By ARIANA APOSTOL
On March 23, the North Carolina legislature passed a law “banning anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and requiring transgender people in government buildings and public schools to use bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates,” as stated by the New York Times. Since the passage of this law, companies including PayPal and the NFL have pulled out of deals with the state – and rightfully so.
This law came after the local government of Charlotte (a major city in North Carolina) passed a measure protecting LGBT people from being discriminated against by businesses. The state legislature, in order to keep the local measure from passing, met and took twelve hours to come up with a new ordinance which “declared nondiscrimination ‘an issue of general, statewide concern,’ and stated that ‘local jurisdictions cannot craft their own nondiscrimination measures.’”
The law bans discrimination on the grounds of race, biological gender, religion and national origin, but not for sexual orientation or gender identity. The most controversial part of the law is its aforementioned “bathroom” policy. This puts transgender people across North Carolina at risk for facing discrimination or being outed as transgender simply by using the restroom.
In response to the law’s passage, PayPal cancelled a plan to build an operations center in North Carolina that would have brought 400 jobs to the state. Bruce Springsteen, also in protest, cancelled a concert scheduled for the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina and released a statement: “To my mind, [the law is] an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress.”
However, individual and corporate responses may still not be enough to encourage North Carolina’s government to repeal the law, as similar laws have been passed in Alabama and Kentucky, reported the Washington Post. In addition to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law, Mississippi’s governor also recently signed into effect a far-reaching piece of legislation allowing people with religious convictions to refuse service to gay couples.
This law is unacceptable, as sexual orientation and gender are as inherent to a person as eye color, and just as discriminating against eye color would be absurd, so too is discriminating against those of different sexual orientations. It is not the government’s place to decide that LGBT people cannot choose the bathroom that they use or that it is acceptable for a homophobic cake-store owner to deny a wedding cake to a gay couple – it is unethical and it is unconstitutional.
Legal discrimination against LGBT people is absolutely ridiculous. Opposition to the rights of the LGBT community stems primarily from people’s religious beliefs, which often regard homosexuality and differences between gender identity and biological sex as unacceptable.
However, with the separation of church and state, these concerns should not play any role in whether or not people should be protected from discrimination. The fact that this is not common sense to some Americans is appalling.