April 13, 2016

Anti-LGBT bills move southern states backwards

By Bethany Stacy–

Last summer, the United States made a huge stride toward equality for the LGBT community when the Supreme Court declared the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. LGBT people and their allies all over the country rejoiced as gay marriage was finally legalized. Hope at last.

Fast forward to now and it seems like many conservative states are trying hard to reverse the progress.

During the months following this historic decision, we saw stubborn individuals with local power like county clerk Kim Davis (who unfortunately just has to be from Kentucky) attempt to reject it. Davis and others like her refused to do their jobs based on their religious beliefs because, you know, personal beliefs are above the law, apparently.

But this was just a small bump in the road, as she was jailed for breaking the law and forced to comply, setting an example for others who thought they could challenge the federal government and win.

The problem is that now we are seeing far too many states introduce bills that would allow for much discrimination against LGBT citizens, particularly those who are transgender, and would strip them of legal protection.

Republican lawmakers in South Dakota introduced such a bill, but it was thankfully vetoed by Governor Dennis Daugaard. Georgia came dangerously close to passing an anti-LGBT bill as well, but Governor Nathan Deal also decided to veto after the heavy backlash the state faced because of it.

In fact, the backlash didn’t only come from the hurt LGBT community. It came from massive forces in the entertainment industry who could have a serious impact on Georgia’s economy. Disney and Marvel vowed to boycott the state if the law was passed. Likewise, AMC’s incredibly popular show “The Walking Dead”, which regularly films in Georgia, would pull out and film somewhere else. Even the NFL got involved, saying that if the law was enacted, Atlanta would lose its eligibility to host any future Super Bowls because LGBT discrimination would not be tolerated.

While Governor Deal’s veto was a small win, another state managed to make it seem like a loss. North Carolina’s governor quietly and quickly signed what many people are considering the most anti-LGBT bill in the country into law while all of the attention was on Georgia. 

Not only does HB2 essentially ban any public entity in the state from extending legal protections to LGBT people, it also “bans transgender people from using restrooms that match their gender unless they’ve managed to change their birth certificate, and prevents civil suits from being filed in state court even when discrimination is documented by the already-poorly-funded Human Rights Commission.”

Why do we always insist on taking two steps back with every step forward? It makes absolutely no sense and benefits no one.

How does the sexuality or gender expression of an LGBT person affect the life of a non-LGBT person? How does actively discriminating against them benefit anyone else besides serving as their justification for being a bigoted a**hole?

I’ll never be able to wrap my head around that, just like people who are supportive of anti-LGBT laws will probably never understand how hypocritical they sound by supporting the infringement of other people’s rights while simultaneously yelling about their freedom when it comes to things like guns.

Thankfully, backlash is even stronger against North Carolina, which will hopefully put pressure on the state to strike down the law. Many are boycotting and refusing to travel to the state. On a higher scale, over 90 major corporations have called for Governor Pat McCrory and North Carolina lawmakers to repeal HB2, including Apple, YouTube, Bank of America, Facebook, Microsoft, and American Airlines.

It’s important to realize that this discriminatory law doesn’t just have an effect on North Carolina’s LGBT community; it also puts schools and businesses in an inherently tough situation by forcing them to choose between adhering to federal law and risking losing federal funding by adhering to this conflicting state law. So again, it benefits no one except those who value religion over welfare. 

A federal lawsuit has already been filed and backed by the ACLU on the grounds that HB2 not only violates the 14th amendment right to equal protection, but Title IX as well.

Hopefully this law will soon be struck down and will set a precedent for other states that are introducing similar laws.

America should and can be above this kind of discrimination.

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