Discriminatory North Carolina Law 'Cruel and Insulting': LGBT Groups

Governor Pat McCrory
Governor Pat McCrory

LGBT organizations and other progressive groups are denouncing a law passed in North Carolina Wednesday that struck down all LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances across the state, calling it "devastating," "appalling," and "cruel and insulting."

Using the hashtag #WeAreNotThis, they are expressing outrage at North Carolina legislators, who introduced and passed the bill through both houses in a single day, and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who swiftly signed it into law. Some residents said they felt ashamed to be from North Carolina and others said they hoped that despite the law, North Carolinians would remain principled and choose to be fair to all. 

The legislation not only takes aim at every local antidiscrimination ordinance ever passed, it also requires "single-sex multiple occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities in public schools and public agencies," calling transgender rights into question. In addition, it eliminates all ordinances regulating wages. Its passage came in a special session called in order to deal with Charlotte's trans-inclusive public accommodations ordinance. In North Carolina, the state legislature has the power to override city ordinances.

On Facebook, the North Carolina Democratic Party expressed embarrassment. "The misplaced priorities of the Republican-led General Assembly continue to shine a negative light on our state!" the party wrote. The party is now promoting a petition against the law. 

“This bill essentially repeals 50 years of non-discrimination efforts and gives lawmakers in Raleigh unprecedented control over our city and local governments,” Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue said in a statement. “North Carolina Republicans want to pass what would potentially be the single most discriminatory act in the country. This is a direct affront to equality, civil rights, and local autonomy.”

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina and Equality North Carolina issued a joint statement explaining that they are currently exploring legal avenues to pursue. 

Chris Brook, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina, called the law "devastating," particularly for transgender people, "who have been subjected to months of distorted rhetoric culminating in today’s display of bias and ignorance by North Carolina lawmakers." "We are disappointed that Governor McCrory did not do right by North Carolina’s families, communities, and businesses by vetoing this horribly discriminatory bill, but this will not be the last word,” said Brook. 

Tara Borelli, senior attorney with Lambda Legal, said the bill wouldn't solve any problems. "The law would create new ones and could lead to intolerable and unfair conditions for transgender students who are entitled, by federal law, to a safe and equitable education," said Borelli.

Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, called the bill "an undisguised attack on LGBT people and the efforts of one city to protect gay and transgender North Carolinians against discrimination.” In addition to being “cruel and insulting,” Sgro said, the law is “about more than bathroom access, it’s about fairness in employment, education, and local governance. It aims to override local school board policies, local public accommodations laws, and more.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said McCrory's "reckless design to sign this appalling legislation into law is a direct attack on the  rights, well-being, and dignity of hundreds of thousands of LGBT North Carolinians and visitors to the state." He went on to say that McCrory's action "will be judged sorely by history and serve as a source of deep shame, remorse, and regret."

Added National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce cofounder and president Justin Nelson: “It's morally unacceptable that hardworking, tax-paying LGBT North Carolinians can continue to be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, or denied service in restaurants and shops simply for being who they are — now with the full support of their elected representatives.” 

And Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, sent a message of solidarity: "The North Carolina state motto is 'To be, rather than to seem.' I urge all LGBTQ North Carolinian to be themselves, to be fully out and proud, 'be you' regardless of this ridiculous and spiteful law. Know that all LGBTQ people and our allies across the nation are with you. Know that freedom, justice and equality in your state has only been delayed but it will not be denied."