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Hullabaloo


Thursday, March 24, 2016

 

"A legislature led by extremists"

by Tom Sullivan

Republicans in the swing state of North Carolina must feel heavily gerrymandering the state hasn't given them enough of an election-year edge. Nor implementing perhaps the most radical voter restrictions in the country. In the chaos caused by the new voter ID law during last week's record primary turnout, voters cast over 40,000 provisional ballots. The highest concentrations were on college campuses.

But there is nothing quite like a hot-button, social issue to bring out the GOP faithful and distract them from thinking about the condition of the state's schools, or their jobs, or how screwed up their state Republican party is.

Yesterday, the GOP-controlled legislature convened a special session to overturn a Charlotte ordinance allowing transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their identities. But that was just the warm-up. "The bill also prevents local governments from passing ordinances that prohibit discrimination beyond a state standard based on race, religion, color, national origin and biological sex," according to the Charlotte Observer. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the measure last night. But not before state Senate Democrats walked out in protest.

NC State Senator Jeff Jackson (D-District 37) posted the graphic above on his Facebook page with the hashtag #WeAreNotThis . Senate Minority Whip Terry Van Duyn (D-District 49) posted a statement to her web site:

WHY I WALKED OUT

MARCH 23, 2016

Raleigh, NC – This Wednesday evening the entire Senate Democratic Caucus walked off the Senate floor as the General Assembly passed HB2, one of the most sweeping anti-LGTB bills in the nation. Here is the statement that Senate Democratic Whip Terry Van Duyn gave during this walk-out:

“And sexual orientation and gender identity”.

Those six words in the city of Charlotte’s ordinance changed the face of equality for every person in the state of North Carolina.

Charlotte’s effort to extend protection of discrimination to one group of people has, in turn, resulted in the Republican Party’s attempt to punish millions of people across the state.

Decades of progress have been undone at the hands of this immoral bill – more than 50 years of civil rights efforts are being erased.

While I stand in support of equality for LGBT community, we must understand that the creation of this bill goes far deeper than that.

And the Republican Party was thorough and deliberate in exploiting this local act to show their true colors.

This bill is a direct assault on living wage standards, paid leave benefits, working conditions and even state and local protection from racial and religious persecution.

This is a blatant abuse of power. We were elected to protect the people of this state. Instead, we have violated the people’s trust and endangered their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

How can republican leaders of the General Assembly, as public servants, claim to act on behalf of the people when they are actively assaulting the people’s rights.

We want the nation to know that this is not what North Carolina stands for, and that is why, every single Senate Democrat present today, walked off the floor of the senate, rather than participate in this atrocity.
The Raleigh News and Observer was just as harsh, calling it "a legislature led by extremists":
Republicans who control the General Assembly went to great lengths – probably beyond even the U.S. Constitution – to secure their majority through gerrymandering. But in walling themselves into power, they overlooked the real threat to their keeping it – their own extremism.
I can't decide whether Charlotte City Council was naive in handing opponents this election-year wedge issue or diabolically clever in getting Republicans to double down on the legislative incompetence that has kept the state busy in court since taking control. Charlotteans may simply have wanted to do the right thing.

But Charlotte opened the door and the NCGOP rushed through. Never mind that their constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage passed in 2012 would not stand even until the next presidential election. Another rallying cry must be found to inflame conservative voters in 2016. (No Dread When I Pee? And the flag looks like...?)

Besides, the "government is best which is closest to the people" people are at war against cities. Cities are where the largest blocks of blue votes are. And whether in Michigan or North Carolina, Democratic voters must be stopped, democratically or otherwise.