Editorial: PLAYING TO FEAR AND PREJUDICE: McCrory & Legislature do the wrong thing for wrong reasons

Posted March 30
Updated July 7

Gov. Pat McCrory talks to reporters on March 28, 2016.

Gov. Pat McCrory and the General Assembly have made discrimination the law of the land and that is wrong.

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A CBC Editorial: Thursday, March 24, 2016; Editorial# 8009
The following editorial is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company.

Wrong. It is that simple. The legislation the General Assembly passed in its whirlwind emergency session Wednesday purports to codify a statewide non-discrimination policy in employment and accommodation. It does not.

What it does, is send a loud and clarion message that North Carolina employers have license to restrict services, refuse to hire, or fire, anyone based on gender identity and sexual preference. That is wrong. It makes North Carolina weaker.

“This will make it clear it is not against the law anywhere in North Carolina to discriminate on the basis of sex,” said Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake.

North Carolina’s county and city officials, who are best positioned to make decisions on how to effectively serve their residents and businesses, and make their communities grow, have been unwisely diminished. It will cost jobs and hinder economic development. Gov. Pat McCrory, who spent 14 years as Charlotte’s mayor, should know better than to sign this misguided legislation. Instead, he picked expediency over integrity. The city he worked so hard to build -- and has been (with the Triangle) the state ’s economic engine since the recession – will suffer.

Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, D-Wake, said he’s worried about the impact of the bill. “I’m frightened for that kind of fallout in North Carolina when you look at what 21st century companies start looking like. We’re a state that celebrates intolerance. … As we debate this bill there already Fortune 500 companies that have expressed their grave concerns and very strong opposition,” Blue said.

Senate President ProTem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, in his remarks, laid bare his motives -- playing to ignorant fears, blind prejudice and suspicion of those whose difference he may not understand and doesn’t accept.

“We are here today for 2 reasons: One because the city of Charlotte decided to pass an ordinance that allows grown men to share bathrooms and locker rooms with girls and women,” he said, making the unstated, but clearly prejudicial assumption that ALL transgender or homosexual people are predators.

It was also an opportunity for a partisan potshot in the race for governor where Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, is challenging incumbent Republican Gov. McCrory.

“Our attorney general would not do his job,” Berger said. “He should have filed a court case to enjoin the adoption or implementation of this (Charlotte) ordinance.” At the same time the state Republican Party was distributing a video attacking Cooper for not acting against the ordinance.

Is a sound bite in an attack ad, stoking fears and prejudices, worth jeopardizing North Carolina’s economy? Do we elevate our people by stomping on the rights of those we may not understand? The obvious answer is no. The hope is that in the not too distant future, if the courts don’t act first, there will be the opportunity to repeal this misguided and hurtful law.