The raging debate over House Bill 2 won’t end and has become a political football, only this is a not a game. Regardless of who started the fight or is continuing it, the plain and simple truth is that HB2 is damaging North Carolina.
What kind of state have we become when partisan pandering, incivility and political agendas are more important than the welfare of our state and its people?
There is ample evidence that Mayor Roberts knew in advance the Pandora’s box she was opening with the bathroom provision of Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance. Governor McCrory, political consultants and even other City Council members recognized the potential for fallout and advised against the provision. We’ve said before Charlotte baited the legislature and they took the bait hook, line and sinker, using a sledgehammer in their response. Lawmakers were also warned before they voted.
Regardless of your where you stand on Transgendered people, civil rights or discrimination you cannot deny our state has suffered. On Wednesday the U.S. Justice Department notified the state that at least part of HB2 violates Title IX of the Civil Rights Act regarding discrimination in education. Justice also said it violates Title VII dealing with the rights of state employees.
Regardless, North Carolina has gotten a black eye, not just within the country, but internationally. Special interest groups, many of whom aren’t even located in our state, continue to heap wood on the blazing fire. Elected officials at both state and local levels, people we selected to do all the people’s business, seem more interested in their agendas and those of special interests than in North Carolina’s welfare. It is a needless and unnecessary distraction at a time when we need to be discussing important issues.
It’s time to stop this madness, call a cease-fire and disarm. Someone is going to have to broker a way for everyone to save face through an alternative pathway. Part of the deal must include an agreement from those on all sides to dial back the rhetoric and call off the dogs so some solution can be reached. Our legislature must admit they were wrong and repeal HB2, something that won’t be easy for them to do, and Charlotte needs to be party to any brokered agreement. Finally, the media could help by showing more restraint in their coverage.
It is clear that North Carolina needs some honest dialogue about civil rights and discrimination, but that will never occur until calmer heads can rationally approach the topic with all sides of the issue present at the table.
Too much damage has been done and there are hints that future major sporting events, film productions and big concerts might be cancelled. Economic developers say potential prospects are drying up or putting future expansion plans on hold. Factor in the costs associated with lengthy lawsuits and the potential loss of federal funding and the losses just continue to mount.
At this point it doesn’t matter who started this mess or even who is right or wrong. Now its time for us to see some real leadership and statesmanship before our state incurs further damage. Who will come forward to stop the bleeding and fix this situation?
Tom Campbell is the executive producer and moderator of N.C. Spin.