On March 23rd, 2016 the General Assembly of North Carolina passed a bill entitled; “An Act to Provide for Single-sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom and Changing Facilities in Schools and Public Agencies and to Create Statewide Consistency in Regulation of Employment and Public Accommodations”. Otherwise known as the “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act” or more simply as House Bill 2, this piece of legislation has become widely recognized as one of the most anti-LGBT pieces of legislation to have been enacted into law in the United States. However, in addition to the outright discriminatory practices the bill enshrines into law, the bill is also notable as it seems to represent a change in the tactics used in Southern states, by those who remain steadfastly opposed to equal rights for members of the LGBT community.
House Bill 2 (henceforth HB2) was passed as a direct response, in reaction to legislation that was passed the month before in Charlotte, North Carolina; which was designed specifically to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination in public places, as well as allow members of the transgender community to use the restroom they identified with. However, the HB2 reaction went much further than simply prohibiting the passage or enforcement of the legislation anti-discrimination legislation in Charlotte. Instead Republican law makers, growing tired of their citizens attempting to seek equal treatment for the LGBT community under the law, effectively made it against the law for local towns and communities to pass any anti-discrimination legislation, that might conflict with the implicitly defined status of non-protection offered to the LGBT community in HB2.
Here we have a splendid example of the party of so called “limited government” using state power, to deliberately override the democratically enacted passage of non-discrimination laws at the city and county level. Unfortunately that’s not all they did. In addition to limiting restrooms to use only by members of the biologically assigned sex on a persons birth certificate, and prohibiting cities from passing non-discrimination legislation, the flag pin loving folks in the Republican party in North Carolina, also included in HB2 language explicitly prohibiting cities or counties from increasing their minimum wage. It seems the authors of the bill felt it wouldn’t be Republican enough, if it only screwed over the LGBT community; so the members of the North Carolina General Assembly made sure they also screwed over the working poor in the process.
The lines responsible for these two shining examples of “small government” Republican hypocrisy can be found on page 3 in subsections (b) and (c) Section 2.1 of HB2 which read as follows;
“(b) The public policy of this State is declared as follows: The wage levels of employees, hours of labor, payment of earned wages, and the well being of minors are subjects of concern requiring legislation to promote the general welfare of the people of the State without jeopardizing the competitive position of North Carolina business and industry. The General Assembly declares that the general welfare of the State requires the enactment of this law under the police power of the State.
(c) The provisions of this Article supersede any preempt any ordinance, regulation, resolution, or policy adopted or imposed by a unit of local government or other political subdivision of the State that regulates or imposes any requirement upon an employer pertaining to compensation of wages, benefits, leave, or well-being of minors in the workforce. This subsection shall not apply to any of the following:” (1)
In case you’re wondering, what follows after “the following” in subsection (c), the very next line exempts local law makers from any of the wage restrictions imposed on the poor, they will still be able to give themselves raises. You know, when the time comes to reward themselves with a nice little financial pat on the back; for doing the cowardly work of prohibiting local level democracy, while codifying discrimination and poverty into law.
The most extraordinary fact surrounding HB2 is not just what it was designed to do, but the manner in which was passed. Traditionally social conservatives have attempted to use bills ostensibly designed to protect “religious freedom”, when they wanted to resort to attempting to pass legislation designed to ensure continued discrimination again members of the LGBT community. However North Carolina’s HB2 takes a much different, and significantly broader approach. Rather that than attempting to allow continued discrimination on the basis of protecting the “religious expression” of bigots; HB2 buries its true intentions behind a title that sounds as if were a masterpiece of stereotypical dull sounding government minutia.
Naturally, those responsible for the passage of HB2 claim that it was designed to protect children. Protecting children always manifests itself in odd and peculiar ways when it comes from Republicans, as it seems they’ve become a party that is exclusively dedicated to protecting children from non-threats. In some cases they want to prevent poor children from being able to get free school lunches, which could be seen as Republicans wanting to protect children from nutrition. In Detroit, they had little interest in protecting the cities children from lead poising, and instead decided wanted to protect the children from the horrors of excess government spending; so they switched the cities water supply to the Flint river and allowed a town of 100,000 to be poisoned by lead to save the city roughly a hundred dollars a day. So when the party of flag pins, and personal responsibility starts talking seriously about wanting to protect children again, this time in public bathrooms; its worth remembering that its ranks have contained more sex offenders, than those HB2 is designed to “protect” them from in North Carolina.
1) “General Assembly of North Carolina Second Extra Session 2016.” North Carolina General Assembly. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2016.