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North Carolina’s shocking anti-LGBT law is making us all look like fools

As a resident of North Carolina, I am ashamed at the way we’re making news this week. Wednesday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory reversed legislation created by the Charlotte City Council to provide new legal protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people. The ordinance would have gone into effect on April 1, but instead of celebrating Charlotte’s protection of equality, Gov. McCrory has ensured more progressive states will spend this April Fool’s Day mocking North Carolina.

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The ordinance meant businesses in North Carolina’s largest city couldn’t discriminate against gay, lesbian or transgender customers, in addition to long-standing protections based on race, age, religion and gender. It would also have applied to places of public accommodation, such as bars, restaurants and stores. It also applied to taxis. Likewise, it would have allowed transgender residents to use either a men’s or women’s bathroom, depending on the gender with which they identify.

My husband and I live in a suburb of Charlotte, a city with a gorgeous skyline just minutes from the South Carolina state line. We have three children, including a son with Down syndrome. We value equality, inclusion and acceptance. As a daughter of a police officer, I value safety and privacy.

I am no expert on LGBT issues, but as a parent and a mother of a child with disabilities, I consider myself an expert on humanity.

McCrory’s decision to ban Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance is a menacing storm cloud across our Carolina blue sky that spits in humanity’s face. In essence, the governor chose to protect the comfort of the uninformed masses over the safety of a smaller portion of the population.

In a statement, McCrory said Charlotte’s ordinance “defies common sense and basic community norms by allowing, for example, a man to use a woman’s bathroom, shower or locker room … I have signed legislation … to stop this breach of basic privacy and etiquette.” He continued, “It is now time for the city of Charlotte elected officials and state elected officials to get back to working on the issues most important to our citizens.”

His idea of “basic etiquette” is discrimination at best and hate at worst.That “basic etiquette” has for centuries embodied a fear of anyone not white and male. Society has oppressed women. Minorities. Gays and lesbians. Those with disabilities. Will you be a member of the next group to be discriminated against?

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Issues most important to our citizens should include equality, safety and compassion, and I’m proud of the Charlotte City Council efforts. I’m embarrassed for our state, as this law will allow for further discrimination, not just in Charlotte but in every city and town.

This news plunges us securely back into those days of bathrooms segregated by race, of schools refusing to open their doors to varying shades of skin color and to hospital rooms where children born with disabilities were spirited out a back door, amid hushed voices, to be locked away where society could not see them and therefore not feel threatened by them.

As a cisgender female with three children, including one with disabilities, I fear harm or worse will come to LGBT people in light of this news. I am furious my state has so coldly turned its back on that possibility, which is so much greater than any of the nonsensical fears opponents of the ordinance tossed out in ignorance.

Sharing a restroom with a person who has gone through hell to live an authentic, innocent life is an incredible opportunity to demonstrate inclusion, acceptance and love for humans living life to the best of their ability — and seeking to relieve themselves in safety.

Make no mistake: Opening a door for a trangender person is in absolutely no way opening a door for a sex offender. Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance sought to provide a safe haven for someone who faces unjust and uneducated persecution. McCrory’s signature provides safe haven for ignorance and hate.

#WeAreNotThis has been trending all day. I so desperately want to believe the hearts of North Carolinians are not this cold and their minds are not this closed.

I’ve found solace in seeing other North Carolinians post on social media their dismay at the turn of events. I’m horrified that I could have done more to prevent this discrimination.

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Feeling scared does not justify discrimination. Failure to educate oneself does not justify discrimination. Please, choose to be on the side of history that recognizes equality and the reality that

neither a penis nor a vagina defines a person — just as how a person identifies does not mean they want to assault someone or invade another’s privacy.

McCrory has told the people of North Carolina it is OK to act out in fear and ignorance. He told us that discomfort born of fear and ignorance trumps the comfort and safety of an individual who has pushed fear and ignorance aside to live authentically.

McCrory has shown us he readily accepts the notion that someone born with a reproductive system of one gender but who identifies with the opposite gender is also a criminal who will parlay open-minded laws into vehicles for invasion of privacy and sexual assault.


North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore defended the bill to CNN: “One of the biggest issues was about privacy,” he said. “The way the ordinance was written by City Council in Charlotte, it would have allowed a man to go into a bathroom, locker or any changing facility where women are  — even if he was a man. We were concerned. Obviously there is the security risk of a sexual predator, but there is the issue of privacy.”
Where on earth are these restrooms and locker rooms that are so secure, a person with harmful intentions cannot enter them today? McCrory’s signature doesn’t make anyone safer or less safe than they already are. What his signature says is that it’s perfectly acceptable for North Carolinians to believe transgender people don’t deserve the same rights as cisgender people, and it’s OK to trample on rights we refuse to recognize anyway.

I fear this is a tipping point in the South’s regression of civil rights. Gov. McCrory now has empowered those who fear all Muslims, all people with disabilities, all Jews, all women, all blacks to openly discriminate against them. Maybe it’s not necessarily fear. Maybe it’s just a classic case of less-than-ism.” Do you believe a black person is less than you? Do you believe a Muslim’s beliefs are “less than yours?

To the men and women of North Carolina who cried out in defense of their children’s safety, I urge you to redirect your anger at legislation that would actually protect us from sex offenders and to seek data that will show sex offenders are predominantly white cisgender men.

Because a white man seeking to sexually assault another man, woman or child is not waiting for legislation that lets them into a female restroom. A sexual offender doesn’t need suggestions or opportunities: He or she is surrounded by them. The privacy argument is nonsense because it assumes a biological man who identifies as a man does no wrong, and a biological woman who identifies as a woman does no wrong.

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Every person is capable of making bad choices for bad reasons. Discriminating against any group doesn’t negate that fact.

I desperately want to be able to tell my children we are kinder than this. We are smarter than this. We are more worldly than this.

Aren’t we?

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Image: Kirt Edblom/Flickr

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