A powerful backlash to the ill-advised and hastily approved public restroom law in North Carolina unfortunately did not prevent an attempt at similar legislation in South Carolina, embodied in Senate bill 1203. Before a Senate committee heard testimony last week, opponents mobilized.
State Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg, chief sponsor of S 1203, claims to have concern about the safety of women in restrooms. Following that reasoning, women using public toilets are vulnerable to potential attacks from men posing as women – or pretending to be transgenders. That illustrates distressing unenlightment, but Bright adds, “If a (small percentage) of the population wants to be something that a majority of the population thinks is strange and abnormal, that’s their business. You can’t force people to accept something like that.” Accept what? That human rights apply to everyone?
Intellectually, Bright appears to have been on another planet – Mars, perhaps? – or paying no attention to the equality and civil rights issues at stake. Sen. Marlon Kimpson of Charleston alluded to the intrusive aspect of enforcement. “We’re going to have the Lee Bright genitalia patrol for bathrooms in South Carolina.”
Like the now-maligned N.C. law, S 1203 would invalidate municipal ordinances, including those in Myrtle Beach, Columbia and Charleston, that protect lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgenders from discrimination. Members of the LGBT community need protection from discrimination, not protection from a nontransgender lady from Little River. It’s the transgender high school or college student who needs protection from his or her peers, not the other way around, as suggested in the email blast sent last week by the Palmetto Family Council: “Protect Our Children in Restrooms and Showers.” The Palmetto Family Council, based in Columbia, organized testimony in support of S 1203.
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“Bright’s bathroom bill would, if passed, make transgender students feel unsafe at school, said Greg Green, a 32-year-old transgender man who runs a support group for transgender people at his Columbia church,” Jamie Self and Andrew Shain of The State newspaper reported in The Sun News. “What it causes really is a lot of anxiety. My concern is the outing,” Green said.
Reaction to HB2 continued in North Carolina. Gov. Pat McCrory signed an executive order he said expanded protection for gay or transgender state employees. Attorney general Roy Cooper, who is McCrory’s re-election opponent, said the “executive order is a day late and a veto short.” (Mark Berman in The Washington Post.) Deutsche Bank announced the law caused the firm to put off plans to add 250 jobs in an expansion at its software application center in Cary.
PayPal earlier backed off from an announced expansion. Other major companies such as Apple, Google and American Airlines, have criticized the law. The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau reported more event cancellations. Bruce Springsteen cancelled a Greensboro concert. The NBA All-Star game may not be in Charlotte, as scheduled. The N.C. law clearly is bad for business, creating many economic hardships.
Many in South Carolina, including Gov. Nikki Haley, are aware of the problems from the N.C. law and know S 1203 will create the same here. There is reason for optimism that Bright’s bill will not advance in the General Assembly, and we hope that will be the outcome for this discriminatory proposal.
N.C. legislator sees HB2 as the right thing
N.C. House Majority Leader Mike Hager defends the state’s new HB2 law that has been widely criticized as discriminatory and an economic nightmare.
“There’s not a price for doing the right thing. My first role in office is protecting citizens, not how much business we can get,” Hager, R-Rutherfordton, told The State.
In addition to South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi are considering similar legislation and this shows “it’s good policy,” Hager said. All 50 states having ill-advised, discriminatory laws would not make make them good policy. Appropriate public policy depends on the intent and purpose of laws – not how many states have similar laws.