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HB2: Real pain, imaginary threats

Clemson and coach Dabo Swinney won’t be coming to Charlotte again anytime soon.
Clemson and coach Dabo Swinney won’t be coming to Charlotte again anytime soon. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

This is how nutty the HB2 saga has become: We’re now enduring very real pain over very imaginary ghosts.

We’ve now lost the ACC football championship game and seven other ACC championships, the NBA All-Star game, seven NCAA title games, business investment from PayPal, Deutsche Bank and others, and numerous conventions and concerts over nothing.

Well, not nothing. We’ve lost them because good people have taken a stand against discrimination.

But we are going through all this pain – trashing North Carolina’s reputation, vaporizing economic impact, stealing jobs from people who need them – over imagined threats. Reality is the same as it was before HB2 ever existed.

HB2 supporters, from Gov. Pat McCrory on down, portray the law as necessary to protect our vulnerable women and little girls.

“The reality is that had we not blocked the Charlotte Bathroom Ordinance from going into effect, sex offenders and pedophiles would have had full access to our women and children in bathrooms around the state,” Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said when the NBA moved its All-Star game out of Charlotte.

Set aside that House Bill 2 is about far more than bathrooms in that it also denies basic protections to all gay people.

Think about how little has changed with North Carolina’s bathrooms.

Before the Charlotte ordinance and HB2, which bathroom do you think transgender people used in public places? The one for the gender with which they identify. They have been doing so for years and years.

After the Charlotte ordinance, nothing about that changed. They could continue to do so.

If HB2 is repealed, transgender bathroom use will be back to where it has been all along. It was not a threat then, it is not one now and it would not be if HB2 is repealed. Anyone not blinded by politics knows it.

But Republican legislative leaders saw a wedge issue that played to their base. McCrory didn’t have the spine to stop them. And now we are paying a very real price over a manufactured fear of mythical predators.

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