Stoking Culture War in North Carolina

The GOP-dominated state legislature in North Carolina failed to repeal the “bathroom bill”—HB2—which requires use of public restrooms and locker rooms based on biological sex rather than gender identity, even though the Charlotte City Council, reportedly as part of a deal, voted to repeal part of its anti-discrimination ordinance prohibiting discrimination in the use of restroom/locker room facilities on the basis of gender identity.

Passage of the Charlotte ordinance triggered state Republicans to pass HB2, leading to a national outcry by LGBT advocates and their corporate allies, who announced various boycotts.

Many GOP legislators were pushed hard by religious right activists to maintain HB2 without revision. On the other hand, some supported a compromise that would have repealed the state law but also put in place what the Washington Post described as “a six-month moratorium on cities passing nondiscrimination ordinances to protect gay and transgender people.” The Washington Times described it as “an amendment that would have prohibited local municipalities from permitting opposite-sex restroom access until a long-term, statewide compromise could be reached—an add-on that helped kill the repeal bill.”

Democratic legislators, following pressure from activists, rejected that compromise, even though their votes, with enough willing Republicans, would have been able to put across a repeal measure containing the amendment.

“It’s clear today that the GOP leadership’s cruelty towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and particularly transgender North Carolinians knows no bounds,” an overheated Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “For our part, we will continue to fight to defeat all of HB2 and protect North Carolinians no matter what it takes.” In other words, no compromise.

There was distrust all round:

North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger, a Republican, said the unwillingness to accept the amendment on the part of Senate Democrats is evidence that Charlotte would have reneged on the compromise and reintroduced its ordinance after the repeal.

A six-month cooling off period doesn’t seem so unreasonable. But as I’ve said before (because it’s true), a great many LGBT-rights activists and social conservative activists have an interest in not settling culture war issues, thereby maintaining the enraged polarization that is so good for partisan political mobilization and fundraising.

15 Comments for “Stoking Culture War in North Carolina”

  1. posted by Lori Heine on

    “…[A] great many LGBT-rights activists and social conservative activists have an interest in not settling culture war issues, thereby maintaining the enraged polarization that is so good for partisan political mobilization and fundraising.”

    That is absolutely true. This kerfuffle is yet another puppet-show for children. But the kiddies will eat it up.

    I keep telling my libertarian and conservative friends that big-government social conservatives are really no different from leftists. Both types are cut from the same cloth. Nobody else in the country can stand either one of them. And the rest of us are beginning to distance ourselves.

    But the drama will go on. It’s like the Kardashians–only about a hundred times dumber.

    Reply
    • posted by TJ on

      Sadly, the polarization and crudeness of American politics (Which our president-elect barebacked all the way to Penn Avenue) ain’t the best to solve complex issues like reasoned, compassionate adults.

      The “bathroom” bills have come to scare “middle America”, rather then protect anyone from predators or prepping Toms.

      We have people – with advanced medical training – who have worked with transgender people through the transition process.

      Its not like a smart and compassionate conversation can’t happen… I just don’t see much interest in doing do, when scaring people is more profitable.

      Reply
    • posted by TJ on

      So….a two week, waiting period for a gun is bad……but telling transsexuals to hold off going pee for six months is ok.
      Hmm….

      I better compromise would have had statewide civil rights protections , sans public accommodation…and an agreement to actually hold hearings with medical experts and transgender people who are going the transition process (planning good hearings like that could easy take 6months.

      Right now a female-to-male is told to use the ladies WC, but has no protection from even following the law, let alone in trying to find legal work and other niceities like housing…

      Reply
  2. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    When you cut a deal, you stick with the deal. The amendment didn’t. Case closed.

    Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      When you cut a deal, I sabotage the deal. The dealmakers did not consult me. Case dismissed.

      Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      I’d expect no different from you, Jorge.

      Reply
  3. posted by Jorge on

    There was distrust all round

    An understatement. Each side must think the other is lowballing.

    This chaos does not give a good impression of the government in North Carolina. It makes the politicians there appear to be political novices at basic legislating and dealmaking. All of these offers and objections and second guessing would have been better discussed in hearings with testimony with a more open timetable–and while the incoming governor was in office with a legislative team. But then, perhaps Mr. New Governor knows something I don’t and believes the risk of failure to be so high, attempts must be made early.

    Given the way HB2 was rushed in the first place without many of the stakeholders testifying, it is not surprising the state has not learned how to legislate competently. This will continue to create discontent within the state as the people realize their government cannot respond to their concerns in any reasonable timeframe; they will have to be in constant activist mode, ready to go into a frenzy at any moment. Officeholders have to make deals lightning fast if they want to keep ahead of the mob. What I have learned from Mr. Miller’s post today is that this frenzy happened. It has been rewarded. The lightning fast shell game failed. This is not a good thing for the people of the state of North Carolina in the near term, and I do not know that the bigger lesson is going to be learned, either.

    Reply
  4. posted by Jim Michaud on

    This shit show is just a big game of chicken. For starters, there is no enforcement mechanism for this bill. It was admitted as such in court. How will this be enforced? This thing is just one of those “feel good” pieces of legislation that conservatives used to decry. Hate to break it to the soc cons, but thousands of transgendered folk across North Carolina are using the bathroom of their choice and are none worse for the wear. HB2 is being flouted every day. How will they be stopped? (hint: they can’t). But the boycotts will go on and get bigger. NC will lose tons of business and money. And for what? So the tight assed weenies in the legislature can stick a middle finger in the face of trans folk. Well big whoop-de-doo! Will all this grief be worth it? Go ahead soc cons, keep banging your head against a wall.

    Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      I think that was the point. Block the hypothetical sex offenders and be in denial of the unintended consequences. If the feared unintended consequences actually will not happen, so much the better. But there is also a symbolic element at play. And as the Supreme Court sez (in a moment of pure dumb) people’s feelings about how the law impact them are consequential to whether they’re being afforded their constitutional rights.

      I’m still not all that convinced the majority of the legislature and the governor were anything but shockingly indifferent to the well being of transgender people or how many of them might be affected, but the evidence the other way is mounting.

      Reply
  5. posted by TJ on

    I suspect it’s probably already illegal in the state to be a peeping tom or a rapist.

    Reply
  6. posted by Throbert McGee on

    We have people – with advanced medical training – who have worked with transgender people through the transition process.

    Okay, how does this sound as a hypothetical compromise?

    (1) People must use the multi-user gender-specific bathroom consistent with the sex indicated on their driver’s license or other ID;

    (2) A legal change of sex on ID can only be accomplished after 18 months of cross-sex hormones under a doctor’s supervision.

    This compromise would ensure that a man with aggression-inducing testosterone coursing through his bloodstream cannot gain access to the ladies’ room merely by putting on a wig and a dress, but would accommodate non-cis people who have actually gone through medical transitioning and have taken the trouble to have this legally recognized.

    Reply
    • posted by JohnInCA on

      Sounds bad. You’re incentivizing doctors to proscribe treatment based on the views of legislators rather then what is best for the patient.

      And you’re ignoring that many people are limited in their ability to change their documentation (with or without the help of a doctor) based on where they were born.

      Which was precisely the problem the first time around.

      Reply
  7. posted by TJ on

    Again. If you tell a male-to-female transsexual to use the men’s room until after surgery and after the state paperwork is processed, you still have the followinf problems;

    (a) is that male-to-female transsexual really suppose to continue to use the men’s room? Will they be protected from bullying and discrimination if they follow the law?

    (b) Will following such a law harper the rules required to get medical approval for surgery and legal name change? As I understand things, it would.

    Again, I dont see a workable compromise that doesnt actually protect transsexuals from disctimination and harassment and doesnt involve consultation with the relevant doctors, therapists and like.

    Reply
  8. posted by Jorge on

    Okay, how does this sound as a hypothetical compromise?

    (1) People must use the multi-user gender-specific bathroom consistent with the sex indicated on their driver’s license or other ID;

    (2) A legal change of sex on ID can only be accomplished after 18 months of cross-sex hormones under a doctor’s supervision.

    In other words, transgender people who can’t afford or aren’t ready to begin sex-change therapies (isn’t there a multi-month prep period) have to use the bathroom opposite to what they pass as.

    That sounds to me like forcing gays to wear pink triangles.

    Reply
  9. posted by Throbert McGee on

    Okay, then… what should be the threshold for legally changing one’s sex, if not cross-sex hormones? Is consistent cross-dressing enough? And remember, we’re talking about access to gender-segregated multi-user bathrooms, not unisex single-user bathrooms.

    Reply

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