Donald Trump, HB2, And The Soft Bigotry Of Low Expectations

I want to talk about the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”

We’ve heard that phrase, right? Michael Gerson is the one who coined it, back in 2000 when he was a speechwriter for George W. Bush. Back then, it was an argument about race and education: we’re hurting African-American students by failing to hold them to a high standard, rewarding them for doing the bare minimum. Low expectations means students have no incentive to strive or work hard or be ambitious – so the achievement gap will never close, families will be stuck in poverty, and it’ll be on us for not having been more demanding.

That was the original argument, and it resonated well – especially with Republicans, who pride themselves on being the party of personal responsibility.

But here’s the thing, y’all:

Today, the “soft bigotry of low expectations” is still with us – only it’s not against African-Americans.

It’s against Republicans.

Today, Donald Trump and Paul Ryan met to work out an “agreement” to re-unify the GOP. Now, Donald Trump is a pathological liar, he says he wants to ban all Muslims from entering the country, he’s stirred up hatred of immigrants, he’s threatened to prosecute journalists who criticize him, and he’s actively encouraged his followers to beat up anyone who disagrees. Any one of those things ought to be enough to disqualify him from being president – if we hold our candidates up to high standards. Instead, GOP leaders are willing to let all that slide. Ryan will settle for some tiny concession, they’ll come out saying they’ve had great talks and reached an understanding, and they’ll shake hands and smile and move on. (Even as I’m writing this, Ryan and Trump just released a statement to exactly that effect.)

Meanwhile, Trump is creating a new controversy by refusing to release his tax returns. “There’s nothing to learn from them,” he says. Trump’s opponents say he’s lying about his finances, he’s not really worth ten billion dollars, he’s involved in shady dealings. But there’s no proof without the tax returns, so Trump says it must be a non-issue.

That’s how low the bar is for Donald Trump. We can’t prove he’s committed dozens of felonies; therefore he’s qualified to lead the free world. He has no respect for the Constitution, but that’s okay because he gives the GOP a slightly better chance of winning in November.

The soft bigotry of low expectations.

And it’s not just Trump. In North Carolina, we’re all about to go to court over the “bathroom” section of House Bill 2. What, exactly, are Republicans arguing? They’re arguing that federal law bans discrimination on the basis of sex, but it doesn’t overtly ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity, so a law that discriminates on that basis is technically acceptable.

Mind you, this is not the GOP’s fallback position – this is their position. Pat McCrory is making this argument loudly and proudly. “House Bill 2 is technically not directly against the law, so therefore it must be okay.” Forget whether it actually protects public safety. (McCrory hasn’t even tried to make that argument for weeks, in case you haven’t noticed.) As long as it manages to skate riiight up to the line of breaking federal law without actually technically crossing it, House Bill 2 must be perfectly fine.

The soft bigotry of low expectations.

And it’s not even just House Bill 2. This year alone, we’ve had legal fights over Congressional district lines, state legislative district lines, voter ID, teacher tenure, and judicial elections. Sooner or later, “magistrate recusal” is heading to the courts as well. And in every single one of those cases, it’s the same argument from the GOP: “Well, technically it’s not quite a violation of federal law, so therefore it must be okay.”

You know what? That’s not good enough.

It’s time we raised the bar.

Rather than letting the NCGA get away with passing bill after bill that’s arguably just slightly not quite unconstitutional, let’s demand our lawmakers pass bills that don’t create a legal crisis at all.

Rather than having to go to court and nitpick over whether our district lines constitute racial gerrymandering or just partisan gerrymandering, let’s just draw our district lines without any gerrymandering whatsoever.

Rather than making Pat McCrory go on TV and argue that “gender” discrimination technically isn’t the same thing as “sex” discrimination, let’s just have a law that doesn’t discriminate on the basis of gender or sex.

Rather than making teachers sue the state to secure their contractually guaranteed benefits, let’s just fulfill the frigging contract.

Rather than jumping through legal hoops to argue that we’re not technically violating the Voting Rights Act when we impose new voting restrictions, let’s just…not impose new voting restrictions.

And rather than selling your soul and supporting a presidential candidate who stirs up hatred, panders to racists, trashes the Constitution, and generally acts like an eight-year-old playground bully, let’s actually demand our candidates meet a higher standard than the lowest possible bar. Ditch Trump if you need to. Vote for Gary Johnson instead. Democrats, if your candidate doesn’t hold up to high standards either, same story. Vote Johnson. Vote Stein. Write in somebody good.

Our political leaders ought to be better than this. Our candidates ought to be better than this. We ought to be better than this.

Otherwise, we’re subjecting ourselves, our state, and our country to the soft bigotry of low expectations. And we’re going to hate ourselves for it.

To hell with that. There’s too much hate already.


Postscript: Michael Gerson, the speechwriter who originally coined the phrase “soft bigotry of low expectations,” is now a writer for the Washington Post – and he’s remained consistent. He’s been a vocal opponent of Donald Trump’s for a long time now, most recently in this column.

Maybe It’d Be Faster If We Just Listed Everyone Who Hasn’t Denounced HB2

So here’s the latest, as of April 17:

The city council in Los Angeles just voted unanimously to ban publicly-funded employee travel to North Carolina, in protest against House Bill 2. So you can add LA to that rapidly-growing list.

(Hey, remember back in 2014 when Chapel Hill hosted the Mayors Innovation Project? A hundred mayors from all over the country coming here to see how cool Chapel Hill is? Yeah, those days are oooooover.)

Meanwhile: HB2 supporters breathed a mini-sigh of relief on Friday when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver appeared to announce they weren’t going to move next year’s All-Star Game out of Charlotte after all. But then the NBA released a statement clarifying: no, they haven’t actually decided not to move the All-Star Game – they just haven’t yet decided to move it.

“At no time did Adam affirm that the league would not move the All-Star Game; rather he stressed repeatedly that the legislation is problematic, that we feel it is best to engage with the community to work towards a solution, that change is needed and we are hopeful that it will occur.”

(Nothing against the NBA, but it’s probably a good sign you’ve taken your homophobia too far when even the pro sports leagues aren’t sure they want anything to do with you.)

And now we can add Duran Duran to the list of entertainers who have issued statements publicly bashing North Carolina. Duran Duran is taking the Mumford & Sons route instead of the Springsteen route – rather than canceling their show outright, they’re going to use it to raise awareness and funds for Equality NC. In a statement, the band denounced House Bill 2 as “outdated and cruel.”

(Nothing against Simon LeBon, but it’s probably a good sign you’re behind the times when you get called “outdated” by Duran Duran.)

Ye gods, it’s getting hard to keep up with it all, isn’t it? Ever since HB2 passed, it’s been one after another after another. You no sooner hear about PayPal when you get a tweet from Deutsche Bank. You can’t dwell on Dayton, Ohio, because now Salt Lake City is weighing in. You’re just about to get your Springsteen refund, and suddenly those Ringo tickets are invalid too. (This boycott gets any bigger, we’ll all be huddling around record players, listening to bootlegged Rodriguez LPs.)

Here at Chapelboro, we’ve been trying to stay on top of things. But it’s literally impossible. In the time it takes to make a list of all the denunciations, a dozen more businesses will chime in. Try to add those dozen businesses, and six more conferences get canceled. It never ends.

Let’s simplify matters.

Rather than desperately trying to maintain a list of all the people and places that are denouncing House Bill 2, let’s just keep a list of all the folks who haven’t denounced it.

Probably faster, right?

And I’m not even saying let’s list everyone who’s come out in favor of HB2. That list barely even exists. (Remember when the NC Values Coalition tried compiling a list of pro-HB2 businesses? There were so few, they had to pad it with businesses that had pro-HB2 employees.) No, no, I’m only talking about the people who haven’t made a statement either way.

So here ya go, North Carolina: these are just some of the people who (as far as I know) haven’t gone out of their way to publicly denounce us yet. Enjoy!

Cities, Counties, And States That Have Yet To Ban Publicly-Funded Employee Travel To North Carolina

Arthur County, Nebraska
Butte, Montana
Dubuque, Iowa
Forsythe County, Georgia
Kenosha, Wisconsin
Loving County, Texas
Merrimack, New Hampshire
North Dakota
Quail Heights, Florida
Rankin County, Mississippi
Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories
Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania
Washoe County, Nevada
Zilwaukee, Michigan

Businesses That Have Not Yet Denounced House Bill 2 Or Threatened To Pull Jobs From North Carolina

Buy Buy Baby
General Motors
Malaysia Airlines

Entertainers That Have No Current Plans To Stop Performing In NC Or To Donate Proceeds From NC Shows To Pro-LGBT Causes

Arena Football League
Hank Williams III
Jeff Dunham
Justin Bieber
Lauryn Hill
Los Del Rio
The Oak Ridge Boys
Pearl Jam (took long enough!)
R. Kelly
Ted Nugent
Vanilla Ice
Weird Al Yankovic
ZZ Top*

There you go, y’all! Make your purchases and travel plans accordingly. (And feel free to correct me if I got some of these wrong. There have been so many public denunciations of this bill, it’s entirely possible a few slipped through the cracks.)

(* – ZZ Top has not made a public statement about HB2, but they’re on tour this summer with Gregg Allman, who did denounce HB2 on April 12. They’re still coming to North Carolina in May.)

Roy Cooper: Attorney General’s Office Will Not Defend HB2

North Carolina Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper announced on Tuesday that his office would not defend the constitutionality of House Bill 2, which – among other things – repeals the Charlotte City Council’s decision to extend the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to the LGBT community.

Cooper began addressing reporters by saying, “We should not even be here today.”

Cooper added, “We’re here because the governor has signed statewide legislation that puts discrimination into the law.”

A lawsuit was filed on Monday by LGBT advocacy groups challenging the legislation.

Cooper went on to call House Bill 2 “a national embarrassment” adding that “it will set North Carolina’s economy back, if we don’t repeal it.”

Cooper said that rather than defending the listed defendants in the lawsuit – Governor Pat McCrory, UNC, the UNC System Board of Governors and that board chair Lou Bissette – his office would defend the state Treasurer’s office. Cooper said the Treasurer’s office has a nondiscrimination policy similar to one the Department of Justice has in place, and the Treasurer’s office, which is occupied by a Democrat, requested the services of the DOJ to defend that policy.

“In order to protect our nondiscrimination policy and employees, along with those of our client – the state Treasurer’s office – part of our argument will be that House Bill 2 in unconstitutional,” Cooper said.

Cooper said defending the Treasurer’s office in this case presents a conflict and, therefore, his office can not defend the state.

“Part of that duty of defending those policies, which help protect employees, would be to argue that this law in unconstitutional,” Cooper said. “And we can’t do both.”

Because the Attorney General’s office will not defend the state, the defendants will have to hire outside legal counsel – which has been done before when Cooper would no longer defend North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage.

During the press conference, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger issued a release saying that Cooper’s “zeal for pandering for the extreme left’s money and agenda in his race for governor is making it impossible for him to fulfill his duties as attorney general – and he should resign immediately.”

Cooper described this as a “unique and different situation.”

Cooper added, “My office has stepped up and defended some bad legislation that I do not agree with. We do our job in this office.”

Cooper took it a step beyond saying his office wouldn’t defend the lawsuit, calling for action from the legislature and Governor McCrory.

“Discrimination is wrong, period,” Cooper said. “The governor and the legislature should repeal this law.”

Cooper and McCrory are set to square off in what is expected to be one of the closest and most expensive races for Governor in the country in this November’s elections.

Facts And Myths (That McCrory Forgot) About House Bill 2

On Wednesday, March 23, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2, in response to a Charlotte ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lawmakers who supported the bill insisted they only wanted to overturn one part of that ordinance – people were worried it would lead to men in dresses barging into the ladies’ room – but the actual bill they passed was much, much broader.

To put it mildly, there has been a bit of a backlash. Dozens of businesses have publicly denounced the bill. The NCAA is hinting that it might not host championship events in North Carolina anymore. The NBA suggested it might move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte. The mayor of San Francisco just banned town staff from traveling here on the public dime. And on and on.

So now Republicans are in damage control mode. On Friday, Governor Pat McCrory released a statement called “Myths vs. Facts,” in the form of a frequently-asked-questions page, to counter some of the criticisms. (They really want to make sure this gets out. We at WCHL have received this same statement three times already, from three different state departments. Others have reported receiving it as many as eight times.)

You can read it here.

Give him credit! McCrory’s FAQ page gets a couple things wrong – for instance, he says “nothing changes in North Carolina cities,” which isn’t right, and he says the bill doesn’t “take away existing protections for individuals in North Carolina,” though in fact it does – but in general, most of what’s there is technically correct.

Only thing is, he forgot a few questions.

So let’s take care of that.

1. Now that House Bill 2 has passed, is it legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians in North Carolina?

Yes. Sections 3.1 and 3.3 of the bill prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, and biological sex. (Section 3.1 also bans discrimination on the basis of age or disability, but only when it comes to employment practices.) Sexual orientation is not included as a category, so it is, in fact, legal now to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Here’s the full text of the bill, if you want to read it for yourself.

2. What does that mean in practice?

You can be fired for being gay. You can be demoted for being gay. Employers can refuse to hire you for being gay. They can refuse to promote you for being gay. Businesses can refuse to serve you for being gay.

3. If someone wants to discriminate against gays and lesbians, do they have to claim a “sincere religious objection,” like in the Indiana law last year that caused such a fuss?

No. State law allows people to discriminate against gays and lesbians for any reason they like.

4. Was that just an oversight?

No. A State House member proposed amending the bill to include sexual orientation as a protected category, but the House explicitly decided not to do so.

5. Is this a change from before?

Not on the state level. But there were local ordinances in towns and counties across the state that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – and House Bill 2 “supersedes and preempts” those local laws, so they all got wiped out overnight.

6. Can local governments pass new ordinances banning discrimination?

No. House Bill 2 explicitly forbids them from doing so. (Local governments are free to decide how they want to hire and fire their own employees, but that’s it.)

7. Are there other categories that are no longer protected?

Yes. Orange County, for instance, had an ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of veteran status and familial status, but that’s been wiped out too.

8. So you can be discriminated against for being a veteran now?

Not quite. There is a federal law that bans discrimination against military veterans, so you’re still covered there. If you do experience discrimination for that reason, though, you can’t seek redress at the state level – you have to go through the federal system, which is harder and costlier.

9. Rrgh! Okay, how about Republicans? Is it legal to discriminate against Republicans?

All right, smart-aleck.

10. No, seriously. Can I ban Republicans from eating in my restaurant?

Well…actually, yes. But not because of House Bill 2. Party affiliation has never been a protected class, so technically you’ve always been able to do that.

11. Has anyone tried doing that?

Not to my knowledge. But I think if you ask a Republican, they’ll tell you half of Carrboro’s been doing it for decades.

12. Ha ha.

Hey, you try being a Republican in Carrboro.

13. All right, back to being serious. House Bill 2 bans discrimination on the basis of…what again?

Race, religion, color, national origin, biological sex, and sometimes age and disability.

14. Okay, suppose I get discriminated against for my religion. I can still sue, right?


15. WHAT?!

According to sections 3.2 and 3.3 of the bill, “no person may bring any civil action” if they experience discrimination, even when it comes to the categories where discrimination is explicitly banned. So no, you’re not allowed to sue in state court.

16. That’s bul!&@%*!

Hey, watch it, bub.

17. Are there any other states that do that?

Yes. Mississippi.

18. Literally the only other state is Mississippi?

Yes. North Carolina and Mississippi are now the only states in the US that do not allow you to sue in state court if you experience discrimination.

19. Sigh. Okay, so what can I do?

Well, you can still sue in federal court, if it’s a category that’s covered by federal law. But again, that’s much harder and way more expensive.

20. Is there anything I can do on the state level?

Yes. House Bill 2 authorizes the state’s Human Relations Commission to “receive, investigate, and conciliate complaints of discrimination in public accommodations.” So if you experience discrimination, you can file a complaint with the Human Relations Commission.

21. Didn’t the General Assembly try to eliminate the Human Relations Commission just last year?

Yes, they did.

22. Unbelievable.

Look, why are you focusing on all this discrimination stuff? This bill is about sickos in bathrooms, remember?

23. Okay, fine. Let’s go there. What exactly is House Bill 2 supposed to protect us from?

House Bill 2 protects us from sexual predators who might claim to be “transgender” in order to go into women’s restrooms and commit acts of peeping or even assault.

24. Isn’t there already a law against peeping and assault?

Yes. But sexual predators can’t be trusted to obey the law.

25. But they can be trusted to obey this one?

That’s the idea.

26. So, evil people will break all kinds of laws, but they’ll obey a little sign on the door. Isn’t that basically the same dumb logic conservatives rail against when we talk about gun-free school zones?

Hey, you liberals are being inconsistent too, you know.

27. Fair enough. There are already more than 200 cities in the US that allow people to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity, like Charlotte was trying to do. Has this been an issue in any of those cities?

No. There was one guy in Seattle who went into a women’s locker room, apparently as a form of protest (he was dressed as a man and never claimed to be transgender), but other than that, there have been zero reported incidents.

28. So all this is because people are worried that something might happen, even though it’s never happened in 200 other cities?


29. Great. Okay, so let’s talk about enforcement. If all these people want to use the restroom, where will they have to go?

House Bill 2


Biologically, those are all women. House Bill 2 requires them to use the ladies’ room.

30. Wait, really? House Bill 2 requires all of these people…

House Bill 2


…to use the ladies‘ room?

Yes. But there is a caveat. If you have a sex change, you can go through the process of having your birth certificate altered. So if those people have had their birth certificates altered, they can use the men’s room.

Think You Can Enforce House Bill 2? Take This Easy Quiz!


31. But if they haven’t? They’d be required to use the ladies’ room?

Yes. For your safety and protection.

32. So House Bill 2 requires us to use the restroom that corresponds with the gender listed on our birth certificate. Are we supposed to carry our birth certificates around now?

Of course not.

33. So how are we planning on enforcing this?

They didn’t really think that far ahead.

34. Okay, say I’m a woman, and I’m out with my six-year-old son, and one of us has to use the restroom. Can I bring my son in the women’s room?

Yes. As long as your son is under seven, you can bring him into the women’s room.

35. Glad they thought of that, at least.

Oh, they actually didn’t. The original bill didn’t have that exception. It was added as an amendment after a state legislator brought it up.

36. What if my son is eight years old?

Then he’ll have to go into the men’s room by himself, or else wait outside alone while you use the women’s room.

37. I have to leave my son standing there alone outside a public bathroom?

Yes. For his safety and protection.

38. Why did they make seven the cutoff age, anyway?

Why are you asking so many questions?

39. This all seems ridiculous.

Look, we need this to protect privacy. Women have the right to privacy, you know.

40. Women have the right to privacy?

Don’t you go making this a birth control thing.

41. Is House Bill 2 even constitutional?

Good question. In Romer v. Evans (1996), the Supreme Court struck down a Colorado law that banned local governments from protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination. That’s because the law treated gays and lesbians unequally, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The justices said Colorado only needed to provide a “rational basis” for the unequal treatment, but they couldn’t find one.

House Bill 2 basically does the exact same thing that Colorado’s law does, so there’s a chance the Supreme Court will rule the same way. On the other hand, Colorado’s law explicitly singled out gays and lesbians by name, whereas House Bill 2 just omits them from a list of protected classes. So the Court may rule differently here. (Two other states, Arkansas and Tennessee, also have similar laws that ban local governments from protecting gays and lesbians.)

Either way, there will definitely be a lot of litigation over this, and the state will have to pay a lot of money to defend it in court.

42. My tax dollars, you mean.


43. Is there anything good about this bill?

Why yes. House Bill 2 establishes a uniform statewide anti-discrimination policy, so the law is now exactly the same from city to city.

44. What’s the benefit of that?


45. What else does the bill do?

Glad you asked. We’ve covered Part 1, which deals with bathrooms, and Part 3, the anti-discrimination stuff. I haven’t even mentioned Part 2, which bans local governments from passing living wage ordinances or regulating hours, benefits, and a bunch of other stuff.

46. “Bunch of other stuff”?

Yes, “such as the wage levels of employees, hours of labor, payment of earned wages, benefits, leave, or well-being of minors in the workforce.”

47. What does any of that have to do with sickos in bathrooms?


48. Is House Bill 2 more sweeping than expected?

No. Let’s be honest, we all knew they were going to do this.

49. Will the General Assembly ever call a special session to bring teacher salaries up to the national average?

Ha! Good one.

50. Anything else I need to know?

Yes. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.


EDIT: Thanks for all your comments! I’ve edited the FAQ list to fix one error: a reader pointed out that HB2 actually does make an exception (sections 1.2d and 1.3d) for caregivers who enter an opposite-gender restroom to assist someone with a disability.

Another reader noted that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has ruled that the federal ban on sex-based discrimination also includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity – so if you’re fired for being gay or transgender, you can (currently) file a claim on the federal level with the EEOC. That’s a matter of statutory interpretation, though, not the law itself: federal law still doesn’t specify sexual orientation or gender identity as protected categories, so the EEOC could change its interpretation at a later date (say, with the next presidential administration). This is also a subject of ongoing litigation, so a court could overrule the EEOC in the future too.

In any event, the EEOC only covers employment – so regardless of how they happen to interpret the law, businesses can still refuse to serve you for being gay, anywhere in the state of North Carolina.

Carrboro Board of Aldermen Call Special Meeting Over HB2

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen has called a special meeting for one o’clock Saturday afternoon at Carrboro Town Hall.

A notification of the meeting says it has been called to “consider a resolution concerning Session Law 2016-3 (House Bill 2).”

HB2 was passed through the North Carolina legislature on Wednesday to repeal a Charlotte City Council ordinance that extended the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to members of the LGBT community.

The bill, which was signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory on Wednesday night after being introduced on Wednesday morning, also repeals local ordinances with similar protections across North Carolina and eliminates the ability of local governments to enact other policies, including living wage ordinances.

The most controversial piece of the Charlotte ordinance was the section that allowed transgender individuals to use the restroom of their gender identity rather than their biological sex.

Democratic Senator Dan Blue said Republicans “played on the fears of the citizenry unjustly and unfairly,” during debate on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

Think You Can Enforce House Bill 2? Take This Easy Quiz!

On Wednesday, March 23, the North Carolina General Assembly rushed back to session and passed House Bill 2, a law designed to overturn Charlotte’s recent anti-discrimination ordinance.

What does it do? Well, among other things, the bill makes it legal to discriminate against gays, lesbians, and military veterans; it bans cities from regulating child labor; and it prohibits you from suing in state court if you’re discriminated against. (Instead you’ll have to go through the state’s Human Relations Commission, which the GA nearly eliminated just last year.)

(Read the bill for yourself if you think I’m exaggerating.)

But forget all that! The real purpose of House Bill 2 is to protect your safety – by prohibiting men from going into women’s restrooms, and by keeping women out of the men’s room. That was the thing that got everyone upset about Charlotte’s ordinance, after all – one provision that would have allowed transgender individuals to use the bathroom that corresponded with their gender identity, rather than their “actual” biological sex.

And I mean a lot of people were upset about that. What? Men dressing up as women, going into the women’s room? And Charlotte wants to allow that? Outrageous!

And the NCGA heard your outcry. So now we have House Bill 2, which requires everyone to use the bathroom that corresponds to their “biological sex,” or the gender that’s listed on their birth certificate.

Makes sense, right?

Problem solved? Easy fix?

Let’s find out!

NC State Patrol badge

You are hereby deputized as an agent of the North Carolina State Bathroom Patrol! Your job is to enforce House Bill 2 – by steering the men to the men’s room and the women to the women’s room. Remember, we’re talking biological sex here: it’s not what you look like or how you dress, it’s the gender on your birth certificate that matters.


All right, ten people are heading your way. No time to check birth certificates, but this should be easy. All you have to do is separate the men from the women. Go!

Ben Jordan

Janet Mock

Ines Rau

Brooklyn Beckham

Jamie Raines 1

Margaret Trudeau

Ben Melzer

Amal Clooney

Aydian Dowling

Jamie Raines 2


Time’s up! Any trouble?

If House Bill 2 makes any sense at all as a public safety measure, this quiz should have been super easy. Men are men and women are women, right?

Well, as it happens, this quiz was super easy. Turns out, the boys and girls had already separated themselves!

The top four photos are all biological men. First guy up there in the denim shirt is male model Ben Jordan. Looking good! Right under Jordan is New York Times bestselling author Janet Mock, followed by internationally-renowned model Ines Rau. They’re both transgender women. The guy in the bumblebee shirt is Brooklyn Beckham, son of David and Victoria. One hundred percent man right there!

The bottom six photos are all biological women. In the red hoodie is YouTube celebrity Jamie Raines, aka “Jammidodger.” After that is former Canadian first lady Margaret Trudeau, the mother of current Canadian PM Justin. That steamy-looking tough guy underneath Trudeau? That’s transgender fitness model Ben Melzer. Better make sure to send him to the women’s room, right? After Melzer is a woman you might recognize, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. (Maybe you know her better as George Clooney’s wife.) Following Clooney is another fitness model, Aydian Dowling; last year he became the first trans man to make the cover of Men’s Health magazine. And finally – time warp! That last picture is actually YouTube celebrity Jamie Raines again, after his transition from female to male.


How’d you do?

If House Bill 2 makes sense, then you should have gotten 10 out of 10, no problem. The underlying assumption behind House Bill 2 is that men and women are profoundly different, totally easy to tell apart, and there are no blurry lines or fluidity between the genders at all.

But I bet you didn’t get 10 out of 10, did you?

And even the ones you got right, I bet a couple of those were lucky guesses?

That’s the problem with the “biological sex” approach. House Bill 2, and the lawmakers behind it, don’t really believe there’s any such thing as being “transgender.” It’s men and women, they think, and that’s it.

Trouble is, there is such a thing as being transgender.

There are blurry lines.

There is fluidity.

And if we ignore that fact – as House Bill 2 does – then all of a sudden we find ourselves waking up in a state that forces sexy supermodel Ines Rau to go into the bathroom with a bunch of guys…and sends muscle-bear Ben Melzer into the women’s room to hang out with the ladies.

Because that’s what House Bill 2 does, y’all. And that’s the best thing it has going for it.

Good morning.



(Photo Credits:  Ben Jordan via W Magazine, Janet Mock via, Ines Rau via Oob Magazine, Brooklyn Beckham via Man About Town, Jamie Raines via YouTube, Margaret Trudeau via Arlen Redekop/Vancouver Sun, Ben Melzer via Instagram, Amal Clooney via Jason Merritt, Aydian Dowling via Men’s Health, and Jamie Raines via YouTube.)

North Carolina General Assembly Repeals LGBT Nondiscrimination Ordinance

North Carolina lawmakers passed what LGBT advocates called “the worst anti-LGBT legislation in the nation,” on Wednesday.

GOP leadership in the House and Senate referred to House Bill 2 as “common sense” legislation on multiple occasions during the discussion of the bill. The legislation was passed in special session after the Charlotte City Council voted to extend the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to include transgender individuals.

The piece of the ordinance that drew the most negative attention stemmed from the fact that the bill would allow members of the transgender community to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. Some felt that would open doors for sexual predators to say they had the right to be in the bathroom of the opposite sex. Most hypothetical scenarios laid out by lawmakers included a situation involving an adult male entering a bathroom or locker room full of young girls.

Democratic Senator Dan Blue said scare tactics brought about the special session from the General Assembly.

“We’re here because, I think, that we’ve played on fears of the citizenry unjustly and unfairly,” Blue said.

Republican Senator Buck Newton had a different interpretation of why the special session was called.

“The City Council of Charlotte lost their mind and decided to embark upon a very radical course and a new, I guess you would call it an ordinance,” Newton said.

Newton added Charlotte leaders had no legal standing for extending the nondiscrimination ordinance.

“The City Council of Charlotte, the majority anyway,” Newton said, “decided that they would bow to the altar of radical political correctness.”

During debate on the House floor it was brought up that more than 200 cities across the country have ordinances similar to what Charlotte leaders put in place, and those cities had very few or no issues with what North Carolina Republican leadership described.

The bill passed the House with an 83-24 margin.

The bill then went to the Senate for debate. During which, the aforementioned Dan Blue said that because the views of Democrats were not solicited or listened to during the writing of the bill and because this would infringe on the rights of municipalities to govern themselves, Senate Democrats would not participate in the vote.

“We’re not participating in this effort that you make to roll back the clock in this state, to take away powers from local governments,” Blue said.

All Democratic Senators then left the Senate chamber and the bill passed 32-0.

In addition to repealing the Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance and other ordinances around the state that had similar pieces, the bill removes any power that local and county governments have to adopt living wage ordinances.

Similar bills were recently defeated in Tennessee and South Dakota over fears the legislation would cost the states hundreds of millions of dollars in Title IX funding.

Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper was referenced several times by Republican lawmakers on Wednesday, who said if the Attorney General had “done his job” and filed an injunction after Charlotte leadership passed the ordinance, there would have been no need for this legislation.

Cooper, who won the Democratic nomination for Governor and will challenge incumbent Pat McCrory in November, released a video while the bill was being discussed opposing the legislation.

Cooper said called it “shameful” that North Carolina is “putting discrimination into the law.”

Governor McCrory signed the legislation into law on Wednesday night, according to a statement from his press office.

Several members of the business community voiced opposition to the bill on Wednesday.

National LGBT Ground Endorses Storrow for Town Council

A national LGBT organization is endorsing Lee Storrow in his re-election campaign for the Chapel Hill Town Council.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund called Storrow a “dynamic, young leader who has a track record of standing up for policies that promote diversity.”

In a prepared statement, Storrow said, “given the recent passage of Senate Bill 2 by the North Carolina General Assembly, it is more important than ever that we elect openly-gay and pro-equality candidates to public office.”

Storrow announced in March that he would be running for re-election this fall.

He was first elected to the Town Council in 2011.

Honors, Tours, And Curiosities!

Congratulations to Desaray Rockett, Judith Blau, and Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe–winners of this year’s Pauli Murray Awards.

The Orange County Human Relations Commission gives out the Pauli Murray Awards each year to a youth, an adult, and a business in Orange County “who serve the community with distinction in the pursuit of equality, justice, and human rights for all residents.”

This year’s winners were honored at a ceremony on Sunday, February 23, at 3:00 in the Central Orange Senior Center. Also honored were Judah Kalb and Nathan Bell – both students at Smith Middle School, and both winners of the Orange County Human Relations Commission’s 2013 Student Essay Contest.

As part of a class on African American Studies, Kalb and Bell wrote about the lasting impact of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Kalb won first place in the essay contest; Bell took second.


UNC has honored Roberto G. Quercia, chair of the City and Regional Planning department, with the university’s 2013 C. Felix Harvey Award.

Awarded by the Provost’s office, the honor recognizes “exemplary faculty scholarship that reflects one of UNC’s top priorities and addresses a real-world challenge.” It includes a $75,000 prize, which Quercia will use to develop the Bridges2Success Scholar Athlete Support Program, an academy that trains middle and high school coaches to promote academic success among male athletes of color.

To learn more about the program, visit


You’re invited to the annual meeting of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, Wednesday, March 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the Carolina Inn.

Speakers will include Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue and Al Bowers, the owner of Al’s Burger Shack.


Before there were art museums and science museums, there were “Cabinets of Curiosities”: densely packed rooms where scholars and nobles displayed rare and fascinating items from shells to gems to old relics and bizarre devices.

Now, UNC’s Wilson Library is celebrating those old exhibits with an exhibit of its own, “Rooms of Wonder,” on display through April 20. The exhibit features rare books and catalogs from the old rooms–as well as items from the UNC Rare Book Collection’s own “cabinet of curiosities,” including ancient Babylonian tablets, an Egyptian papyrus roll, and an “Incan record-keeping device consisting of intricately knotted threads.”

The exhibit is free and open to the public.


Wednesday, March 5, you’re invited to campus for a free screening of the documentary “Breaking Through,” chronicling the stories of LGBT elected officials across the country–including Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay U.S. Senator.

The film begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Nelson Mandela Auditorium in UNC’s FedEx Global Education Center. Director/producer Cindy Abel and editor Michael Bruno will be on hand, and the film will be followed by a panel discussion featuring North Carolina’s LGBT elected officials–including Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, Town Council member Lee Storrow, Alderman Damon Seils, and State Representative Marcus Brandon.

You can watch the trailer online at


Chapel Hill Tire Car Care Center just completed a successful canned food drive, collecting nearly 1,000 cans of food for the IFC by offering customers a $10 discount on oil changes if they brought in four cans of food.

IFC officials say those cans will be used to help about 450 different families in the area.

To learn how you can donate, visit


Chatham Habitat for Humanity is teaming up with the MassMutual Life Insurance Company to give away free $50,000 term life insurance policies to benefit children of working families in Pittsboro.

You are eligible to apply if you’re a permanent legal U.S. resident of good health between the ages of 19 and 42, with a total family income between $10,000 and $40,000, and a parent or legal guardian of a child under 18.

You can apply at a one-day public event on Saturday, March 8, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Chatham Habitat for Humanity office at 467 West Street in Pittsboro.


You’re invited to explore the history of Hillsborough on Saturday, March 8, with a one-hour guided walking tour hosted by the Alliance of Historic Hillsborough.

The tour begins at 11:00 a.m. at the Hillsborough Visitors Center and winds through the center of the Piedmont’s oldest town, visiting schoolhouses, old homes and cemeteries along the way.

Tickets are $5 per person; children under 12 are free.

Mayor K Asks To Sever Ties With Anti-LGBT Russia

CHAPEL HILL – Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, together with Council Member Lee Storrow, is asking the council to approve dissolving the relationship with sister-city Saratov, Russia.

“Some of them would have LGBT people erased from the planet,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says. “Now we have to decide, what’s the best way to help create that change.”

***Listen to the Interview***

*Part 1*

*Part 2*

The Russian government has illegalized propaganda of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) people or “nontraditional sexual relations around minors.”

The law was signed last week and eliminated discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear it. The law has been condemned by many, including rights groups in Russian and internationally saying it’s highly discriminatory.

“When we’re talking about a country whose legislature unanimously passed these bills and there has been an international outcry against this—the closest analogy was the international outcry against apartheid in South Africa, for example,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says. “Not that these two issues are the same. But, I think what you have here is a country that’s decided something that the rest of the world thinks is improper, and we need to figure out how to handle it. In that instance, it was about isolating South Africa. I think in this instance on LGBT issues, it’s about isolating Russia.”

Mayor Kleinschmidt says the sister-city relationship hasn’t really meant anything in the past decade or so. He said it’s never even come up in all his time on the Council dating back to 2001 and that this act can serve as a strong statement.

The relationship was formed after the Cold War when, as Mayor Kleinschmidt describes, similarities were realized.

“It was about understanding that there were human beings living in towns and cities that were just like us and that the Cold War politics—it was a different kind of experience, you know, that was a national, geo-political conflict—but at the bottom of it, at the end of the day, they were ordinary people, trying to make a living and taking care of their families,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says.

He says now it’s become clear just who those people are.

Mayor Kleinschmidt says if he were to visit Chapel Hill’s sister-city now, he’s concerned for how he’d be received.

“If the headline is, ‘here comes Chapel Hill’s mayor with his gay boyfriend’ am I going to be arrested for propagandizing in Russia?” Mayor Kleinschmidt asks. “Because my understanding is that might just be enough.”

He says he hopes the Council will swiftly act on the resolution he and Storrow presented.

“I’d like to get it done on the ninth of September in the consent agenda and move right on,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says.


Statement from Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Council Member Lee Storrow on Chapel Hill’s Sister City Relationship with Saratov Russia
As openly LGBT politicians, the visuals and news stories coming out of Russia since the enactment of Russia’s new anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) law banning “homosexual propaganda” have been heartbreaking.  
Innocent individuals and families face persecution, violence and detainment for expressing themselves openly and non-violently in the public square.  These laws are deplorable and do nothing but create hardship, suffering, and in some cases death, for innocent people.  
It is in light of these laws that we will be petitioning the Chapel Hill Town Council to sever our Sister City Relationship with Saratov, Russia.

Created decades ago, the relationship has been inactive as long as we have served on Council.  The Town of Chapel Hill currently has no communication or active relationship with Saratov, Russia, and due to the enactment of Russia’s anti-LGBT policies, we see no reason to keep the relationship even in name.

We hope soon Russian society – as well as all societies foreign and domestic- will recognize that LGBT people deserve equal protection and freedom under the law.  The law Russian’s passed against LGBT citizens is a law designed to address a problem that does not exist.  LGBT citizens in all societies represent a great source of talent and value, able to contribute immeasurably to the betterment of a nation and a people.  Until Russian society is able to come to this basic truth, we see no ability to move forward in a productive sister city relationship with a Russian city or town.