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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

In Shocking Action, North Carolina Legislature Passes Anti-Trans Bill in Under 9 Hours

[UPDATE: Gov. Pat McCrory has signed the bill into law.]

Today was a sad and shameful day in Raleigh.

I joined transgender North Carolinians and our allies in the state capitol to stand against a bill that was set to barrel through the legislature in a one-day special session. We huddled in the hallways and prepped for testimony, having only found out the text of the bill in the morning, and not knowing whether or not the legislature would listen to any of us.

The bill, introduced this morning, hijacks local governments’ power to govern their cities and villainizes LGBT people, especially trans North Carolinians. The legislature used Charlotte’s ordinance as an excuse to pass a sweeping anti-LGBT bill, which limits trans students’ ability to use the restroom at school, as well as all trans people in public buildings.

We fought hard to make our case. Trans North Carolinians and their families made powerful and emotional appeals to fairness, equality, and common sense. But most of the legislators’ minds were already made up—and those who questioned its goals or unintended effects had little chance to mount a debate.

Legislative leaders have talked about overturning Charlotte’s ordinance all month, but the bill did way more than just that. It creates new requirements forcing anyone using public buildings, including trans students in public schools and colleges, into the wrong restrooms. It takes away local governments’ power to pass any public accommodation nondiscrimination policies, regardless of whether they affect restrooms. And it prohibits local governments from regulating workplace conditions, like wages and work hours, or the wellbeing of minors in the workplace. This bill doesn’t only affect LGBT people. For example, the bill overturns local nondiscrimination protections for veterans from nondiscrimination in public accommodations.

As numerous legislators who voted “no” said today, they were simply not ready to understand the far-reaching consequences of this bill. But instead of giving legislators and the public the time to carefully consider this bill, its supporters rushed through the legislative process in a matter of hours. In sharp contrast with the careful deliberation before the Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance was passed—an open debate that spanned over a year, including in a city-wide election—members of the House Judiciary Committee were given only five minutes to review the bill before launching into debate. Legislators had no time to consult with their constituents or research the impact of this law. And few members of the North Carolina public even had the chance to hear what the bill said before it passed into law. Sexual assault survivors and advocates, major businesses, and labor unions have all spoken out against this law, but today their voices were ignored. We prepared many trans people and allies to speak at the hearings, but unfortunately, only a handful were able to speak.

This hasty process is not what democracy looks like. By running roughshod over the democratic process, legislators did a serious disservice not just to trans and LGBT people, but all residents of North Carolina.

We have been working hand-in-hand with state advocates and other national organizations to stop this bill from becoming law. We will all continue to fight this hateful bill until it is defeated. We will continue to elevate the voices of fair-minded North Carolinians to persuade Governor McCrory to do the right thing and use his veto pen. He has 30 days to do so.

Please sign this petition right now and urge the Governor to meet with transgender people and their loved ones, and to veto this catastrophic bill.

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