That’s what legislators said, but all but one person speaking before council on the subject argued the bill was a homophobic hate rage waged to oppress the LBGTQ community. The lone dissenter said simply that sodomy was still a sin, but he caught the rebuke from another speaker who, while wanting to be clear that he/she had never read the Bible him/herself, said the Bible taught love and, therefore, would not subject transgenders to the abuse and reviling they constantly undergo when trying to use the restroom for the gender for which they identify or express. In fact, one speaker said he/she had been hospitalized on more than one occasion for holding it in because he/she feared the abuse he/she would undergo in public restrooms.
Manheimer said the resolution before council had been made stronger than the version published for public consumption prior to the meeting. The new resolution had been modeled after Carrboro’s, which was available online, and the city had received help from Carrboro’s Mayor Lydia Lavelle. Lavelle, of course, is North Carolina’s first openly-lesbian mayor. As paper copies were distributed to those present, Manheimer said the resolution explained why parts of HB2 were discriminatory and un-Constitutional, took a stand for repeal, and called on other local governments to follow suit. It was the opinion of the majority voicing any on the subject that Governor Pat McCrory’s Executive Order No. 93 was unsubstantial. It was further council’s wish to thank the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners for preceding them with an anti-HB2 resolution.
Councilman Cecil Bothwell preceded public comment saying the bill removed the right of North Carolinians to sue the state for discrimination on any grounds. It was, he said, “beyond belief,” “retrogressing,” “new Jim Crow Laws,” and cause for business to leave the state. Julie Mayfield added, “I’m proud to live in a city that believes and affirms there are no lesser people.”
Councilmen Brian Haynes and Keith Young chose to read prepared statements, a practice foreign to recent city councils. Haynes blamed Republican legislators for exercising Dillon’s rule powers, and urged local governments to follow the Reverend William Barber’s advice to engage in willful disobedience of HB2. Young prefaced his reading saying the “egregious act requires condemnation.” He said it “steps on the poor [and] everyone who is not a straight, white male.” Furthermore, “Christianity teaches love and acceptance . . . Evil hides under the cover of religion, but it’s not hiding right now.” He concluded with, “We will soon, very soon, make America great again.” Both readings met with applause, and given the momentousness of the occasion, the mayor was a tad more tolerant of decorum-disrespecting clapping than usual.
Several members of the public who spoke self-described as identifying or expressing a gender inconsistent with what was on their original birth certificates. Most did not consider in the least the legislators’ stated intentions to preserve safe spaces for innocent and defenseless little girls when they have to undress fully or partially. Women’s rights organizations throw around the statistic that one in five women admit to being victims of sexual assault. HB2 was intended to prevent voyeurs, molesters, and rapists from posing as transvestites to gain access to innocents, “which has been known to happen,” according to an off-the-record source close to the Charlotte action.
Instead, HB2 was described as an attack on transgendered people, not only forcing them to endure the discomfort a little girl would feel undressing in front of testosterone-stoked lunks, but insinuating LGTBQ people were rapists. The straw man argument, as many were intelligent enough to know, was false. Another straw man held up was that professing Christians were in-line with the gay-bashing publicity stunts of Westboro Baptist Church. While many Christians, out of a sense of decency, will not go near the subject; others professing the faith but stuck reporting on these meetings run out of ways to say, “I choose to follow my Lord. He taught me not to participate in what you want me to embrace. He also taught that while I must choose for myself between good and evil actions, I cannot judge the hearts of others; I am to love everybody unconditionally.”
Back to the meeting, one speaker said when HB2 was passed, he/she had to have a discussion with his/her kids about their action plan should he/she be detained for using the wrong bathroom or become a victim of vigilante violence. In addition to personal testimonials about abuse in public restrooms, some speakers cited statistics. One person said, “suicidality, unemployment, violence, poverty, incarceration, and homelessness” were disproportionately high among transgendered people of color. An attorney put a face on the problem with stories that included one of a person being locked in a freezer and hearing the perps laugh outside the door.
At least a couple speakers were so upset and flustered, they couldn’t talk and begged detractors to stop the bigotry. One told how he/she had received a gender on his/her birth certificate because, “some doctor made a decision based on what my body looked like.” He/she said gender is a personal choice that nobody can know but the practicing individual. “Those parts are not me,” he/she said. Another on the verge of tears said he/she was hurt and unable to listen to the arguments anymore. He/she asked if legislators were so concerned about protecting women and children, why they weren’t attacking automobile accidents or accidental firearms discharges, which kill way more people than transgendered individuals in public restrooms. Another, more emotionally detached speaker said pastors and priests are far more inclined than transvestites to engage in pedophilia, but he/she was not going to go down that road.
Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who is running unopposed for the downtown Buncombe County Commissioners’ district, said repealing HB2 was only a first step. The legislature was bullying on many levels and abusing power. He/she called upon council to demonstrate clarity and moral courage to pro-act the rest of a wider agenda, the details of which he/she did not share. Manheimer said, among other things, the city was not about to “tolerate this fairly juvenile act on the part of the legislature.”