North Carolina’s bathroom bill “repeal” might bring sports and jobs back to the state, but it doesn’t do anything to protect LGBTQ rights.
North Carolina legislators officially voted to repeal their HB2 law, the law that forced individuals to use public restrooms based on their gender at birth.
However, the “repeal” is really a sheep in wolf’s clothing. While the repeal makes North Carolina look like it’s taking a strong stance against discrimination, it really does nothing to prevent it.
First, the repeal doesn’t take the law off the books — It’s been replaced with HB142. This raises the question: why would the North Carolina government pass a law which, in essence, changes nothing? The reason lies in those red numbers they see in their budget.
After HB2 passed, a number of businesses pulled out of the state, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which removed NCAA tournament basketball games. Businesses moving from the state, costing North Carolina jobs. According to Politifact, the bill cost the state between $450 and 630 million. And we know that PayPal’s departure meant a loss of 400 jobs, with Deutsche Bank accounting for another 250.
But all of that was not enough for the officials in the state to provide the LGBTQ community with basic human rights and deliver an actual repeal. The new bill has, understandably, been met with logical discontent. The North Carolina NAACP, Freedom Center for Social Justice, ACLU, Human Rights Campaign and the National Center for Transgender Equality provided a joint statement recently regarding the new bill.
“We call on the NCAA to oppose this shameful HB2.0 bill in North Carolina and not to reward lawmakers who have passed this so-called “deal,” which is an affront to the values we all hold. This bill is anti-worker, anti-access to the courts and anti-LGBTQ. It violates all basic principles of diversity, inclusion and basic civil rights. Fundamentally, any moratorium on civil rights is not a compromise, it is a contradiction with the principle of equal protection under the law and our moral values.”
Even with all of that, the NCAA announced that post-season college basketball would return to the state. In its press release announcing the decision, the NCAA acknowledged that the bill was faulty:
“The elected officials of North Carolina enacted compromise legislation that repealed HB2 and replaced it with a new law, HB142, that addressed a number of the concerns that led to the relocation of the NCAA championships. As with most compromises, this new law is far from perfect.”
No one is forcing the NCAA to bring post-season basketball back to North Carolina. Why do they need to accept the compromise when the communities they originally stood up for received no such concession?
This law also speaks to a larger issue, which is that the federal government has issued no protections for these citizens. The LGBT community is not among the classes of federally protected people. Despite seemingly endless pieces of legislation calling for their protection, Congress has not passed a single one. All in all, 31 states (including North Carolina) offer no protections to public and private employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. That could change if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds a recent appeals court ruling on the matter.
The fact that the LGBTQ community needs to rely on the federal government for protection and basic rights is sad on so many levels. Why is the federal government needed in order for people to do what is right?
I doubt the LGBTQ community finds solace in the new North Carolina bill or the return of college basketball. While it impacts LGBTQ lives the most, the loss that comes from treating people as second-class citizens is everyone’s to bear.