Hell Hath No Fury Like House Bill 2
The details of North Carolina’s latest screw up and what it could mean for other states
It seems like just yesterday I posted my thoughts on the failure of the public education system in North Carolina, because oh wait that was just yesterday! In less than 24 hours the state of North Carolina has managed to screw up yet again by passing House Bill 2, a bill that will allow the discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community in the Tarheel State.
Part 1: Public Bathrooms
The gist of this section of the bill is that no one may enter a “multiple occupancy” bathroom, changing room, or locker oom in a school or public facility that is not marked with their birth sex. Here multiple occupancy is being defined as: to be used by more than one person in various states of undress. This section would prohibit members of the trans community from entering multiple occupancy bathrooms for the gender for which they identify. Exceptions to this law include only custodial or maintenance staff and caregivers for individuals in need of assistance.
This section does allow for people to make “requests for special accommodation” in order to use single occupancy bathrooms of a gender other than their birth sex. This would mean that a trans student or person could request to use a single bathroom with their gender of identification, but it does not require the school administrators or business owners to grant that request.
Part 2: Employment and Contracting
This selection will prevent local governments and town councils from making laws relating to “ The wage levels of employees, hours of labor, payment of earned wages, and the well-being of minors.” This will take away the ability of city and county governments to set higher minimum wages for employees, set higher leave time laws, or set stricter regulations for minors in the workforce. The opposite is, of course, true as well.
The law of the state government is to be the law of the land in North Carolina as the new law will supersede any current or future ordinance on the books about these issues.
Part 4: Employment and Public Accommodation
This section provides for the protection of North Carolina employees from discrimination based on “ of race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex or handicap by employers which regularly employ 15 or more employees.” That is the language directly from the bill, and there should be two main take aways.
- Discrimination against trans people appears to be totally okay. You may discriminate against someone for a gender other than that which they were born.
- These protections only apply to employees of companies that employ more than 15 employees regularly. This appears to open the door for very small and family owned businesses to discriminate to their heart’s content.
The rest of this section goes on to basically restate what was stated in section one, and also to again say that any local ordinances on this subject are overridden by this state law.
You can read the full bill here.
Smoke in Mirrors
Now you may be asking, how the heck did this bill get passed in the first place? Which is a totally valid question and I applaud you for asking it. There were two main strategies used to sneak this one by the public.
- This bill was passed during an extra or “emergency” session of the state legislature. This session was not originally on the congressional calendar and thus media outlets and the general public would not have known to be paying attention for it unless they were especially attuned to state politics.
- House Bill 2 was passed on the same day as the state announced its new speeding enforcement crackdown. The new program called “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine” (because we’re clever like that) is a Department of Transportation initiative that is intended to reduce accidents and fatalities from speed related incidents. The catch is that going even one mile an hour above the posted speed limit is liable to get you fined. This is a huge shock to people from a state where “nine you’re fine, ten you’re mine,” was an unofficial law enforcement slogan for years. Heck my own mother was told that the last time she got pulled over!
So while the people of North Carolina were, understandably, a little spooked about this new speeding crackdown, and were pretty unaware of a congressional session, the state managed to actually get something done for once. However the fruits of their labor is highly discriminatory and was done in relative secrecy behind the people’s backs, this is not the way government should work!
The Hypocrisy of it All
What makes this bill even more of slap to the face for North Carolinians is the fact that on more than one occasion our “fearless leader” Governor Pat McCrory has criticized the President for overstepping his power by issuing executive orders. What the heck does he think this is?! He is effectively taking away the rights of individual cities and counties to protect their workers and trans communities. As one Facebook observer put it “ I’m not afraid my kids or I will be assaulted in the bathroom. I’m more worried about the way I’m being assaulted by the government.”
This abomination of justice comes from a state that proudly touts its history from the Civil Rights Movement. While we are taught about the names and actions of the Greensboro Sit In members, clearly we have failed to internalize their message. Democracy for all! Protection for all! Equality for all!
Could Your State Be Next?
There are only 13 states in this country with specific laws in place to protect transgender individuals from discrimination. Kentucky recently made headlines when their legislation introduced similar bills.
Don’t let this happen in your state. Know the laws, be aware of congressional sessions, and do not be silent! It is your duty as an active citizen to be involved in your state legislature.
What’s Next for North Carolina
Elections. That’s what’s next. In Novemeber our esteemed governor goes up for reelection as does the legislature. Do yourselves and your community a favor and vote them out! This tyranny and backwardness has got to come to an end. We can only hope that no more shams like this will happen before those November elections, but hey it’s still North Carolina so all bets are off.