Did the North Carolina legislature do the right thing by refusing to repeal HB2 after the Charlotte City Council voted 9-0 to repeal the controversial bill that started the whole firestorm? Or did the Republican-led NC Senate miss a great opportunity to remove the stigma surrounding the state and do a major reset? When all things are considered, these legislators did the only thing they could do if they were to be faithful to their convictions and their conscience.
Before I explain why, allow me to give a brief recap.
Recap: How North Carolina Got HB2
In February, 2016, the Charlotte City Council voted 7-4 to enact radical LGBT legislation that would have in effect prohibited genuinely separate male and female restrooms. And they did this despite “more than 250,000 emails, more than 20,000 petition signatures, the opposition of more than 200 local business, community, and faith leaders, and the strong disapproval voiced by the overwhelming number of the 140 people who testified before the council prior to the vote.”
In response to this far-reaching “LGBT Non-Discrimination” bill, and before it could take effect, the state passed HB2, stopping the bill in its tracks and, for the most part, simply putting things back to the way they were before Charlotte’s rash actions. And Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill into law. (For simplicity’s sake, I’m focusing here on the most controversial aspects of both bills, first that of the city of the Charlotte, then of the state of North Carolina.)
Recalling the Nationwide Backlash Against HB2
The backlash against HB2 was immediate, intense, and unrelenting, with PayPal deciding not to move into Charlotte, the NBA pulling the 2017 All-Star game and the NCAA pulling its state championship events, and celebrities like Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr cancelling appearances in the state, costing North Carolina millions.
Gov. McCrory came under unrelenting assault for supporting HB2, while his Attorney General Roy Cooper, who was himself running for governor, strongly opposed HB2 and became the darling of LGBT activists.
Then, in September, Gov. McCrory stated that if the Charlotte City Council would drop its bill, HB2 could be repealed, offering a state-wide reset, but the City Council, with strong support from pro-LGBT activist Mayor Jennifer Roberts, refused to repeal their bill.
On the political front, the battle between McCrory and Cooper was neck and neck, with Cooper holding a small lead most of the time, even before the passage of HB2, and McCrory dogged by two other issues, one having to do with a proposed toll road and the other having to do with Duke Energy.
In the end, Cooper barely defeated McCrory, despite outspending him roughly two-to-one, with the help of major backing by wealthy gay activists and leftwing organizations like the Human Rights Campaign. And, I was informed, some local pundits suggested that without either the toll road controversy or the Duke Energy controversy, McCrory would have stayed in office, let alone if he had received equal funding for his campaign. So, despite the spin being put on McCrory’s loss, this was not a statewide rejection of HB2, as the Republicans, who passed HB2, retained their super-majority in both state houses.
Instead, this was a targeted strategy by LGBT activists and their allies to remove McCrory and make North Carolina an example. In that sense, the state was ground zero in a larger national campaign.
Now, with Roy Cooper about to assume office, the same Charlotte City Council that refused to vote on a repeal of their bill back in September miraculously changed their tune, voting 9-0 to repeal their bill with the understanding that the state would then repeal HB2.
“Let’s have a reset and go back to the way things were before,” they seemed to be saying.
Why then didn’t the state legislators jump at this opportunity to remove the reproach of being boycotted and shunned?
I can best explain that by reminding you of Aesop’s fable about the scorpion and the frog, which goes like this.
Analogy: The Scorpion and the Frog
A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”
The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”
Replies the scorpion: “I’m a scorpion. It’s in my nature. …”
Now, I am not comparing LGBT activists and their allies to scorpions (or conservatives to frogs), but I am making a point about people and groups acting in accordance with their nature.
The fact is, this had nothing to do with a reset, nor were groups like the HRC saying, “OK. We’ll stop pushing our bills if you stop pushing yours.” If that had been the case, they would have repealed their bill back in September, under Gov. McCrory’s leadership, rather than refusing to act until he had been removed.
No, this was the HRC and the City Council and the incoming governor saying, “We’ll give you an excuse to remove your oppressive HB2 so we can now come at you with a flood of new bills in cities across North Carolina, bills just as radical as the Charlotte bill that started all this. It’s what we do. It’s our nature.”
Of course, LGBT activists and their allies will say in response, “This is not about our ‘nature.’ This is about what’s right. This is about equality. This is about fairness. This is about non-discrimination.”
I certainly understand that perspective, but that only underscores my point.
Mayor Roberts and her radical council members are not about to retreat from their larger goals, nor is the HRC, nor is Governor-elect Cooper. In fact, on December 19, the HRC issued this urgent notice: “North Carolina General Assembly Must Immediately Repeal HB2.” And the HRC stated up front that, “City leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to passing comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people after HB2’s repeal.”
Roy Cooper himself said,“Full repeal [of HB2] will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state” — and note that these “strong LGBT protections” were the very things which HB2 was preventing, since these alleged “protections” were actually direct attacks on religious freedoms along with unwanted intrusions into private places like bathrooms and locker rooms.
To return to the scorpion and frog analogy, in this case, the scorpion was telling the frog up front that it was going to bite him. Why then, would the frog give the scorpion a ride? Why remove HB2 if, within a matter of months, there would be bills passed in city after city in North Carolina which would only multiply what HB2 was put in place to stop?
“No Thanks,” Says the Frog
It is truly unfortunate that North Carolina has been stigmatized and bullied by the cultural elitists — although, from what I understand, the state economy continues to thrive — and it is a shame that the city of Charlotte has engaged in such a dangerous game of political football. It’s also tragic that many in the LGBT community in North Carolina feel rejected and unsafe although, the truth be told, things were basically fine statewide before Charlotte started on its ill-advised activist course.
But the heart of the matter was expressed by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who posted this on his Facebook page:
Charlotte repealed an ordinance that the General Assembly already voided months ago. I support HB2 and do not favor its repeal. No economic, political or ideological pressure can convince me that what is wrong is right. It will always be wrong for men to have access to women’s showers and bathrooms. If HB2 is repealed, there will be nothing on the books to prevent another city or county to take us down this path again. The left has already publicly stated the removal of HB2 is necessary for the rest of their agenda to move forward. With certainty, if HB2 is repealed, we will fight this battle all over again with another city or county. The names will change, but the national groups who are pushing this agenda will not stop until their social engineering is accomplished. The only thing stopping them are those of us who continue to stand strong.
Yes, “The left has already publicly stated the removal of HB2 is necessary for the rest of their agenda to move forward,” and people of conscience throughout the state have said, “Not on our watch.”
Where things will go in the months and years ahead is uncertain, but what happened this week in North Carolina makes perfect sense: A scorpion asks a frog for a ride across the stream but tells him it will bite him along the way, and the frog said, “No thanks.”