North Carolina LGBT Law Widely Rebuked

A quickly passed state law in North Carolina that effectively ends local antidiscrimination ordinances affecting the LGBT community has proved hugely controversial with advocacy groups, sports organizations, corporations, and trade groups.

A controversial bill that limits local governments in passing antidiscrimination laws affecting LGBT people has put the state of North Carolina in the crosshairs of both business and advocacy groups.

The bill—announced, passed, and signed by North Carolina’s legislative body and Gov. Pat McCrory during a single-day emergency legislative session this week—was timed to take effect before an anti-discrimination measure in the state’s largest city, Charlotte, could. The measure would have allowed transgender people to use restrooms that matched their gender identity—something that critics worry would allow for predatory behavior.

The measure has advocacy groups speaking up. The North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), for example, has suggested that it would join with its parent organization and with Lambda Legal and Equality North Carolina in exploring the possibility of a lawsuit against the law.

“Today was a devastating day for LGBT North Carolinians and particularly our transgender community members who have been subjected to months of distorted rhetoric culminating in today’s display of bias and ignorance by North Carolina lawmakers,” Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement. “We are disappointed that Governor McCrory did not do right by North Carolina’s families, communities, and businesses by vetoing this horribly discriminatory bill, but this will not be the last word.”

Businesses, Associations Speak Up

A number of businesses with interests in North Carolina, including IBM, Bank of America, PayPal, and Dow Chemical, have also spoken out against the law. American Airlines, which has a major hub in Charlotte, was also included on the list of critics.

“We believe no individual should be discriminated against because of gender identity or sexual orientation,” airline spokeswoman Katie Cody said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “Laws that allow such discrimination go against our fundamental belief of equality and are bad for the economies of the states in which they are enacted.”

The sports world is also reacting, with the NCAA and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, both of which host basketball tournament games in Charlotte, saying that they’re watching the situation closely. And the National Basketball Association, which has a team in Charlotte, has suggested that it may move the 2017 All-Star Game from the city due to the law.

“The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment to all who attend our games and events,” it said in a statement on Twitter.

Associations, including ASAE, have also released statements denouncing the law. “ASAE stands strongly in support of diversity and inclusion practices not only within the association sector, but in the various municipalities and states in which associations operate. We are deeply opposed to any laws that permit or even give the appearance of tolerating discrimination,” it said in a statement. “In addition to being regressive, these types of laws could also cause serious harm to the meetings and conventions business in any state that adopts them, creating an unwelcome environment for meeting planners and their attendees.”

Meanwhile, the Motion Picture Association of America, which had previously spoken out against a similar bill in Georgia that has yet to be signed by the governor, emphasized that its members are opposed to “any law that legitimizes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

The controversy around the law evokes the controversy which followed the passage of an ordinance in Indiana that led to a number of businesses and conferences threatening to pull out of the state. The law in that state was eventually clarified and rolled back.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the legislation Wednesday. (Mike Theiler/Reuters)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!