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Don’s Blog: HB2 and the NCAA and ACC

Cary, NC – Cary has been in the news a lot over the last week. Unfortunately it hasn’t been good news. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve surely heard about the NCAA’s decision to eliminate seven championship games from North Carolina in protest of HB2. The majority of these events were to be held in Cary.

ncaa-baseball

Cary is – or was – an NCAA Championship City and has hosted 24 NCAA Championship tournaments since 2003 generating millions in economic impact to our town and the region. But truth be told, we’d probably host these events regardless of the economic impact – it’s what we do and who we are. Amateur sports has always been a big part of Cary.

I always looked forward to hearing from student athletes and their families regarding their experiences here in Cary. Win or lose, they always had wonderful things to say about their visit and Cary’s hospitality. Families of student athletes from many of our area universities also appreciated having the tournaments so close to home so that the whole family could participate.

At present, it appears that Cary’s chances of hosting any future NCAA tournament events is slim at best.

Student athletes, their families and our community is paying the price for something they had absolutely nothing to do with. This stinks.

So how did we get here?

House Bill 2 (HB2) was a direct response to the City of Charlotte’s “Bathroom Bill”. It is bad legislation in response to bad legislation.

Little has been reported about what exactly the City of Charlotte’s law actually did. In my opinion, Charlotte’s ordinance was a solution in search of a problem as I honestly have no idea what actual problem Charlotte was trying to solve.

Most people think that Charlotte’s ordinance simply allowed transgender people to use the restroom, locker and shower facilities of the gender they identify with.

Yes and no.

First off – and this is important if you believe in separation of powers – Charlotte knowingly exceeded their constitutional authority when they passed their ordinance. Cities are creatures of the state and only allowed to do that which the state allows them to do. The regulation of anti-discriminatory laws are a state and federal responsibility, not a municipal one. Charlotte ignored repeated warnings by the state and passed their ordinance anyway.

Charlotte’s ordinance allowed transgender folks to use the restroom, locker room and shower facilities of the gender they identify with and required that private businesses provide accommodations. But the manner in which the law was written allowed anyone who “identified” or “expressed” themselves as the opposite sex the “right” to use restroom, locker room and shower facilities of the opposite sex. The latter is what concerns people – including me.

Now no one is afraid of the legit transgender and why would they be? No transgender has ever raped, assaulted or spied on anyone in a restroom that I am aware of. I actually know a few – they are good people. And quite frankly nor do I think most guys would care if a woman came in the men’s room either. But unfortunately we do live in a world where evil exists and we have a lot of sick people out there who might feel empowered by this law to dress up like a woman and go hang out in the ladies room knowing they would have legally protected access.

Yes, we already have laws against assault, rape and voyeurism; and yes, people could disguise themselves and enter restroom facilities of the opposite sex regardless of Charlotte’s ordinance. But unless one could demonstrate illegal activity, they would have every right to be there under Charlotte’s ordinance.

The bottom line is that people have a right to privacy and security in bathroom, locker room and shower facilities.

Now the NCGA basically had two choices to respond to Charlotte’s ordinance. They could sue them which would take years and cost a fortune – especially considering we haven’t really had an Attorney General for quite some time – or they could convene a special session and handle the matter themselves…or so they thought.

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Now I’m no lawyer, but what I still don’t understand is why the General Assembly couldn’t have simply legislated Charlotte’s ordinance out of existence, clarified any and all anti-discriminatory matters to be a state issue and gone home. Heck, they take away our municipal authority all of the time – why was this any different? But that would have been too simple I guess. I mean, these are politicians we’re talking about.

HB2 actually does allow transgender individuals to use the restroom facilities of the gender they identify with…..IF they changed their birth certificate to reflect their new gender. Ya, like that’s not difficult or anything. Driver’s licenses could have been a bit more reasonable but still….

And if a non-transgender is found in the wrong restroom for the wrong reasons, what exactly is the punishment? Why is there no penalty associated with HB2? Or are they leaving it up to the folks that caught the sick bastard(s) to drag him out and beat the crap out of him? I mean, if that’s the case I’m cool with that, just don’t punish the good guys when it happens.

One can make the argument that HB2 discriminates against the transgender community. But contrary to what many folks believe, nothing in HB2 specifically discriminates against the gay community. HB2 is actually all-inclusive in its discrimination as it eliminates every North Carolina citizen’s rights to sue for discrimination in state court. I have yet to hear one legitimate argument as to how this benefits North Carolina citizens.

And the NCGA couldn’t stop there. They also included legislation prohibiting municipalities from setting their own minimum wage levels – which isn’t really a bad idea as this should be a statewide standard, but they felt the need to include this in anti-discriminatory/discriminatory legislation? Really?

This is the kind of crap that happens when lawmakers craft complicated legislation in such a short period of time without citizen input and adequate study. Sadly Republicans and Democrats were actually working on a compromise a couple of months ago until a certain candidate for Governor killed that idea. Nice.

So what should be done?

“IF” Charlotte and the NCGA genuinely care about the impact that this is having on our state, BOTH Charlotte and the NCGA should agree to eliminate BOTH laws, start over and work together to come up with something that both sides can be satisfied with and works for our state.

Personally I’d like to see both laws eliminated and be done with it. Like I said earlier, I’m not sure what problem they are trying to solve, or if government should even be a part of the solution.

In the meantime I am sure that both sides will continue to use this issue as a political football further degrading our great state and reputation in the hopes of winning a political campaign or two and everyone else will continue to suffer for it. Oh how I long for the days when grown-ups were in charge…


From the blog of Don Frantz, Member of the Cary Town Council District B. Photos by Michael Papich, Hal Goodtree and Kate Ter Haar.

6 replies
  1. Perry K. Woods
    Perry K. Woods says:

    There is a simple legal solution. Mass is doing something like this. Give DA’s discretion to determine if someone is utilizing gender identity for an ‘improper purpose’. That would prevent the over the top nightmare legal fig leaf argument.

    Reply
  2. Mark
    Mark says:

    Don. Thanks for the well written article, but I do feel compelled to make a few points. I suspect you will agree with most of them, but who knows.

    First, you state that you can’t fathom why Charlotte felt the need to pass their ordinance. You’re overlooking the primary function of the ordinance: marketing. I live in San Francisco. Nearly all of my friends work in tech, at the very companies that Charlotte (and every other city on the planet) are trying to lure. Like it or not the South does not have a very good reputation with many of these folk. They see the South as culturally backward, racist, bigoted – take your pick. Charlotte passed their ordinance, at least in large part, as a marketing strategy. It was a big shining beacon screaming “we’re progressive too! Please, pretty please locate your next data center here rather than San Francisco, New York, Boston etc.” And if you don’t believe me, take a look at the brochures cities send to Facebook, Google and the like when they try to lure their investment. I’ve seen dozens of them. The first two pages, without fail, are dedicated to proving that the petitioning city is culturally progressive, compatible with the workers that they want to hire or relocate: being LGBT friendly is the foremost indicator of the culture and atmosphere they’re trying to sell. I think you know this, but no one seems to mention it.

    Also, you skate right by the fact that HB2 also eliminated any and all discrimination protections for LGBT individuals. Try as I might, I can’t see how “bathroom safety” necessitates allowing a business to fire someone for being gay, or deny them service for being gay. Several NC municipalities had such protections. HB2 eliminated them all (and prohibited new, local protections in the future). It’s hard to see that as anything but anti-LGBT. If you can explain that one to me I’m all ears.

    Reply
  3. Liz Ryan
    Liz Ryan says:

    Thanks, Don for an informative, well-stated piece. I’ve referred radio station KCRW LA to it, after a really lazy piece of reporting on HB2
    Liz

    Reply

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