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The first three public steps in North Carolina

Commentary: Trans Progressive

nc-flag1I’m writing this piece knowing that by the time it’s published the situation may have changed; the deadline and the publishing time leaves a window for events to move forward. But even knowing this, I feel a need to comment on the fast moving events in North Carolina regarding HB2 – the so-called “Bathroom Bill.”

Things are moving fast in North Carolina.

But let’s step back a moment; we often lose sight of what public accommodation antidiscrimination protections are about. Public accommodation antidiscrimination protections are about being able to buy a cheeseburger and a soda at a diner, or have a prescription filled at the corner drugstore, without being turned away because one appears to belong to a distinction of people the proprietor has biases against; or being able to attend public schools without discrimination or harassment.

When socially conservative Christians talk about serving not just transgender people, but lesbian, gay and bisexual people as well, it isn’t framed in terms of public accommodations, but in terms of religious liberty. Organizations, such as the Family Research Council, Alliance Defending Freedom and the American Family Association frame business transactions in terms that a proprietor should not have to violate what the proprietor believes the tenants of their faith are, and should not have to cater to members of the LGBT community that they believe lead a sinful “lifestyle.”

When it comes to public accommodations in the public square, we’ve seen socially conservative Christians try to interject faith into how identification and marriage documents are processed.

Yet through this all, when public accommodations are discussed publicly with regards to transgender people, it seems to only be discussed in terms of which bathrooms transgender people use.

So somewhere it should be noted in the context of what happened in North Carolina as the first three public steps in this December week.

• In a surprise move, the Charlotte City Council, led by Democratic Mayor Jennifer Roberts, voted 10-0 Monday, Dec. 19 to repeal a significant portion of the ordinance that North Carolina’s legislature and governor said prompted HB 2.

• After the vote, a number of North Carolina local publications reported that Governor-elect Roy Cooper had brokered a deal between the Charlotte City Council and North Carolina’s legislature. If the Charlotte City Council repealed the public accommodations protections for LGBT community members, then HB 2 would be repealed in its entirety.

• On Wednesday, in a 7-2 vote, the Charlotte City Council “retooled” (in the language of the Charlotte Observer) and repealed the entire ordinance to appease Republicans who thought they hadn’t repealed enough to justify repealing HB2.

What’s happening in North Carolina is about cheeseburgers, sodas, prescriptions and government documents as much or more than about bathrooms.

Well, it’s not enough to know what we’re against. We actually have to know what we’re for, and then be willing to work, sacrifice and suffer to achieve it.

I believe I can say we in the LGBT activism community are against actively selecting groups out for discrimination, and passing laws to discriminate against them. But what we’re for matters too. What we’re for in the LGBT activism community is basic civil rights protections. These include antidiscrimination protections for employment, housing and public accommodation based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In the present tense, the North Carolina LGBT community is having to give up hope for years to come for ordinary equality in just one city to just perhaps see a blatantly discriminatory law they’re against be repealed.

No one, but no one, should spin this repeal of HB 2, if it should actually occur, as a victory. Without antidiscrimination protections, oppressors will still be allowed to oppress.



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Posted by on Dec 22, 2016. Filed under Trans Progressive. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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