For some North Carolinians, the fight over HB2 is far from over
15-year-old Lily Maclachlan says she sees her transgender friends struggle with inclusion every day in school. Even at a young age, she understands North Carolinian legislation like anti-LGBTQ House Bill 2, which prohibits transgender individuals to use the restroom according to their gender identity, are the root of the problem.
“It is honestly disgusting,” said Lily. “I never thought we would sink to this level.”
Lily and her mother, Jennifer Snowhite, live in Winston-Salem. They have been fighting this legislation with groups like Equality North Carolina ever since the emergency one day legislative session in March where Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill into law.
Although the bill has been criticized and revisited multiple times by lawmakers, no changes have been made.
“It’s so hurtful to an already delicate population,” said Snowhite. “An already discriminated and bullied against population, it makes me fighting mad.”
Fighting mad-enough that she’s joined other concerned citizens in the streets in protests against the legislation.
Snowhite, like many North Carolinian voters, refuses to support the bill. According to a poll done by SurveyUSA and a Raleigh local news station shows 38 percent of locals support the new law and more than half said the law has hurt North Carolina’s image nationally.
Members of the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina and Lambda Legal are fighting against the legislation by filing a federal lawsuit. The organizations are representing six LGBT individuals and the ACLU of North Carolina in the lawsuit.
I disagree w/ what Obama, ACLU & AG Cooper have done to force schools to allow boys & girls to share restrooms.https://t.co/FNqhmhNS7y
— Pat McCrory (@PatMcCroryNC) April 19, 2016
In May, ACLU and Lambda Legal filed a preliminary injunction in order to ask the court to block parts of HB 2 into going into effect until the case in heard in federal court.
“We are asking the court to suspend the provisions which block transgender people from using public facilities that match their gender identity as we argue the case in court.” said Mike Meno, Communications Director for the ACLU North Carolina. “This is causing some real harm right now and our clients shouldn’t have to wait for the case to fully play out in court until they have relief from this discriminatory law. “
There will be a hearing on August 1st in Winston-Salem to decide whether or not to block the provisions.
On July 1st, North Carolina legislators ended their session with small changes to HB2, but none affect the discrimination of the LGBTQ community. The changes made to the bill would restore an individual’s right to bring discrimination cases back into court, a right that was taken away from all North Carolinians during the initial passing of the bill.
The changes made to the bill did not address discrimination against LGBTQ individuals.
“They went home without fixing the damage caused by this hateful law.” said Meno.
While conservatives believed the changes were significant, the ACLU of NC thinks otherwise. They said the changes made altered the amount of time to file a claim after the loss of job to a year rather than original three years.
“First of all, that does not affect House Bill 2. It did nothing to repeal the anti-LGBT part of the law,” said Meno. “But it also doesn’t bring that right to where it was pre-HB2, because now people how a much smaller window to claim.”
North Carolina legislators are not scheduled to reconvene until January.
Multiple business and celebrities like PayPal, Ringo Starr, and Bruce Springsteen have put pressure on the state of North Carolina to retract the bill by moving their business and performances out of the state. Most recently the NBA threatened to move the location of it’s All-Star game outside of the state unless changes were made to the bill.
In response to the pressure, three months after the original bill was passed, legislators drafted a new bill which would allow transgender individuals to obtain a “gender reassignment certificate” which would allow them to use the appropriate bathroom.
Many people and organizations, including the ACLU and the NBA, were unsatisfied with the redraft of the bill and the revision did not pass.
In addition to loss of business, tourism has taken a major hit by HB2. Many state governors in four different states: New York, Minnesota, Vermont and Washington have banned unnecessary and state-paid travel to North Carolina.
Recently, The University of Albany supported Governor Cuomo’s (D-NY) decision to ban travel to North Carolina by cancelling the opening game of their basketball season with Duke University.
“While Governor Cuomo has initiated a ridiculous boycott of our state, thousands of his citizens continue to move out of New York and now call North Carolina home,” Gov. McCrory said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Millions of dollars of misleading, taxpayer-subsidized commercials nor an executive will not stop this exodus. Governor Cuomo, our North Carolina borders are open and our citizens are hospitable. Play ball!”
The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau reported Wake County, a county that covers the city of Raleigh and 11 other municipalities, has already lost about $40 million due to loss of tourism because of HB2.
HB2 could also face some major changes after the gubernatorial election this November. The race is split between republican Governor McCrory, a long time supporter of HB2 and signed the bill into law, and his opponent democrat Attorney General Roy Cooper. Cooper, according to North Carolina’s media WRAL, called the new law a “national embarrassment”.
And while disapproval of the law might be high, and McCrory’s ratings dropped some in the spring when the bill was passed, it now seems to be effecting the race less and less. According to a Huffington Post poll, the governor election is neck to neck showing either Cooper and McCrory winning within the margin of error.
Although the fate of HB2, and its effect on the election, is unclear, for citizens like Snowhite this November means hope for a more accepting Tarheel State.
“I would like to see the whole thing go away because we have a brand new state government.” said Snowhite.
The North Carolina governor cited costs of litigation, noting that his state is also the defendant in a lawsuit filed against him by the Dept. of Justice on similar grounds.September 19, 2016
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