We have remained largely silent on last week’s General Assembly meeting, and passage of what some are calling an anti-LGBT protection bill, because we wanted to wait until some of the dust settled before taking a stand on the new law. As anyone who has followed the actions of the General Assembly over the past six years knows, laws coming from the legislature’s actions often bear little resemblance to what the lawmakers said they would do beforehand, and the full scope of those actions often take some time to trickle out.
This new legislation is an appalling example.
The legislators met a week ago, in special session, ostensibly to consider a measure that would prevent local governments from passing ordinances such as the one recently approved by the Charlotte city council. There, city leaders enacted a law that allows individuals to use public restrooms based on the gender a person “identifies” with.
This Charlotte ordinance was a ridiculous attempt at being pro-LGBT at the expense of more than 90 percent of the rest of society, and we think it was a bad law.
We did criticize the state legislature’s plan to meet in closed session because we felt that the General Assembly, even in overturning a bad local law, was engaging in legislative overreach, meddling — again — in what should strictly be a local matter.
Boy, if that were the only thing the General Assembly did last week.
What the legislators did was enact one of the most backwards, anti-nearly everything law, that we’ve seen in many years. Do you believe the new law is about bathroom equity? Think again.
Here are a few of the things the new law does:
– Prevents local governments from setting a local minimum wage higher than $7.25 an hour (we’re still trying to figure out what this has to do with the Charlotte bathroom ordinance);
– Prevents local governments from requiring contractors bidding on public work to pay more than $7.25 an hour, and prevents local governments from requiring such contracts to offer basic benefits such as sick leave to its employees;
– Bans, by statue, any discrimination lawsuit in state court alleging a business has discriminated against a person on the basis of race, age, gender, disability, or sexual orientation. In other words, if you’re fired, demoted, or otherwise discriminated against because you’re a woman, you’re too old, you’re a minority, you’re in a wheel chair — whatever the case may be — that discriminatory practice is now protected (encouraged, some might say) by state code. You can’t sue in state court as a result of such discrimination.
– Institutes a statewide law that bans public discrimination against individuals based on “race, religion, color, national origin or biological sex,” but notably excludes sexual orientation. In other words, discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals now appears legal in North Carolina.
While we consider this bill shocking and appalling, it shouldn’t really be surprising in a state that has increasingly become hostile to the poor, minorities, and everyone else that doesn’t fit the right-wing conservative, financially secure model.
As we’ve said in the past, if you’re not rich, white, and heterosexual, North Carolina really has no need for you. Perhaps that should become the state motto.