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New anti-LGBTQ Law Enacted in North Carolina

Sam Mitchell, Contributing Editor

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On March 23rd, 2016, the North Carolina legislature passed House Bill 2, a law that radically changes North Carolina law regarding state protection for the rights of minorities. Specifically, the law was billed as strongly anti-LGBT, and it prevents transgender individuals from using bathrooms according to their gender identity. Purportedly to protect unsuspecting women from sexual harassment, this law strips civil rights away from a group of people who are systematically being marginalized and oppressed by their government.

The specific effect of the new North Carolina law was to overturn local anti-discrimination ordinances. The controversy began when local officials in Charlotte, North Carolina’s biggest city, approved an ordinance that prohibited businesses from discriminating against LGBT community members. The aspect of this issue which received the most attention was bathroom use by transgender people.

The ordinance, which passed in a 7-4 city council vote back in February, was attacked by the opposition as allowing men to use women’s restroom. The primary argument against the anti-discrimination rule was that it would put unsuspecting women in danger. This was predicated on the false assumption that transgender women who had not undergone gender reassignment would be likely to commit rape in the restroom.

In reality, there is no evidence to support this position, which is used primarily to tap into fear of change in the traditional North Carolina communities. The real effect of the new law, which was hastily signed by Gov. Pat McCrory less than a week after it was passed, is to take civil rights away from LGBT people. The law forces people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate, regardless of their personal identification. The only way to change one’s birth certificate sex in North Carolina is to undergo demeaning psychological assessment and costly gender-reassignment surgery, something that is out of reach for many citizens.

Over 80 CEOs and business leaders signed a letter to the North Carolina governor, imploring him to change the new law: “We believe that HB 2 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the nation. It will also diminish the state’s draw as a destination for tourism, new businesses, and economic activity.” North Carolina’s attorney general also spoke out, saying of the new law “we’re talking about discrimination here”. He has made it clear that he would also refuse to defend the law in court, should it be challenged by a civil rights group like the ACLU.

The actions of the North Carolina legislature and governor are an abhorrent affront to the history of liberty and freedom and the legacy of civil rights that are cherished in this country. It reflects poorly on the state of North Carolina and this country as a whole when a minority group is singled out for demeaning and discriminatory treatment. People who would wish to marginalize the oppressed and downtrodden citizens of our country have forgotten what it truly means to be an American.

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New anti-LGBTQ Law Enacted in North Carolina