Both Republican legislators who serve Surry County in the N.C. General Assembly are leveling criticisms in the wake of PayPal’s halting of plans to locate a facility in Charlotte because of recent legislative action affecting transgender people.
“It’s very hypocritical,” said Rep. Stevens of Mount Airy, whose 90th House District includes Surry and Wilkes counties.
Stevens said PayPal’s abandoning of plans for the Charlotte facility over the passage of a law in March restricting transgender use of public restrooms to one’s biological sex, overlooks the fact the online payments company operates in places much more hostile toward gays.
In some countries, homosexuals have been stoned and killed, according to Stevens.
House Bill-2, also known as the “bathroom bill,” was approved by state lawmakers and signed into law by the governor last month in response to a law passed in Charlotte earlier this year. It allowed transgender persons to use restroom facilities of the sex with which they identified.
That law prompted much concern about the possibility of abuse by sex perverts or others using it to gain unintended access to restrooms normally forbidden to them.
“That law was so poorly written,” Rep. Stevens, who is a longtime local attorney, said in defending its overturning by the General Assembly.
That was echoed in a statement issued Thursday by Sen. Shirley Randleman of Wilkes County, who represents Surry, Wilkes and Stokes counties in the 30th Senate District.
“Prior to the passage of the Charlotte ordinance, the council (there) was made aware of the public safety concerns and the fact that it violated existing state criminal laws regarding accommodation privacy and indecent exposure,” Randleman stated.
Stevens said one problem from a legal standpoint is that such a law places a difficult burden on the state to prove someone’s true intent when entering a facility designed for the opposite sex for the wrong reasons, if they don’t admit that.
She mentioned a case in Seattle in which a man went into a women’s locker room at a swimming pool and took off his clothes, citing his right to do so under a new transgender rule in Washington state. Nothing could be done by authorities in that situation due to lack of a specific protocol for how someone should demonstrate their gender in order to access a restroom.
Last month when meeting with transgender persons before HB-2 was passed, Stevens said an attempt was made by lawmakers to reach a compromise. It would have included single-door unisex restrooms being provided, which are used in schools.
Yet that compromise was rejected by the transgender individuals, who demanded full restroom access.
“It was their way or the highway,” Stevens said of that impasse which occurred despite legislators’ efforts to devise alternatives and work out differences.
“Now, the misinformation being spread by the proponents of the Charlotte ordinance is causing additional damage,” Sen. Randleman added of the backlash North Carolina has been receiving from elsewhere in the nation.
But, Randleman noted, “it was PayPal’s decision” to withdraw its expansion plan for Charlotte.
Stevens said in doing so, the company is penalizing the city that passed the pro-gay ordinance in the first place.
Since last month’s action in the N.C. General Assembly, there have been calls to repeal the state legislation, which Rep. Stevens and Sen. Randleman aren’t prompted to support.
“My position is still no,” Stevens said regarding the full restroom access idea, with an official of PayPal saying recently that the company would rescind its decision for the Charlotte facility if the new law were repealed.
“We don’t need to be doing anything that goes against our basic moral fiber,” Stevens said of possibly caving in to appease PayPal.
“I think we can do without them.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.