Feeling Like a Heel from the Tarheel State

9433240014_ca71f51844_z

9433240014_ca71f51844_zMore and more often – I find myself saying to strangers while traveling in other states, “I’m from North Carolina” and getting a look that prompts me to say – “yeah, that state. I’m sorry.”

I feel the need to apologize for the state I live in. It has nothing to do with the beauty, activities, people, and everything to do with its politics.

HB2 is a hot topic again this week after yet another event – in this case the NCAA Championship – pulled out of the state because of our policies of discrimination. The NCAA, NBA and countless concerts and conventions are hitting the state where it hurts – it’s pocket book. Talking in terms of dollars and cents lets us pour a little baking soda on the passionate flames of debate and try to bring folks on board who may have a religiously rooted issue with the LGBTQ community.

It’s a great tactic to get folks from both sides of the aisle involved, and straight out of the Political Strategy 101 Playbook, but let’s be clear. Sure, we’re losing money – billions if you account for economic loss and what we’re spending to defend this law – but we’re losing money because the law is unconstitutional and discriminatory. The events and concerts are pulling out of North Carolina because organizers can’t engage with a state with policies like ours. Some of them are moving elsewhere because HB2 brings up a myriad of issues that may drag that organization into the courts right along with the Tarheel State.

I firmly believe that at some point the economic hits will become too much for the state to bear. Lawmakers’ speaking out in support of the legislation will have their resolve weaken when some of their comrades don’t return after the November election, or they’re left browsing the Want Ads themselves. The Federal Courts will lay down a firm opinion declaring HB2 unconstitutional, and all of this will be a big fat waste of time and money.

The law will go away eventually, but the sentiments that drove some of our lawmakers to pass such an abomination of 21st Century logic still exist in our society. It comes down to educating our fellow citizens and helping them understand that gender identity is a very personal and complicated matter. Transgender people brave enough to declare their true self have already endured internal turmoil, and forcing them into a restroom of the opposite gender with which they identify is cruel. By the way I have yet to hear of a transgender person attacking someone in a bathroom (but plenty of instances of transgender folks being physically or verbally harassed). Maybe they’re the ones who need protection?

I had a friend pass through North Carolina on her way back from Florida this summer. She and her same-sex partner took extra care to gas up and eat before entering the state, and coasted on fumes until they hit the Virginia border – just so they wouldn’t have to spend any money or set foot in the state I live in. Their civic action had an impact on me. I would have loved to see them, but I understood and applauded them for their dedication – because let’s face it – we can do a mean barbecue and have awesome craft beer here.

Let’s open our doors instead of close them … Rome will not burn … and we can hold our heads high and maintain our state’s economic growth at the same time.

 




There is 1 comment

Add yours
  1. Laura Mason Altizer

    This last biennium with the General Assembly is the first time I have ever felt embarrassed to be from North Carolina. I mean I know folks have looked down on me because I’m from the South and I have a southern accent–that unfortunately goes with territory. But I knew they were wrong…before. Now I can’t say that and it’s embarrassing. I am embarrassed to wear my Home shirt outside of the state–although I’m hard headed enough to do it anyway because at least once people know me they realize there is another side. Hopefully this will all soon be history.


Post a new comment