North Carolina turns back on American principles
North Carolina is home to the oldest state university in the United States. It is where the Wright Brothers first took to the skies, and it currently acts as a battleground for LGBTQ rights. Pat McCrory, the governor of North Carolina, signed a sweeping law eliminating antidiscrimination protections for all lesbians, gays and bisexuals. The new law bars them from using bathrooms that do not match the gender they were born with. During a session on March 23, North Carolina legislators passed the wide-ranging law with unanimous support from the Republican legislators, while the Democrats walked out in protest. The law was put together so quickly that many lawmakers did not see it prior to its introduction on Wednesday morning. This law also prevents municipalities from creating their own antidiscrimination policies and prohibits local governments from raising minimum wage levels above the state level. North Carolina is going against the trend of the nation; similar laws in South Dakota and Tennessee failed to pass. The law has garnered criticisms from civil rights groups, businesses and politicians.
McCrory is up for re-election this year and his Democratic rival and attorney general, Roy Cooper, wasted no time criticizing the move. On Twitter, he posted a video voicing his anger under the hashtag #WeAreNotThis. Cooper has also stated that he would not defend this law in court. Governors of New York, Vermont and Washington issued travel bans to North Carolina. McCrory’s actions may not only harm him but also the state he claims this law is protecting.
The backlash from the business community was just as strong. The chairman of the only remaining manufacturing companies in North Carolina called the law “outrageous,’ “un-American” and “shortsighted.” Apple joined Facebook, Bank of America and 77 other companies objecting to the law. The law could also lead to an economic fallout in the state.
PayPal had plans to invest $3.6 million in a new facility and hire 400 employees, but the deal was called off by the its CEO. The National Collegiate Athletic Association is reconsidering hosting tournaments in North Carolina in 2017 and 2018. Additionally, the Obama Administration is considering cutting off billions of dollars in federal aid in response to the law.
The governor’s actions are completely out of line and embarrassing. This law does not protect anyone’s religious freedom as intended. Instead, it attacks people for being who they are. It spits in the face of basic American principles of justice, fairness and equality. Supporters of the law are using outdated and ill-informed religious teachings to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. This law deprives local cities from making their own antidiscrimination laws. This is an example of government overstepping its authority and goes against conservative ideals. This law is utterly authoritarian.
The most likely resolution to this whole mess is through federal courts. Unfortunately, this method is very costly. The state will be wasting large amounts of money, which could be put to better use.
The fight for equal rights for trans people is the next social battle of this generation and the opening salvos are being shot off not only in North Carolina, but in South Dakota, Tennessee and Mississippi. These are not simply battles for rights and justice, this is a battle for acceptance.