney General Roy Cooper said in his YouTube announcement, “Discrimination is wrong. Period. … the legislature is taking unprecedented action that will threaten our economy.” Tell North Carolina’s republican majority leaders to allow non-discrimination ordinances to stand in their state.
Dear Majority Leaders Edgar V. Starnes and Harry Brown,
Charlotte and other important cities in North Carolina have take an important step toward equality by adopting ordinances that protect LGBT North Carolinians from discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodation. The state legislature, controlled by your party, has repeatedly sought to impede that positive local action. We ask that you urge your fellow legislators to stop their reactionary obstructionism and allow North Carolina to join the rest of America. We ask that you allow local non-discrimination ordinances to stand.
As your Attorney General Roy Cooper put it: “Discrimination is wrong. Period.” Discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation is no less objectionable than that on the basis of race or religion. Rather than recognizing that, as the great metropolitan centers of North Carolina do, your colleagues in the legislature invoke the fiction that transgender people access restrooms to violate privacy in order to sow dissension and fear in the state and to ensure that LGBT North Carolinians remain vulnerable to discrimination.
Not only is the reactionary course charted by the legislature you control morally indefensible, it jeopardizes the prosperity of North Carolina. The major industrial interest Dow Chemical expressed it’s disapproval of North Carolina’s discriminatory legislation on Twitter, urging you and your colleagues to “focus on policies that make #NC stronger and more competitive.”
Moreover, the language of the proposed legislation that specifically targets transgender people, refusing to recognize their gender identities and making it illegal for multiple occupancy bathrooms to accommodate them, is at odds with the current interpretation of Title IX. That conflict jeopardizes federal funding for North Carolina’s schools and could make the state vulnerable to legal action.
Protect LGBT North Carolinians. Protect the welfare of your state. Allow local non-discrimination ordinances to stand.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Fry1989