The book of Genesis teaches that"B'tzelem Elohim - in the image of God, human beings were created." Yet once again, a full year after North Carolina became nationally known for its discriminatory nature, our State has created unjust legislation that fails to acknowledge the dignity and equality of all human beings and provide protections for them.
HB2 purposefully and intentionally limited rights and protections for North Carolinians, in particular, LGBTQ people. HB142 does little to nothing to remedy that. Calling HB142 a “successful compromise” ignores the harms that HB2 wrought and glosses over the reality that HB142 puts North Carolinians LGBTQ people and other minorities, in a worse place than before Charlotte passed its 2016 non-discrimination ordinance. Before the Charlotte ordinance there were no explicit protections in place but there were also no limitations on cities and towns passing local anti discrimination policies (like many cities and towns around the country). Under HB142, there are no protections and cities are prohibited from passing any type of anti discrimination measures.
What HB2 did away with and what HB142 prevents from happening until 2020 is passage of local measures that would prohibit businesses in Charlotte from discriminating against gay, lesbian or transgender customers. Race, religion, age and gender are otherwise protected "classes." But LGBTQ people aren't and are thus left vulnerable and outside of legal protection. So, if a business -- or taxi for example -- refused to serve an LGBT customer, there is no legal recourse.
While efforts by elected officials to find common ground should be applauded, HB142 does not go far enough. It prevents local municipalities from expanding protections for marginalized communities until 2020. How many years must one wait for justice? Is the goal justice or does the number of years reflect the political cycle of the current Governor?
The prophet Amos cried out, "Thus says God: For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed."
Our state legislature has exchanged justice for business and basketball. This is not who we should be. This is not the path we should walk as a state. It is worker protections, trans rights and the freedom of municipalities to expand justice today. Who will it be tomorrow?
May righteousness return as we demand that our legislators return to the table to create laws that protect all North Carolinians from discrimination.
Repeal HB2 in its entirety. The nation and God are watching.
The Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice