Dear North Carolina,
It’s come to my attention that you’re having trouble understanding why the gays are still upset over HB142.
Let me try to clear up some of that confusion.
Let’s rewind a year. Even before House Bill 2 passed, you were one of the most anti-LGBT states in the country. You were the last state in the union to ban gay marriage, you’d been dragged kicking and screaming into equality, and even after the Supreme Court struck you down you passed a “magistrate recusal” law protecting folks who’d never had a problem marrying atheists, heathens, divorcees, adulterers, and insurance scammers, but suddenly grew a moral conscience when two dudes walked through the door.
So even then, North Carolina, we weren’t too thrilled with you.
But House Bill 2 – hoo boy, now that was a whole new ball game. (By the way, you should just assume the pun is always intended.) Of course the “bathroom” stuff got the most press, and it should have. You called it “common sense” – you used that phrase so much I started hearing it in my sleep – but the truth is, of all the fifty states, you were the only one that banned transgender people from using restrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity.
You were the only one.
And that was just the beginning. You’d never made it illegal to discriminate against LGBT people, but until HB2 you did at least allow cities and counties to do so. With HB2, that changed. You banned local governments from protecting LGBT people from discrimination. You wiped out all the local ordinances that already existed. You made it legal to discriminate against us, everywhere. Do you know how many other states do that? Two. Arkansas and Tennessee. Twenty states ban discrimination at the state level, 27 states allow local governments to do it – and then there’s Arkansas and Tennessee. And you.
You were so bad, entire states disavowed you. The entertainment industry shunned you. Families canceled their travel plans. Investors decided they didn’t want your money. Even the NBA and the NCAA wanted nothing to do with you. Do you realize how homophobic you have to be to make the sports leagues back away?
You were the worst, North Carolina. Unquestionably, indisputably, incontrovertibly the worst.
It was tough going there for a while.
But all that is in the past, you say. HB2 is gone. It’s HB142 now. Bygones are bygones, right? It’s a whole new world.
Except it’s not a whole new world.
I mean, you’re right about one thing: with HB142, you’re no longer the only state in the country that bans trans people from using the right bathroom. Instead, there’s no official policy at all, which makes for a ton of confusion but puts us right in line with 48 other states. (Washington explicitly allows trans people to use the restroom in accordance with their gender identity; they’re also the only one.) And HB142 restores existing local nondiscrimination ordinances – though of course that doesn’t help Charlotte much, since you duped them into repealing theirs back in December.
Is it a step in the right direction? Yeah. It’s a step in the right direction. It took the entire country to force you into it, it took $3.76 billion in lost revenue, it took the NCAA shaming you into action – and again, man, how far do you have to fall to lose the moral high ground to the NCAA?! – but it’s a step in the right direction. We’re a little further from the abyss.
But you wouldn’t back down, North Carolina. You wouldn’t just do the right thing.
HB142 puts a moratorium on new local anti-discrimination laws. Three years and eight months we have to live with this. From now through December 1, 2020, we’re stuck in last place with Arkansas and Tennessee, the only states that won’t let their cities protect their own residents. And let’s face it – December 1, 2020, is a date that’s written in pencil. You can erase it whenever you like. You can extend that moratorium as long as you want. Five years. Ten years. Forever. You’ve got a veto-proof Republican majority in both houses, and districts gerrymandered to keep it that way. We know the score.
You did exactly the minimum amount necessary to appease Credit Suisse and the NCAA, and not one iota more.
You don’t give a crap about us. You made that perfectly clear on Thursday. For the umpteenth time.
So here we are with HB142. And magistrate recusal. And don’t think we’ve forgotten Amendment One, still hanging like dead skin in your constitution, waiting there just in case the Supreme Court decides to reverse itself some day.
What happened on Thursday?
You went from being the worst…to being arguably the worst.
You were in last place all by yourself, and now you’re in a three-way tie.
And that, you waved around in our faces like you were giving us the world. Like we ought to be falling to our knees and weeping in gratitude.
That’s what happened. That’s why we’re upset. That’s why we’re still fighting.
North Carolina, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.
All the best,
(PS: Still a Tar Heel fan, though. See you at the bar on Saturday.)