As the storm of anti-LGBTQ legislation sweeps through Arkansas, a ray of hope emerges in North Carolina, where legislators and Equality NC unveil four pro-LGBTQ bills, igniting a beacon of progress.
“For too long LGBTQ North Carolinians have lived in the shadow of archaic and outdated laws that impact everyone in our community,” Kendra Johnson of Equality NC said.
The four bills are:
First, the package of bills includes a non-discrimination bill that would apply statewide since no such law exists at this time.
Then there is a bill to ban conversion therapies for minors in the state.
Rep. Allison Dahle
“Unfortunately, one of my aunts went through conversion therapy,” said Rep. Allison Dahle, a Raleigh Democrat. “And still to this day — she’s in her late 70s — there are ramifications from said therapy, and so it’s really important to me that we make sure that no child has to go through any of this, that no person has to go through this.”
This bill is unique in that it would ban the gay- or trans-panic defense.
This is a measure that can be invoked by a person who has attacked, injured, or even killed an LGBTQ individual to reduce their sentence.
For example, an assailant who beat up an LGBTQ individual could justify their actions by saying that the LGBTQ individual tried to kiss them.
“By banning this defense, we send the message that someone’s existence as an LGBTQ+ person does not excuse anyone from committing a heat of passion attack,” Rep. John Autry said.
Rep. John Autry
Another bill aims to repeal the remnants of HB2 also known as the “bathroom bill". Passed five years ago, HB2 prohibited transgender people from using a restroom that matches the gender with which they identify.
The passage of HB2 caused an uproar across the United States. Many artists and sports organizations canceled their events in the state. Businesses even canceled the opening of branch offices in North Carolina.
The sponsors of these pro-LGBTQ bills argue that state legislators have not done everything possible to remove HB2 in its entirety. The bill introduced will attempt to fix that.
The House of Representatives is under Republican control, but the authors of the bills said they are confident that the current momentum in North Carolina will continue. Many cities have indeed passed nondiscrimination ordinances.
Rep. Vernetta Alston
“People want this change to happen,” Democratic Rep. Vernetta Alston said.
So there is still hope, but let’s not be too naïve either. There is no sign of bipartisan support.
On the contrary, Republican lawmakers, eager to satisfy the more conservative momentum that emerged around the time of the presidential election, have introduced two anti-LGBTQ bills, namely a bill to ban transgender girls and women from playing sports on sports teams consistent with their gender identity and another bill to allow magistrates to use a religious exemption to avoid having to marry same-sex couples.
To be continued ...