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While individuals and groups across the nation emotionally debate NC House Bill 2 (HB2), the so-called “Bathroom Bill,” they are largely missing the point. The stipulation that people must use multi-use bathrooms that align with their “biological sex,” which is focused on preventing transgender individuals from using bathrooms of the gender with which they identify, is media fodder and an easy emotion-provoker on both sides.

But where one eliminates is the least of our worries with this bill.

I am not a constitutional lawyer, but a close lay-reading of the actual bill illuminates a larger agenda. Here’s what’s in the bill:

  • Multi-use bathrooms in schools and public agencies must be used based on a person’s biological sex (sections 1.2 and 1.3)
  • Local government may not regulate compensation of employees (wage and salary, benefits, time off, etc.) that supercedes (is stronger, or higher than) state law. That means cities may not require a “living wage,” or, presumably, more maternity or paternity leave (section 2.1).
  • Local governments may not require a contractor to have certain extra regulations as part of a bid. I believe that is a set-up for allowing businesses to not serve people based on the so-called “religious freedom” idea (section 2.2).
  • Rights to employment and to access to public accommodations (i.e. anywhere the public can go, like businesses) are protected from discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex or handicap. Neither sexual orientation or gender identification are included. And, this law would prohibit municipalities from enacting any law which is in conflict with this one. That means, no making a stronger, more-inclusive local law (sections 3.1 and 3.3).

So, the Republican-dominated legislature – a party that ironically claims to embrace small government, and most definitely does not want federal intrusion into state business – is sending intrusive mandates to its own municipalities, disallowing them to provide any more protections than the state declares right.

In this bill, discrimination is the target, allowing it against the LGBTQ community in particular. Earlier actions by this same legislature stepped into local governing bodies in Buncombe County, Greensboro and Charlotte, among others, changing their structure with no regard to the wishes of the communities. It has worked to remove control of airports and water systems from local entities, and set up the same restrictions on environmental controls as it has just done to discrimination. In short, the legislature is micro-managing, trying to prevent the progressive, inclusive movement.

At this point, I believe Governor McCrory and his partners are just trying to save face in the media storm with their stubborn refusal to change the law. But even if they acquiesce on the bathroom stipulation, they will have set in place much more dangerous rulings that weaken our municipalities’ ability to make rules that make sense for them.

Add to this their illogical redrawing of districts, and it is clear they have an agenda and have let their newfound power go to their heads. We need to think hard about who to vote into our state government this fall.

Linda Tatsapaugh is a resident of Black Mountain.

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