While progressive activists, major businesses, Democratic presidential candidates, and The New York Times have denounced North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law, there’s one segment of the population that’s very pleased with it — the religious right.
Tony Perkins, the Benham brothers, and Franklin Graham are among those praising state legislators and Gov. Pat McCrory for the law, which strikes down LGBT-inclusive municipal antidiscrimination ordinances and prohibits cities from adopting any new ones. Passed in a special session Wednesday, it took aim specifically at Charlotte’s amendments to its public accommodations ordinance, which among other things would have established transgender people’s right to use the public restrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-segregated facilities that match their gender identity. The amended Charlotte measure is now null and void.
Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, issued a press release claiming that Charlotte sought to “establish special rights for people who identify as transgender.” He lauded McGrory and other North Carolina officials “for their courage in the face of fierce opposition” and thanked them for providing “protections for the privacy of children and women using school and public bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms.”
Perkins’s statement and other far-right reactions ignore the fact that studies show ordinances such as the one Charlotte tried to enact do not enable predatory behavior and that indeed, transgender people face dangers if they are forced to use facilities that do not comport with their identity. The FRC, by the way, is designated by the progressive Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-LGBT hate group because of the damaging misinformation it spreads about LGBT people.
David and Jason Benham, twin brothers who are North Carolina–based real estate entrepreneurs as well as Christian right activists, had been among the leading opponents of the Charlotte ordinance, Right Wing Watch reports. They testified against it at City Council hearings before it passed, and when it did, the posted a video to Facebook saying they would now identify as women so they could play in the WNBA, and decrying the ordinance as endangering women and children. They were the top attraction at a protest calling for it to be overturned by the state legislature. After the legislature and governor acted, they tweeted their approval:
— BenhamBrothers (@BenhamBrothers) March 24, 2016
Further praise from within the state came from Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (founded by his father), which is headquartered in North Carolina. He had called on Charlotte not to adopt the inclusive ordinance, something he termed “wicked” and “filthy.” Friday, he posted a Facebook message saying the legislature and governor “did the right thing” in striking down the ordinance, which he described as “ridiculous — and dangerous.”
“I’m glad North Carolina has a governor who will stand up for what is right and protect our children,” he continued, adding, “Government should not mandate men being able to use a women’s public restroom based on their felt ‘gender identity’ of the day.”