As expected, the Justice Department recently advised North Carolina that HB2 (the “bathroom bill”) violates federal civil rights statues and discriminates against transgender people. Rather than abandon the law which has brought an avalanche of negative publicity and economic loss to the state, on May 9 North Carolina, along with the Justice Department, filed dueling lawsuits. Since the Ashe County Commissioners unanimously, and short-sightedly, passed a resolution last month supporting the law, will they now double down and ask the county attorney to file a friend of the court brief, or pass another resolution supporting the lawsuit?
Backers of the law claim it’s needed to protect women and children from sexual predators in restrooms. Despite 17 states and more than 200 cities having provisions similar to the ordinance Charlotte was attempting to pass precipitating this law, supporters, including Governor McCrory, can’t point to a single documented instance of a male predator “putting on a dress,” pretending to be transgender and going into a women’s restroom to molest anyone. That was illegal before HB2, is illegal now and will be illegal when the law is repealed.
The sexual predator loophole is a myth. The real agenda is to deny rights to LGBT persons. Pastor Sonny Thomas says I misconstrue facts when I said in an earlier commentary that he equated transgender individuals to sexual predators during the 18 April commissioners’ hearing. Context matters. HB2 and the commissioners’ resolution of support were to overturn Charlotte’s ordinance affecting transgender people. Thomas was more concerned with threatening local transgender-friendly businesses by telling them they’d lose his patronage rather than putting his remarks into the context he now says they were meant.
Thomas’ views are well known. From this very page he railed against pending federal hate crime legislation in 2009 that would protect gay and lesbian Americans. In 2012 he wrote extensively here disparaging homosexuals and their “radical agenda” when Amendment One was being debated over same-sex marriage. He has a documented history of actively seeking to deny basic constitutional rights to LGBT Americans.
Thomas takes me to task for not speaking at the hearing as he did. Perhaps he’s unaware the cross town paper had a story online three days before the hearing reporting four of the commissioners planned to vote yes and the fifth was leaning that way. Rather than keeping their views private until the hearing concluded, as a Board exercising good governance would do, the outcome of the vote was already predetermined. Thomas and the other attendees, either wittingly or unwittingly, took part in a publicity stunt, not a real public hearing. Yet he claims his advocacy is superior to mine.
At the April 19 Ashe County Republican Party meeting, progressive author Melissa Edmondson was invited to speak. Edmondson spent a large part of her time discussing HB2. After concluding her remarks, the first question asked concerned a report that the individual who spearheaded the Charlotte ordinance was a registered sex offender. A simple Internet search will give readers the facts.
The individual in question is indeed a registered sex offender, but he was not the leader of the bathroom-related ordinance. In fact, “this individual worked as a youth music minister in 1998 and in that capacity lured young males to his apartment to spend the night where he showed them pornography and tried to talk them into sex. One boy testified that he woke up to find this individual ‘fondling him.’ He was convicted on one charge of sexual molestation of a minor.”
If Thomas and other supporters are concerned with sexual predators using a so-called loophole to get into the women’s restroom to molest wives and daughters, why aren’t they equally concerned with these predators that are right now using the same restroom as their young sons? That’s the real loophole and proof this transgender loophole conspiracy is a myth to simply cover the real agenda of denying LGBT rights.
Moreover, it still baffles me that Commissioners Sands, Rose and Rhodes voted in favor of the resolution. I thought the three of them were the more sophisticated of the five commissioners. Sands and Rose are both law enforcement officers who have access to criminal databases. Did either of them bother to check and see if there was a documented history of bathroom assaults before voting yes? It would seem they should also have an inkling for what passes constitutional muster.
Even presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, a man who should only be allowed in the White House as a tourist, got this one right. He said transgender Caitlyn Jenner could use any bathroom she wants at Trump Tower.
The actions of the largely Republican General Assembly and the Republican Ashe County Board of Commissioners have turned our state and county into a laughing stock. The United Kingdom even issued an advisory to its LGBT citizens traveling to North Carolina as if we are a third world country.
More troubling are all the other provisions in HB2, aside from the bathroom discrimination, that diminish or take away the rights of all North Carolinians. Yet no supporter is speaking out about these egregious provisions.
Finally, let me publicly thank Pastor Sonny Thomas for promoting my name eleven times in his letter to the editor. That made me feel very special.
Ken Lynn is a retired USAF colonel. He’s an adjunct online instructor with the USAF Air University. The views expressed here are his own.