Opinion

Critics Of NC Action Against Charlotte Bathroom Ordinance Distort Reality

On Monday three individuals and a pair of activist groups sued officials of the State of North Carolina, after Gov. Pat McCrory and the General Assembly passed legislation that overturned a Charlotte ordinance that forced businesses to provide for transgender persons to use public rest rooms and locker rooms of their chosen sex.

“By singling out LGBT people for disfavored treatment and explicitly writing discrimination against transgender people into state law,” the lawsuit stated, “(the new law) violates the most basic guarantees of equal treatment and the U.S. Constitution.”

As legislative members who sponsored and supported the bill’s passage in a special session last week, we maintain that nothing could be further from the truth than what this ill-conceived lawsuit alleges. Moreover, had the Charlotte ordinance stood, far more individuals would have found their privacy violated in facilities than would have allegedly transgendered individuals.

In February, the Charlotte City Council adopted an ordinance that created a right for persons who identify (or choose to express themselves) as members of the opposite sex. This included the right to access locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms and other facilities normally reserved for members of the opposite biological sex. In addition, the city’s elected officials mandated that all private businesses that serve the public to abide by its expanded nondiscrimination policy, to include gender identity and gender expression.

The city’s actions were problematic on many levels. First, the city passed an ordinance that was clearly outside of its powers as a local government. Under its constitution, the State of North Carolina grants cities and counties specific powers, and they have no powers outside of ones that are delegated by state government. This separation of powers is very important, as some matters specific to a local community are better decided at a local level, while others may require statewide uniformity.

If the City of Charlotte thought it was good government to allow individuals – who “identify” with the opposite sex – an ability to enter into the opposite bathroom and violate the rights of privacy of others, then they should have suggested that legislation be introduced by the North Carolina General Assembly. Instead council members decided to trample on the rule of law and the privacy rights of the vast majority of citizens.

The lawsuit filed on Monday furthers the media’s and the Left’s deception about the ordinance reversal. Besides the ACLU-North Carolina and homosexual rights group Equality North Carolina, the plaintiffs include two alleged transgender individuals, and a lesbian dean at the North Carolina Central University School of Law.

As for the two who claim to be transgender, the complaint states that they are each “a man” whose “sex assigned at birth was female.” They assert that being forced to use rest rooms and locker rooms based upon their birth certificate gender would cause them to “experience significant anxiety” and “cause substantial harm to [their] mental health and well-being.” Of course, they demonstrate no regard or concern for the well being or sense of security of the millions who would have been forced to share bathroom facilities with members of the opposite sex.

With regard to the lesbian law professor in the suit, she – along with her “wife” – are said to have lost “their sense of belonging and value in the state” and worry that they “will now be exposed to discrimination based on their sexual orientation.”

That misses the point of the law passed by state lawmakers last week. For example, regardless of biological sex, under the Charlotte ordinance, a man could have simply “identified” or chosen to “express” himself as the opposite sex, and he would have had the “right” to fully access a facility established to provide privacy for women, without legal ramifications. Allegations that lawmakers were accusing all transgenders of being molesters were red herrings. The danger of the ordinance was that those of the opposite sex would have legally protected access to private facilities by simply asserting their gender identity status, whatever the motive.

To clarify the limits of local authority, we adopted a new, statewide policy against discrimination in public accommodations, to parallel an existing statement of policy against employment discrimination. Both policies embrace all of the protected classes that have been recognized under state law and Charlotte’s prior ordinance, including race, color, religion, national origin and sex. Our protections are aligned with, and slightly broader than, federal protections.

Our bill accomplished two things. It restored common sense privacy rights in bathrooms and locker rooms. And it clarified the limits of authority of cities and counties over anti- discrimination regulation, without creating an onerous hodgepodge of regulations across localities for private businesses.

Chris Millis represents the 16th District in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Dan Bishop represents the 104th District in the NC House of Representatives, a portion of which includes Charlotte.