A week after North Carolina lawmakers passed legislation defining who can use which bathrooms on government property, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is vigorously defending the law against fierce criticism from LGBT activists and some businesses by saying it protects women and girls and actually grants new accommodation to transgenders.
Widely known now as House Bill 2, or HB 2, the legislation was approved 82-26 in the North Carolina General Assembly. State senators approved it 32-0, although 11 Democrats decided not to vote and another six lawmakers were absent. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill on March 25.
Lt. Gov. Forest said the city of Charlotte left lawmakers no choice but to act.
“This isn’t something the General Assembly brought up brought up. The city council in Charlotte brought this up, against legal counsel’s advice and against the advice of a lot of folks. They went beyond their constitutional authority and tried to create a public accommodation law in the city of Charlotte,” said Forest.
“That is expressly a responsibility of the state. The city of Charlotte and municipalities don’t have the legal authority, based on our constitution, to establish public accommodation law,” said Forest.
In addition to overstepping it’s legal authority, Forest says the Charlotte council pursued a very troubling policy.
“The Charlotte ordinance said that the business community had to to comply with this ordinance. They said it was sex discrimination to have men’s room and women’s room labels on your doors,” said Forest.
When state officials started hearing from sexual assault victims, the effort to reverse the Charlotte ordinance picked up far more steam.
“We have had multiple calls from women who had been sexually abused in a bathroom in a facility like that, who were literally being traumatized by even the thought of that going into law in North Carolina. We stepped up to address it because it was going to go into effect and become the law in Charlotte on April 1. That’s why we had to go into special session,” said Forest.
Conservative lawmakers and family organizations became even more alarmed after discovering that one of the leading advocates for the Charlotte ordinance is a registered sex offender. At the time, Chad Sevearance-Turner was president of the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The Charlotte Observer, citing a story in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, reports Sevearance-Turner was convicted by a jury for fondling a 15-year-old boy while he slept in 1998. Seaverance-Turner was serving as youth minister in Gaffney, South Carolina, at the time. The boy was a church member.
The actual text of the Charlotte ordinance only made things worse for concerned citizens. Forest says the language made bathrooms and changing areas open to virtually anyone.
“The giant loophole they created was that this ordinance would then allow any person to enter any bathroom at any time. A man can enter a women’s bathroom, a women’s locker room, a shower facility. They could enter a girls’ bathroom, a girls’ locker room. A sexual predator could enter in there, somebody that is a pedophile could go into a girls’ or women’s bathroom” said Forest.
Forest says the ordinance only required the person to identify as a member of a particular gender, and to have completed or be in the process of gender reassignment.
He says despite the protests, HB 2 does a few very simple things, starting with who can use which bathrooms.
“What HB 2 did was say that men have to use men’s rooms and women have to use women’s rooms in the state of North Carolina,” said Forest.
At the same time, he says people identifying as transgender benefit too.
“What this bill did is it created accommodation for people that are transgender, for people that view their gender differently than other folks,” said Forest. “It also provides the opportunity for single-stall unisex bathrooms. Anywhere that you want to place them.”
Forest says unlike Charlotte, the HB 2 only applies to government buildings and schools. Business owners are free to make their own decisions.
And he says that’s not all.
“If you go fully through the process of being a transsexual, then go get your birth certificate changed and you go to whatever bathroom you are assigned at that point based on your birth certificate,” said Forest.
As for the critics alleging discrimination and bigotry and businesses threatening to leave the state, Forest says there’s nothing new about this firestorm.
“This is the same cast of characters that we’ve seen before. We saw this same cast of characters in Houston, when Houston dealt with this problem and had to turn down the same kind of ordinance a year or so ago. Same cast of characters we saw during our marriage amendment battle here in North Carolina,” said Forest.
Forest contends the businesses were pressured to get on board through aggressive tactics from the most powerful lobbying arm of the LGBT agenda.
“It’s being driven by folks like the Human Rights Campaign, which has a significant in with human resources departments in these companies, who then have an in with their diversity team at these companies as well. They write a letter and they give it to a CEO or an executive and that executive signs it and sends it out to their employees,” said Forest.
He says a little prodding reveals the “activist” business leaders don’t really have a firm understanding of the legislation.
“I called them up and I said, ‘Have you even read the bill?’ And they said no, they hadn’t read the bill but they were handed this to send out to their employees. It’s a shame that’s the way it works, but that is the way it works,” said Forest.
The most famous corporate blowback came from the NBA. Charlotte is slated to host the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, but the league says this law may impact those plans.
Forest finds the NBA’s protest especially odd.
“The irony of that is that there is the NBA and the WNBA. They don’t allow men to play in the WNBA and I’m sure they don’t allow men to go into the women’s locker room after the games either. But they somehow think North Carolina is discriminatory because we want to protect women and children from predators in the bathroom,” said Forest.
He says the protests reveal who is truly intolerant.
“Really, what this leftist ideology and this leftist agenda says is, ‘You better subscribe to our way of thinking or we are going to come after you.’ They don’t let up. They keep on coming. That’s really unfortunate that people can’t sit down in a room and figure out how to get along,” said Forest.
Social conservatives have been plenty frustrated with Republicans in recent years for not standing as firmly as promised on issues ranging from marriage to religious freedom. Forest says even with the heat from opponents and the media, there was no thought of backing down from this effort.
“You will never go wrong by doing the right thing. There may be consequences to pay for doing the right thing. Those consequences may be political and there may be a group of people who say, ‘We don’t want you to be their lieutenant governor again.’ I’m fine with that. If I do the right thing, I really don’t care about the blowback or whether I get elected again,” said Forest.
He says the most disappointing part of this fight has been the reckless disregard for the truth from the left.
“The real shame of it is people don’t care about the truth anymore. The truth doesn’t matter in America anymore. That’s really unfortunate because all of the debate that’s coming against HB 2 in North Carolina is based on a bunch of fictitious matter,” said Forest.