Breaking News of March 24, 2016
See Business and Community Reaction … Plan to attend a Meeting in Raleigh tonight:
North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory Signed Worst Anti-LGBT Bill in the United States after it passed both Houses of the N.C. Legislature, that are dominated by a majority of Republicans
- North Carolina Republican Legislators proposed & passed Legislation to Limit Bathroom Use by Birth Gender … N.C. House Bill 2
- N.C. Senate Democrats walked out in protest … “This is a direct affront to equality, civil rights and local autonomy,” the Senate Democratic leader, Dan Blue, said in a statement.
- Now, with this newly passed Legislation, N.C. cities, towns and counties can’t pass anti-discrimination rules beyond this new N.C. State standard. And N.C. public schools, public college campuses and government agencies must require bathrooms or locker rooms be designated for use only by people based on their biological sex.
- Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, tried to amend the bill so it included gays and lesbians among the protected groups, as well as veterans, but the Republican majority voted to table that suggestion. The North Carolina bill also doesn’t include disabled people among the groups protected from discrimination.
Raleigh – Pat McCrory tonight proved that he does not have the best interest of all North Carolina residents in mind. He signed the worst anti-GLBT Legislation in the entire United States. The bill, designated as N.C. House Bill 2, titled the “Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act” was signed late Wednesday night. which earlier, 3/23/2016, passed both the N.C. House and N.C. Senate, tears away at the fabric of my community by overturning and preempting vital protections for gay and transgender people that have been previously approved by several of North Carolina Cities and Counties. Governor McCrory goes back on his word again by signing legislation coming out of an expensive and unnecessary special N.C. Legislative session. McCrory’s office confirmed he signed the law late Wednesday night, hours after the legislature finalized the bill in a one-day work session.
Red Hat, Biogen, Dow Chemical, and others have spoken in opposition and that’s only the beginning of the impact on the business community here in North Carolina. Unfortunately, this likely means the state will have to spend more money on a lawsuit because of misguided or illegal legislation. It’s an embarrassment for the Old North State.
North Carolina’s Republican majority legislators, in both the N.C. House and N.C. Senate, in a whirlwind special session on Wednesday, March 23, 2016, passed a wide-ranging bill banning transgender people from bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates.
The North Carolina House passed the bill Wednesday afternoon, 83-25. The Senate just two hours later took up the legislation. Within 45 minutes, Democratic Senators staged a walkout, angered their attempts to debate the legislation and perhaps even reshape it were rebuffed by Republicans eager to pass it. With no Democrats voting, it passed unanimously minutes later, 32-0.
Republicans unanimously proposed and supported N.C. House Bill 2, while in the N.C. Senate, Democrats walked out in protest. “This is a direct affront to equality, civil rights and local autonomy,” the Senate Democratic leader, Dan Blue, said in a statement.
A spokesman for North Carolina’s governor, Pat McCrory, said the governor was expected to sign the bill immediately.
The session, which was abruptly convened by Republican lawmakers on Tuesday, came in response to an antidiscrimination ordinance approved by the state’s largest city, Charlotte, last month. That ordinance provided protections based on sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity, including letting transgender people use the public bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
The N.C. House Bill 2, was put together so quickly that many lawmakers had not seen it before it was introduced Wednesday morning, specifically bars people in North Carolina from using bathrooms that do not match their birth gender, and goes further to prohibit municipalities from creating their own antidiscrimination policies. Instead, it creates a statewide antidiscrimination policy — one that does not include gay and transgender people. The bill also prohibits local governments from raising minimum wage levels above the state level — something a number of left-leaning cities in other states have done.
Though transgender access to bathrooms has touched off a national debate, in recent weeks actions have appeared to turn in favor of that access. Earlier this month, South Dakota’s Republican governor vetoed a bill banning access passed by conservative legislators. A similar bill failed in Tennessee this week.
“North Carolina has gone against the trend,” said Sarah Preston, the executive director for the North Carolina office of the American Civil Liberties Union. “And they crafted a bill that was more extreme than others. They specifically left gays, lesbians and the transgender community out of the anti-discrimination policy. They want to make it plain that they think that kind of discrimination is O.K.”
Republicans stressed that the bill was passed not just to protect women and children from unwanted and potentially dangerous intrusions by biological males, but also to clarify legislative authority. On the House floor, Representative Dan Bishop, a Republican who sponsored the bill, described Charlotte’s decision to enact an antidiscrimination measure as an “egregious overreach” by Charlotte’s City Council and mayor. With the state bill, he said, “What we are doing is preserving a sense of privacy people have long expected.”
Some large firms in the state, many of which have policies allowing transgender access to bathrooms, opposed the new bill. Dow Chemical, a major employer in the state, called the bill an “attempt to undermine equality.”
In often emotional testimony on Wednesday before the bill was passed, those opposing transgender access described the issue as one of safety. Chloe Jefferson, a junior at Greenville Christian Academy, said letting biological males into women’s bathrooms would expose girls to sexual predators, adding, “Girls like me should never be made to shower and undress in front of boys.”
Madeleine Gause, a transgender woman who grew up in the small town of Hickory, where as a boy she was often bullied in the bathroom, told lawmakers that forcing transgender women to use the men’s room posed its own risks. “I can’t use the men’s room. I won’t go back. It is unsafe for me,” she said. “And it freaks people out when I go to the men’s room. Would you want to go to the men’s room with me?”
She added that the fears of sexual predators were overblown.
“People aren’t getting raped and murdered,” she said. “They are just going to the bathroom.”
Reaction Across North Carolina:
- Jim Whitehurst, President and CEO of Red Hat: “At #RedHat we strongly value diversity: http://red.ht/1MCUERn . HB#2 is a clear step backwards. Sad day. #WeAreNotThis”
- Biogen: “Biogen opposes #NCGA attempt to undermine equality in NC via #HB2. We support advancing the power of differencehttp://bit.ly/1OUt95u”
- Dow Public Policy: Dow opposes #NCGA attempt to undermine equality in Charlotte. Let’s focus on policies that make #NC stronger and more competitive. – KK
- NCAA: .@NCAA decries NC leg discriminatory effort: ‘We expect all to be treated w/respect in cities that host our events’
NC ACLU weighs in:
“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,” said Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina. “The manner in which legislators passed the most extreme anti-LGBT bill in the nation – voting hours after it was unveiled without adequate public debate – flies in the face of fairness and democracy. Legislators have gone out of their way to stigmatize and marginalize transgender North Carolinians by pushing ugly and fundamentally untrue stereotypes that are based on fear and ignorance and not supported by the experiences of more than 200 cities with these protections. Transgender men are men; transgender women are women. They deserve to use the appropriate restroom in peace, just like everyone else.”
Campaign for Southern Equality Executive Director Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara:
“Transgender youth and adults live in every town across North Carolina and we are committed to ensuring they are treated with equality, dignity and respect. We especially want to speak to transgender youth today, who are hearing terrible messages from our elected officials in Raleigh.”
“What is true is this: you’re beautiful, you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, you are not alone, and if you need support, there are people here to help.”
Kimberly Reynolds, Executive Director, North Carolina Democratic Party:
“Today, our state legislature began a special session, called by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and Speaker Tim Moore and costing North Carolina taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars each day, for the express purpose of tearing down anti-discrimination measures enacted by the Charlotte City Council and writing discrimination against LGBT North Carolinians into law.”
“This is egregiously wasteful spending that, if the legislature is successful in its mission, will drive businesses and jobs out of our state and embarrass us on a national level. But beyond the very real economic consequences this would have, it’s just plain wrong.”
“What our leaders in Raleigh are saying with this special session is that North Carolina is a-okay with hateful discrimination — worse, that we’ll go to bat to protect its perpetrators, not its victims. They’re saying that our LGBT brothers and sisters don’t have a home here, don’t have leaders they can rely on to look out for their best interests.”
“Well, I’m just not okay with that. In my North Carolina, we don’t discriminate. We welcome, we help, we embrace, we accept. And in my North Carolina, we speak out when we see folks like Dan Forest and Tim Moore spreading hateful rhetoric. So will you add your name next to mine and call out Republicans in Raleigh right now?”
“I hope your North Carolina is a lot like mine — a place we’re proud to call home, a place where we stand up to the bullies, and a place where we come together to make our voices heard.”
John Burns, Wake County Commissioner
“Local governments would be prohibited from even requiring nondiscriminatory practices among their own contractors. “The draft bans use of single sex multi-use bathrooms unless your birth certificate says you’re the sex on the door,” said Burns in a Facebook post. “Who’s going to check birth certificates?”
“I don’t think the #ncga truly understands what it is about to unleash on the image, economy, and good name of the State of North Carolina.”
“The North Carolina legislature should be focusing on creating jobs and expanding opportunity for everyone, not engaging in legislative bullying that hurts kids and families and harms the public image of the state,” McBride added. “If legislators are so concerned about public safety, they should be taking the $42000 a day they are spending on this special session and put it towards actual violence-prevention efforts.”
Ryan Butler, President, LGBT Democrats of North Carolina:
“We are all totally disgusted at the Republicans in Raleigh after what they’ve done today. I am writing to let all of you know that, although we may have lost this battle, we’re going to win this fight. I know several groups are looking at litigation strategies as we speak, to stop this unconstitutional bill the Republicans have passed in the General Assembly.”
“The Republicans’ actions are so egregious, they’ve once again caught the attention of the entire nation. I’ve been working with the Democratic National Committee today, as they have been tracking the issue. Please find a copy below of a press release being issued tonight by the DNC.”
Rally In Raleigh:
Also, Thursday, March 24, 2016, Equality NC, HRC, and the ACLU of North Carolina will hold a ‘Rally in Raleigh’ to address the drastic actions taken by the North Carolina General Assembly to discriminate against LGBT people in North Carolina:
‘Rally In Raleigh’ – Thursday, March 24, at 5:45PM, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, 3313 Wade Ave, Raleigh, NC 27607.” Click here for details
N.C. House Bill 2 raises uncertainty over recourse for discriminatory firing in NC
- Democrats raise concerns that bill would remove legal recourse for those wrongfully terminated
- Republicans say that wasn’t their intention
By Craig Jarvis and Colin Campbell for The News and Observer
RALEIGH – A provision in the North Carolina legislature’s House Bill 2 that would keep local governments from passing nondiscrimination ordinances has raised an unexpected concern – that it would eliminate a legal recourse for private sector employees who claim their firing was discriminatory.
North Carolina law allows employees to be fired for any reason, so long as the reason is not against the law or public policy. That isn’t part of a statute but has been part of common law for nearly four decades.
One sentence in the bill passed Wednesday says that no one could file a civil action based on the public policy outlined in the legislation.
Rep. Darren Jackson, a Wake County Democrat, pressed bill sponsor Rep. Dan Bishop, a Charlotte Republican, on that question during the House floor debate. Bishop said anyone still would have a right to file a federal action, which would be a more “robust” option.
But other Democrats echoed Jackson’s concern and said it was more difficult to make an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim than to sue under state law. Bishop acknowledged that the result could be fewer claims and fewer potential legal avenues.
Asked about that in a subsequent Senate committee hearing, Sen. Buck Newton, a Republican from Wilson, said the bill drafters didn’t intend to take away any current rights.
“Our intent was to keep the status quo and not create new right of action,” Newton said. “It doesn’t change anything currently in existing law that relates to the ability to bring a cause of action.”
Newton said others might have a different opinion.
Sen. Paul Lowe, a Democrat from Winston-Salem, unsuccessfully tried to remove that provision from the bill.
“There’s no recourse if a person is being discriminated against; they would have to automatically go to the federal level,” Lowe said. “I have a real problem with discrimination at any level.”
Newton added that the intention was to add language to help the bill pass.
“We felt like that would be problematic in trying to get support for this provision if we created a brand new way to sue,” he said.
In an interview Wednesday evening, Raleigh attorney Reagan Weaver, who has handled employment discrimination cases, said the provision seemed ill-advised.
The state’s equal employment act, established in 1977, applies to employers with 15 or more workers.
“It has been the public policy on which many claims of wrongful discharge have been prosecuted for approximately the last three decades,” Weaver said. “The provision of the bill being considered today appears to be trying to make a significant change in North Carolina tort law.”
Democrats cited the uncertainty as an example of the rushed nature of the legislation, which was drafted this week and given to the full House and Senate on Wednesday. GOP lawmakers were intent on getting the law on the books before Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance takes effect April 1, 2016.
- S. Census: Raleigh, Charlotte dominate NC growth
Two metro areas accounted for two-thirds of state’s population growth last year
Meanwhile, nearly half of the state’s counties lost population
Raleigh was the country’s 16th fastest growing metro area
In December 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that North Carolina’s population had topped 10 million last summer, growing by more than 102,000 in the year ending July 1, 2015.
Now the U.S. Census Bureau has released new numbers that show that more than two-thirds of that growth took place in the state’s two largest metropolitan areas – Raleigh and Charlotte – while large swaths of the state have lost population.
The populations of 48 of North Carolina’s 100 counties shrank in the year ending last July 1, continuing a trend that began with the 2009 recession and has not abated as the state and national economies have recovered.
The counties that have lost population are mostly rural, with the most severe losses in the northeastern part of the state. Northampton and Tyrrell counties have lost more than 7 percent of their populations since the 2010 census.
By contrast, nine counties have seen double-digit population growth since 2010, led by Brunswick County on the coast, at 13.6 percent. Three of those fast-growing counties – Wake, Durham and Chatham – are in the Raleigh metroplex area.
The Raleigh metro area – defined as Wake, Johnston and Franklin counties – was the 16th fastest growing metro area in the nation in the year ending last July 1, at 2.5 percent. With nearly 1.3 million residents, the Raleigh metro area is now the country’s 44th largest, leaping ahead of Richmond, Va., and New Orleans last year.
Despite their close proximity, Durham and Raleigh are considered separate metro areas by the U.S. Census Bureau since 2003, even as places like San Francisco-Oakland and New York-Newark are considered single metro areas. If Raleigh and the Durham-Chapel Hill metro areas were counted as one, it would contain more than 1.8 million residents and rank 37, just behind Nashville.
Here are other findings from the census report:
▪ The Census Bureau acknowledges that Wake’s population topped the 1 million mark sometime during the year ending last July 1, 2015. Wake County officials estimated that its 1 millionth resident arrived in August 2014 and celebrated the milestone then. The official census estimate for Wake County is 1,024,198.
▪ Wake County added 24,927 residents last year (2015), more than all but 18 other counties in the nation. Since 2010, Wake’s population has grown by 123,205, the equivalent of adding two Chapel Hills in five years.
▪ Durham County’s population has grown more than 11 percent since 2010 and topped 300,000 last year.
▪ Fed by new residents spilling over from the Raleigh area in the north and Fayetteville in the south, Harnett County has been the seventh fastest growing county in the state since 2010, at 10.7 percent. The county now has more than 128,000 residents.