Walt’s Soapbox: Dispatch from the Equality Revolution

Our Editor-in-Chief, Faren Coday, posted a brief piece from me the other day about the situation in North Carolina. The state legislature there is spending $42,000 a day to stop a non-discrimination ordinance in the city of Charlotte. The session was called for by Lt. Governor Dan Forester and Speaker of the State House Tim Moore.

At around 6:30 pm, the North Carolina State Legislature got what the Lt. Governor and Speaker wanted and passed the bill overriding Charlotte’s city ordinance and much more. The bill not only overrode it, it made it against state law for a trans person to use a public restroom and also on an unrelated note, also made it against state law for localities and municipalities to pass local laws for higher wages or better working conditions (because fuck working people, I suppose). The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Pat McCrory, who will no doubt sign it.

What happened in North Carolina isn’t an anomaly; it’s the new front in a post-Obergefell war.

While all eyes were on North Carolina, the Governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, signed SB 175 into law early Wednesday morning. SB 175, which passed the Kansas legislature barely a week ago, allows for student organizations in both secondary and post-secondary (collegiate) institutions to discriminate against LGBT people. It also prohibits the institutions from penalizing such organizations, provided said organizations say the magic words “sincerely held religious beliefs”.

SB 175 isn’t even the most discriminatory bill in Kansas. Another bill pending is known as the Student Physical Privacy Act would allow a student who observed a transgender person using the “wrong” restroom to sue the school for $2,500, plus “monetary damages for all psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered as a result of a violation of this section”. The bill has not become law, but it sets an extremely dangerous precedent with the state legislature preparing to put a bounty on the head of every trans student in the State of Kansas who just wanted to take a piss.

The State of Georgia is also preparing to enact their own draconian anti-LGBT law, HB 757, known as the Free Exercise Protection Act. The bill, not yet signed by Governor Nathan Deal, provides not only the usual barrage of bullshit protecting discrimination against LGBT people under the guise of “sincerely held religious beliefs”, but also has an interesting clause near the end of the bill that says “All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.”. So any local ordinances in Georgia that provide protections to the LGBT community are null and void should this bill be signed.

Georgia Democrats were quoted as saying “resulting litigation from this move will clog our courts, paralyze our economy, and drain our business community dry. HB 757 is a short-sighted move by Republicans that will have consequences for years to come.”

Georgia is already feeling the same sting we felt in Indiana when Governor Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), with corporations and businesses, amongst them Disney and Telecom company 373K, threatening to leave the state if the bill is signed.

Many of the major LGBT equality organizations assumed our war for equality and justice came to an end when the Supreme Court’s gavel fell in Obergefell v. Hodges. If we got marriage equality, the rest would basically fall into place, and if the last battle was over, the war would end soon.

As you can see, brothers and sisters, this is simply not true. The war only shifted fronts. We got our marriage and hooray for us. Now, the opposition is breaking up their fights from a national front to a state and local one. They are finding ways to undo what we have gained and they are willing to call legislation on a moment’s notice and piss away thousands of tax payer dollars to make sure we keep our place as second-class citizens.

We have seen in Indiana that this fight is not over, so it is obviously not over in the rest of the country.

The time is now. The fight is ours. From the lackluster and delayed responses to this bullshit from such major LGBT groups as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), it’s obvious we’re gonna be on our own. So dig in, unfurl the banners and colors, and let’s keep marching.

This won’t be the final word. The battles will rage on, and I’ll be on the front lines.

Featured image credit: http://examinergazette.com


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