Recently, between claims of “fake news” and updates on rising tensions in Syria, the North Carolina State General Assembly has made its way back into the blinding light of liberal media since its regular session convened on January 11th of this year. North Carolina made headlines after passage of House Bill Two (HB2), commonly referred to as the “Bathroom Bill”, on last year. The law requires people to use the public restrooms and changing facilities which correspond to the gender assigned to them at birth, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. HB2 also allows public institutions to provide single occupancy restrooms for those who do not feel comfortable in restrooms designated to the gender on their birth certificate.
The Bathroom Bill caused leftist outbursts of rage and deeply offended LGBTQ organizations nationwide. Five days after its passage, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) began a lawsuit in federal court over the Bathroom Bill violating individual rights under the 14th amendment. The fallout of the passage of the Bathroom bill caused pandemonium that spread far past the operations of the court as many businesses and public figures showed backlash towards the young house bill. Liberals felt that the goal of the bill was to humiliate and criminalize LGBTQ members—specifically transgender people who do not agree with their gender assigned at birth. Less than two weeks after the bill’s passage into law, PayPal boycotted North Carolina by withdrawing a business operation which would have brought 400 jobs and a $36 million facility to Charlotte. Three days later, Bruce Springsteen canceled his North Carolina concert, using his popularity to push his own public agenda.
Despite the intense backlash surrounding the Bathroom Bill, North Carolina senate leader Paul Berger defends the law by explaining that the role of legislators is to represent their constituents’ opinions. In this case, the vast majority of constituents agreed with the bill. Parties in opposition believe the law infringed on individuals’ rights to choose their restroom facility based on their personal gender identity. Businesses coalesced in resistance to the goals of the Bathroom Bill to provide safe restroom areas to all people by hitting North Carolina citizens where it hurt most . . . sports.
The NBA led the crusade of opposition when it outsourced its annual All-Star game and related events due to “the climate created by HB2” hindering the NBA from “successfully [hosting] the All-Star game festivities in Charlotte.” The National College Athletic Association (NCAA) was not far behind in delivering perhaps the most detrimental blow to sports fans. The NCAA became the General Assembly’s toughest adversary when threatened to move all seven championship games elsewhere. Without question, the NCAA’s boycott agitated North Carolinians—who take college sports very seriously—and coaxed many middle-of-the-road constituents to oppose HB2. With an increasing volume of resistance to the bill, legislators like Paul Berger remained under fire to make changes in order to calm down the fervor.
At the top of the list for the General Assembly this session was to devise a plan to repeal and replace the Bathroom Bill with a law that aligns with the Republican Party’s goal of providing safe, public bathrooms and changing facilities without offending liberal constituents. All the while, the NCAA refused to concede its position to completely boycott the state while HB2 remained in place. Regarding the issue surrounding the Bathroom Bill, North Carolina is at the mercy of the NCAA as it exercises its public power to promote its political agenda instead of its own private business. On March 30th of this year, state congress passed HB142—the bill which replaced the original Bathroom Bill, HB2. The replacement bill withdraws the power of the government agencies to regulate the use of multiple occupancy restrooms and changing facilities, giving this discretion back to private businesses.
The NCAA was successful in drastically influencing the actions of the legislature, and it continues to attract support as it partners with other liberal-minded businesses across the state. Following the introduction of the new Bathroom Bill, which is in no small part intended to calm the waters around the subject matter (for the time being at least), the NCAA reluctantly lifted its boycott on the state, but not without making yet another statement to warn government officials of its tight reins on the issue. The NCAA comments on the boycott reversal by saying that the state has “minimally achieved a situation where we believe NCAA championships may be conducted in a non-discriminatory environment.” The organization seems to imply that their goal is far from met with regards to the bill and alludes to a rocky road in the future before both parties are content.
The political war over the constitutionality of the new Bathroom Bill is one that does not seem to be drawing much closer to an end despite a wane in news coverage. Big-business tantrums such as the NCAA’s are drastically polarizing the reality of North Carolina’s political culture and, as large companies interject their political agenda in the conservative South, the only effect achieved is a greater unrest. North Carolina conservatives must remain steadfast in promoting right-minded, commonsense laws amidst more liberal societal changes. In a society that so easily and fluently accepts social change of every type, the burden lies on lawmakers’ shoulders to conform our government to these societal adaptations. Creating logical laws to accommodate our society is necessary to protect individual rights of every citizen—including those who embrace tradition and those who press for change.
This article appears also in the Summer 2017 edition of The Arch Conservative in print.
— Peyton Sketch is a sophomore studying political science and sociology. She is a first-time contributor to The Arch Conservative.