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NC’s new anti-LGBT law puts state in national spotlight

Nancy Pelosi on LGBT rights

Following a women's economic forum at UNC Charlotte Center City on Thursday, minority leader of the United State House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi responded to a reporter's question about the LGBT issue in North Carolina.
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Following a women's economic forum at UNC Charlotte Center City on Thursday, minority leader of the United State House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi responded to a reporter's question about the LGBT issue in North Carolina.

Even before Gov. Pat McCrory signed North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT legislation, critics and supporters nationwide were weighing in on its impact. Among them was the nation’s most famous transgender woman, Caitlyn Jenner.

Though a Republican, Jenner called out McCrory by name and encouraged people to use social media to oppose the “shameful” bill.

Coincidentally, one of the nation’s most powerful Democrats, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, was in Charlotte on Thursday for a women’s conference hosted by U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, a Democrat from Greensboro who represents the state’s 12th Congressional District.

Asked how the new law makes North Carolina look, Pelosi said the state appears to be “going against the tide of progress.”

“The tide of history is to expand freedom and end discrimination, and this is going in the opposite direction,” said Pelosi, noting the state’s tactics are further proof that Congress should act on an existing Equality Bill that would amend the Civil Rights Act to include protections for gays and lesbians.

“When we do that at the federal level, it will end discrimination in the entire country.”

A Washington Post headline suggested the bill could backfire on those who passed it: “How North Carolina’s controversial ‘bathroom bill’ could be a blessing in disguise for Democrats.” It also called the state “ground zero for an increasingly heated battle over gay rights.”

Calls for various boycotts have already begun, including a grass-roots push to get the NBA to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte.

The Nation, the country’s oldest weekly magazine, says NBA Commissioner Adam Silver could use this as a chance to lead by challenging “an ugly piece of discriminatory legislation.” The article went on to say the law empowers right wing small-business owners to legally discriminate.

“It also targets people for violence,” The Nation article said. “Unless the All Star-Game is moved, it will showcase Charlotte as a center of bigotry imposed tyrannically by the state capitol in Raleigh.”

Southern Evangelical Seminary President Richard Land says the vote was a hot topic among many Christians on Thursday. He was thrilled by the vote and believes state legislators are representing a lot of people who are frustrated, angry and feel the government is unresponsive to the will of voters.

Charlotte’s so-called “bathroom bill” was the spark that set them off, he says, and he thinks the governor would have a hard time getting re-elected had he not signed the bill.

Land also dismissed threats that businesses will abandon the state over the law.

“In North Carolina, we stand for traditional family values, and we’ll stand up for our right as citizens not to be put upon in this way,” Land said.

“If there are companies that want to try and blackmail us and try to impose their values on North Carolina, go ahead. … We’ll not be bullied, not be bribed and not be threatened by corporations and businesses. Our values are not for sale.”

Christopher Doyle, a therapist with Virginia-based group Equality and Justice For All, said he’s trying to see the issue from all sides. He suggested companies that are upset over the law might be better served by coming up with solutions of their own. That could include installing unisex bathrooms to make transgender people feel less threatened, he said.

“You see businesses making statements that the bill is bad for business, and we’re discouraging diversity and so forth. But why not have business, in their compassion, provide accommodations through their own funds, so transgender people can be more comfortable,” said Doyle, whose specialties include people who have sexual identification issues.

“I don’t think we should be demonizing politicians, or trying to paint transgender people as monsters. I don’t believe either are monsters. We need to come up with reasonable and loving solutions.”

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