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Wednesday, 05 April 2017 16:10

One small step toward ending discrimination

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North Carolina and its citizens are better off with HB2’s repeal. It’s a giant step forward, and despite criticism from the right and the left, I am glad we have at least moved the ball closer to the endzone.

HB2 was an embarrassment, a bad joke whose punchlines kept North Carolina in the crosshairs of pundits and comedians. The bill was morally wrong.

Oh, and in addition to the moral bankruptcy it symbolized, it was also a bad business deal for North Carolina. Enlightened entrepreneurs and industrial leaders viewed it as a “do not enter NC” albatross. Remember PayPal was the first to back out of its commitment to build a 400-employee facility near Charlotte. A recent Associated Press report put the state’s financial losses from the bill at $3.7 billion.

There is still work to do. Even with the repeal, people can still be fired for being gay or transgender. In this day and age that is unacceptable. The new law prevents localities from passing any anti-discrimination ordinances until 2020. Discriminating against someone because of their sexuality should be illegal. Imagine anyone supporting a similar law if it targeted a race or religion.

But it does do away with the whole bathroom portion of the bill, that insidious mandate that if someone is using a government restroom it must correlate to the sex on their birth certificate. The whole argument here from HB2 supporters that they wanted to keep men out of women’s restrooms was totally a straw man, a way of avoiding the real issue — that HB2 supporters do not support the rights of transgender people.    

There’s little doubt that the compromise legislation was passed more out of a concern for the state’s economy than its gay or transgender citizens. Legislative leaders and Gov. Roy Cooper both want this state’s economy to continue its comeback, and so this imperfect and flawed bill is the result.

Many of Gov. Cooper’s supporters are up in arms over the bill’s ban on anti-discrimination ordinances. To listen to them, it seems some would rather keep the HB2 status quo and use it for political bantering rather than accept the compromise.

On the other side, the “boys must be boys and girls must be girls” crowd is up in arms. Many of them won’t be happy until we have police at every bathroom inspecting people’s privates. Please.

So we inch forward in this once-progressive state, leaving behind the bathroom bill but refusing to ban discrimination based on sexuality. It’s called a compromise, and it will work as a temporary fix. Stay tuned.

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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