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North Carolina State Government Makes Discrimination Mandatory

On Wednesday, the state of North Carolina passed what is being called the most extreme and discriminatory law against the LGBT community in the entire nation, by overturning local ordinances protecting gay and transgender rights.

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In a surprise late session, the North Carolina state legislature introduced HB-2, and just hours later, without public debate, it was signed into law by Republican Governor Pat McCrory.

Democratic Senator Jeff Jackson took to Facebook prior to the bill passing to express dire concern over the consequences of the bill.

“If it becomes law, it means any business in the state can refuse service to any LGBT person — even by just posting a sign that says, ‘No Gays Allowed.’ It is much broader than last year's much-debated Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which at least required a ‘sincerely held religious belief’ to refuse service. This includes no such requirement. Discriminate at will,” Jackson wrote.

Jackson explained that it was being pushed through as quickly as possible, calling it a “bait-and-switch,” and writing that no one was allowed to see it until the committee met. He said that legislators were given five minutes to read it, and that it was quickly passed before being debated on the House floor. It then worked its way through each required branch of state government in a single day.

"Rather than expand nondiscrimination laws to protect all North Carolinians, the General Assembly instead spent $42,000 to rush through an extreme bill that undoes all local nondiscrimination laws and specifically excludes gay and transgender people from legal protections," detailed Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina, in a statement.

The law was in response to a nondiscrimination ordinance adopted in the city of Charlotte, allowing people to use toilets that match with their gender identity. The new law requires all public places to discriminate against transgender people and takes away the rights of gays to sue an employer or business for discrimination. The state law stipulates that cities cannot legally protect their LGBT residents through the use of local legislation.

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“All school and public bathrooms must discriminate against transgender people; discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity must be legal across the state and no local law can say otherwise; and even if the state’s Human Relations Commission finds that an individual was a victim of discrimination, the victim cannot then sue the employer or business that discriminated. Completely irrelevant to LGBT people, any city that wants to do better by their workforce would be limited to the policies set by the state,” Zack Ford wrote for Think Progress.

The only classes protected from discrimination by the state are now race, color, national origin and birth gender.

"We witnessed an affront to democracy," Democratic Senator Dan Blue of Raleigh, the minority leader, told the Charlotte Observer. "We will not be silent."

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