In the month since NC HB 2 was passed, the outcry from businesses, churches, and many other organizations, the Governor and the leadership of the NC General Assembly have stonewalled all the opposition to the bill. They claimed that the bill was misinterpreted, manipulated by the media, and used by the opposition to further their agenda. The Governor appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” even though he had avoided all questions from local media for weeks. According to him, it was all a big misunderstanding, and all that was required was a little dialogue to smooth out the rough spots. In spite of the fact that the bill was passed and signed within 12 hours with little opportunity for discussion even within the General Assembly, he only called for more discussion. They have tried to frame the debate as between Christians and secularists, but most Christians object.
The legislation already has caused severe damage to the reputation to the state, cost the loss of hundreds of jobs, and even the United Kingdom issued a warning about travel to North Carolina. The leaders have firmly stood their ground, ignored the protests, cancellations, and general ridicule. They have defended their actions based upon the principle of defending “the public safety” and the urgency of the legislation because a Charlotte Ordinance was about to go into effect. The ordinance was similar to dozens of other cities both nationally and within the state. In other words, they continue to pander to the radical right who has been roused by the big lie and fear mongering.
This legislation was a variation in the wording (but similar in effect) to legislation passed in other states defending “religious freedom,” which in several cases already have been overturned by the courts. This trend clearly is a reaction to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court declaring the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. The result was to make same-sex marriage legal in all states. The so-called Culture Wars are in full passion and fit the mood of the hostile political debates that are dividing the nation before we even have an election.
The LGBT community has been the target of the radical right for decades as they cling to the social norms of the 19th Century and refuse to acknowledge that public opinion is against them. It really is a generational issue, where most young people could care less.
Unfortunately the dividing line runs between North Carolina and Mississippi and the rest of the nation, and the citizens of both states are suffering the consequences. There are six months until the elections, and the leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly has dug into the trenches and seems immune to the public outcry over their ill-considered actions. The attitude of the past five years of “We’re in political control, and we can do whatever we damn well please regardless of how stupid it may be.” Meanwhile, the poor, the unemployed, teachers, minorities, and nearly everyone besides Art Pope suffer the consequences.