The Governor of North Carolina has pledged to block a city’s new equal rights ordinance.
As there is no federal or state-wide law providing protection from discrimination for LGBT people, the onus is currently on individual cities in many locations to do so.
In North Carolina, Charlotte City Council approved a measure earlier this week that bans businesses from discrimination against gay, lesbian or transgender customers – amending existing rules that protect people based on race, age, religion and gender.
However, right-wing church groups have lobbied intensively on the issue, claiming it allows trans women to go into bathrooms and sexually assault people.
A similar ordinance in the city of Houston, Texas was overturned after a horrific campaign that also played on ‘bathroom’ fears – with an ad even featuring a man raping a little girl.
To clarify, rape is still illegal, and affording basic civil rights protections to LGBT people doesn’t change this. Rapists are not a protected category under the legislation.
That information hasn’t stopped North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat MccRory, however – who said today that he will legislate in order to nullify the city’s decision.
He said in a statement: “As I communicated and predicted prior to the vote, state legislative leaders have notified me about introducing legislation that would correct this misguided government regulation and ensure it will not happen in any town or city in North Carolina.
“I am disappointed and saddened Charlotte city government initiated overreaching regulations that change basic standards and expectations of privacy regarding restrooms and locker rooms,
“As governor, I will support legislative action to address this regulation and will remain committed to protecting the privacy and safety of all men, women and children of all ages in North Carolina.
“My position is consistent with challenging government overreach by the federal, state and now a local government.”
He told the Charlotte Observer: “What I anticipate is immediate legislation in April which would ensure that no city or town in North Carolina would be allowed to pass a regulation or implement a regulation which would basically invade the basic standards and privacies of people who want to feel secure in a restroom or locker room facility.
“From a state perspective it’s saying that we’re making sure that we’re not having too much intrusion by not just the federal government but the state government and local governments.”
He added: “I’m getting involved in an issue which transcends political boundaries.”
To be clear once again: there are zero documented cases of anti-discrimination legislation being used to protect anyone who has sexually assaulted someone in a bathroom.
Such a defence would be legally illiterate and is thoroughly debunked by even the most basic logic. Anti-discrimination legislation has zero impact on laws surrounding indecent exposure, sexual harassment, sexual assault or rape, all of which remain crimes.
Prior to the intervention, the passage of the city’s ordinance had been welcomed by civil rights groups.
Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina, said: “With this vote, North Carolina’s largest city has affirmed that all people deserve to be treated fairly and protected by the law.
“When a business decides to open its doors to the public, it should be open to everyone on the same terms. We applaud Charlotte’s council members for making their city more safe, welcoming, and inclusive, and we urge municipal leaders across the state to follow their example.
“Charlotte has full authority to enact this ordinance, and we hope the General Assembly will respect this local government’s decision to protect its residents and visitors from discrimination.”
The governor’s decision comes amid a swing against LGBT rights in a number of Republican-controlled states, with ‘religious freedom’ bills mooted in a number of areas in order to permit discrimination against LGBT people.
Actress Sally Field previously rallied against such ‘bathroom’ scaremongering, accusing legislators of peddling lies in order to pass regressive legislation.
She told reporters: “It is a lie, it’s a lie, it’s a lie, it’s a lie, that is all there is to it”.
A separate lawsuit is ongoing in North Carolina after Republican legislation which allows magistrates to refuse to marry gay, lesbian or bisexual couples, based on their religious beliefs
A lawsuit filed by same-sex couples says that the North Carolina law, passed after the Supreme Court ruling on equal marriage, is clearly unconstitutional.
Activists say the law allows those with religious beliefs to discriminate over the ordinary citizens of the state, and is a clear flouting of the Supreme Court’s judgement that equal marriage is a constitutional right.