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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

An open letter to Rep. Beverly Earle on HB2

My state legislators, Senator Joel Ford and Rep. Beverly Earle, at the International Paper CTA Charlotte Box plant

Dear Rep. Earle:

I am a constituent of yours. I vote. 

As a gay North Carolinian, it has disappointed me to be unable to find any public comment on your views of HB2 or the proposed replacements that are being passed off as repeal.

Your silence gives me the same impression I get from Senator Joel Ford: my rights simply aren't of much interest to you. 

I hope I am wrong.

All the proposed replacements for HB2, short of outright repeal, are bait-and-switch cons designed to auction LGBT citizens' rights off to get sports and business development back. 

The idea of bolting on a religious freedom element onto existing discriminatory law is especially obnoxious. Indiana has one of those. A woman there skated from criminal charges for beating her child black and blue because Jesus. A man is suing to not pay state taxes because God has spoken to him.

In my childhood, discrimination was overt: people put signs up to tell whose business they did not want. Nowadays conservative Christian groups say they are standing up for their beliefs but they want to do it anonymously and selectively- when they feel like someone might be gay, or some other disfavored group member.  They say they want freedom from government imposition on their beliefs by getting laws to allow them to impose their beliefs on others.

Nothing will impede equality in this state like being able to sue local government- and get damages and attorney fees- over extending equal rights; or, alternately, making anti-equality referenda so easy one conservative Charlotte-area megachurch can get enough signatures to make taxpayers pony up for it. 

I wonder how much thought has been given, among General Assembly members, to what it will be like, fighting ugly referendum campaigns city by city and county after county, across the state. 

I remember such fights. Anita Bryant led them against LGBT people across America in the 1970s.

As things stand, I am a stranger to the law and will remain one under the Republican HB2 "compromises." The only solution is to vote for a clean and complete repeal. Republicans will just have to get over themselves.

As a thought experiment, which of your rights are you willing to let Speaker Moore's caucus put to public vote?

It is time to speak up, Rep. Earle.

I hope my trust that you will do the right thing for ALL your constituents will not prove misplaced.

Sincerely yours,

Lindsay Thompson

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