LGBT oppression is bad for businessTrans Progressive Thursday, March 31st, 2016
Commentary: Trans Progressive
Recently, I wrote about what hasn’t changed with the messaging that the social conservatives, usually on the religious right, have used in their efforts to deny public accommodation protections for transgender people. But what’s happened in the last few years is we have a multitude of bills and initiatives seeking solutions for public bathroom predation problems that don’t exist. Fortunately, most have failed.
But, one of the things that’s changed is that there’s a nationally organized religious right opposition following the same pattern and practice of using outdated and distorted studies, as well as writing model policies and model legislation used for previous fights against marriage equality and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. We see the same arguments about privacy, and the same arguments of fearmongering that have been used against lesbians and gays, othering them as sexual deviants and predators.
We see the scare messaging in North Carolina, where it took about 12-hours in a special session to repeal every local housing, employment and public accommodation antidiscrimination law in the state that had ever been enacted by local government. On signing the bill, HB 2, into law, Gov. McCrory declared in his signing statement:
“The basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings, a restroom or locker room, for each gender was violated by government overreach and intrusion by the mayor and city council of Charlotte. This radical breach of trust and security under the false argument of equal access not only impacts the citizens of Charlotte but people who come to Charlotte to work, visit or play. This new government regulation defies common sense and basic community norms by allowing, for example, a man to use a woman’s bathroom, shower or locker room.
“While local municipalities have important priorities working to oversee police, fire, water and sewer, zoning, roads and transit, the mayor and city council took action far out of its core responsibilities. As a result, I have signed legislation passed by a bipartisan majority to stop this breach of basic privacy and etiquette which was to go into effect April 1. Although other items included in this bill should have waited until regular session, this bill does not change existing rights under state or federal law.”
There seems to be an assumption in the messaging by the governor that there are no such things as transgender men. If it’s lookism that brings concerns of privacy and predation to cisgender women in public bathrooms, then the idea of bearded, short haired men using women’s public restrooms because their birth certificates say female should be more concerning than transgender women.
But, this really isn’t what this bill is about. The bill also removes the ability of local governments to have antidiscrimination protections for housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation, gender identity – and nonsensically there was one locality that had antidiscrimination protections for veteran status voided. It also removes the ability of local governments to locally raise minimum raises based on local cost of living.
HB 2 was always an excuse for oppressing LGBT community members, as well as socioeconomic minorities.
Republicans talk about being the party of smaller government and being business friendly, yet this is the action of big government and behavior that’s causing businesses to say they’re considering taking business out of the state, and tourists and governments of other states boycotting travel to the state. Businesses are libertarian at heart; they want business friendly laws and a socially liberal environment. Businesses want to attract top talent, and top talent is diverse – often LGB and/or T. Discriminatory laws in states businesses operate in means these businesses can’t attract talented people to work for them in those states.
Just from a business perspective, North Carolina Republicans have made a tactical error. Oppression of minorities is bad for business; this is the part that’s not so “common sense.”
The bathroom scare part of the opposition messaging that they’ve sold to the easily manipulated … well, it’s incredibly disingenuous.
The consequences will be high if HB 2 stays on the books. We should expect a repeal of the most heinous parts of the law, and perhaps even changes in how many Republicans stay in office, due to this overreach.
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