Opinion: HB2 ‘Changes’? Oh, Stop

Leaked draft 'revisions' to House Bill 2 mean next to nothing

“This is nothing more than HB 2.0,” Chad Griffin, president of the LGBT advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign, said this afternoon, in reference to draft revisions of North Carolina’s House Bill 2. “Anyone who cares about equality must reject this ridiculous proposal. This despicable bill would continue insidious policies targeting LGBTQ people for discrimination and do nothing to fix the mess HB2 created. It’s past time for North Carolina lawmakers to listen to the overwhelming chorus of voices from across North Carolina and around the country calling for full repeal of this hateful law.”

Ridiculous, despicable, insidious, hateful—that covers roughly a quarter of the available damning adjectives, leaving out such options as “odious,” “barbaric,” “contemptible,” and “mulish.” I realize that not-one-step-back stridency is the tone of choice for LGBT advocates on such matters, but Griffin’s condemnation in this case seems like overkill. A more proportionate response would have been a mocking, “Oh, puh-leeze.”

The proposed changes, reported by WBTV this afternoon, are just silly. Breaking them down in detail would be a waste of time, but here are the “highlights”:

  • A seeming restoration of the right to file discrimination claims in state courts, which the existing House Bill 2 forbids—except that the “change” still routes state claims through the toothless and understaffed state Human Relations Commission.
  • Adoption of federal anti-discrimination language to replace the state’s, with one crucial caveat: “provided that designating or requiring use of multiple or single-occupancy bathrooms or changing facilities according to biological sex … shall not be deemed to constitute discrimination.” This is no change at all.
  • The doozy: a process by which someone who has had gender reassignment surgery can apply for a “certificate of sex reassignment”—the draft language actually contains that phrase—from the State Registrar’s office. This is apparently in response to complaints from people who generally don’t carry their birth certificates around with them. So, no bother—just make sure you have your certificate of sex reassignment. Why not a rainbow-hued Star of David patch that transgender people can wear on their outer garments?
  • Establishment of an “Anti-Discrimination Task Force” by—ha!—the Senate Pro Tem and House Speaker, the same two gentlemen who publicly accused Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts of conspiring with a child sexual predator to allow men to use girls’ locker rooms and restrooms. Part of me really wants to see this task force in action, if only for the entertainment value.

The draft legislation throws a legitimate bone, strengthening penalties for sex crimes where people change and use the bathroom. But the real other party in the negotiation, WBTV reports, isn’t the people of North Carolina but the NBA, which plans its all-star game for Charlotte in February. It’s a one-time event.

What’s worse for the LGBT community than feeling they’ve been targeted by a state legislature? Seeing themselves as a penny ante in a game of Go Fish between the legislature and a professional sports league. “Ridiculous” isn’t the only word for it, but it’ll do until we find a better one.

Categories: The Buzz