Status of NC HB 2
The Charlotte City Council tried negotiating with the leadership of the General Assembly to find a way to lessen the damages that are happening to the state’s economy, particularly Charlotte, which has been hard hit. The General Assembly refused to budge on HB 2, and the council voted to uphold its anti-discrimination ordinance so it has come to a stand-off.
HB 2 was merely North Carolina’s version of the backlash that has been occuring in legislatures across the nation against the decisions of the courts (at many levels) supporting LGBT rights. Some states have chosen to push “religious freedom” laws that provide exceptions that allow people to ignore or disobey federal laws and regulations simply by stating that those laws violate their religious beliefs. North Carolina chose a much broader approach striking down all LGBT minority rights, including those regarding employment, housing, and public accomodations. They nullified all local ordinances that provided protections for LGBT people. The General Assembly said they didn’t nullify any of the policies of private companies or corporations, only public entities, such as cities, schools, and universities.
These organizations are now caught in a bind between the President’s proclamation on transgender rights and their exclusion in HB 2. The result has been a series of lawsuits filed in opposition and in support of the law by state, federal, and private plaintiffs. It’s anyone’s guess how long these cases could be tied up in the courts. In the meantime, the economic impact continues to grow. Some rural legislators, who resent the urban booms, apparently don’t care about the impact of HB2 since the growth has largely missed the rural counties that are still hurting from the loss of manufacturing jobs from decades ago. They have been left behind in the information economy in spite of efforts to expand broadband internet access statewide.
It’s not just the politicians who are split on this issue, the churches are also divided. The more progressive denominations have moved on, but the fundamentalists still insist on the Old Testatment’s citations about homosexuality. Of course, those scriptures that cite such “abominations” also declare the same penalities for eating pork of shellfish. At that time there was no separation of church and state, and the health codes of a desert country with no refrigeration were reasonable in avoiding certain diseases. If the fundamentalists really believe in literally obeying all of the 613 rules of 1st Century Judaism, then they are behaving abominally for eating pulled pork.
The so-called culture wars are as much about education and economic class as religiosity. For the first 100 years of this nation, the Bible was cited as justifying slavery, and we fought a civil war over the divide. The abolition of slavery ruined the plantation economy and set back the South decades. The modern South with the right-to-work laws and air-conditioning brought jobs and migrants from the North. Then the small textile and furniture plants moved to even lower-wage countries, and those jobs aren’t coming back. So many rural residients still survive on subsistence farming, particularly with the loss of their major crop tobacco.
Especially in the past year we have been reminded that racism is still endemic on this country, and the idea of society accepting queers is even more threatening to the status quo. The folks on the bottom rung of the ladder need somebody to blame and to hate for their plight.
The struggle of HB 2 is just beginning.