Discrimination is never OK. It never has been, and it never will be. Denying someone a basic human right because of their race, religion, gender, gender identity or their sexual orientation is wrong.
Wednesday, March 23, North Carolina’s state Legislature passed a bill that prevents cities and counties within the state from creating their own anti-discrimination laws.
At first, that doesn’t sound too bad because the entire state would be unified in their laws and policies concerning its anti-discrimination protection for its citizens.
However, it was the context in which it appears this bill was passed that makes it no longer a good idea — to withhold anti-discrimination laws from reaching LGBT citizens of North Carolina.
One month prior to this bill being passed, Charlotte, North Carolina passed an ordinance that included two more categories in which a person could be protected against discrimination from businesses through anti-discrimination laws, according to NPR. In addition to the federal categories of race, religion, color, natural origin and biological sex, Charlotte’s city council added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list.
Had the general assembly not scheduled a special session before the ordinance had a chance to take effect, LGBT citizens of Charlotte would have been guaranteed protection against being discriminated by businesses, beginning April 1, according to NPR.
But that isn’t going to happen.
In a matter of 12 hours, North Carolina’s state Legislature kept this from happening by introducing, debating and passing the bill that Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law, according to NPR.
“It is the public policy of this State to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all individuals within the State to enjoy fully and equally the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of public accommodation free of discrimination because of race, religion, color, national origin or biological sex,” according to the Legislative declaration of the Equal Access to Public Accommodations Act.
The Act uses the term “Public Accommodations” as it is defined in the Persons With Disabilities Person Protection Act G.S. 168A-3 (8).
“Place of public accommodations includes, but is not limited to, any place, facility, store, other establishment, hotel or motel, which supplies goods or services on the premises to the public or which solicits or accepts the patronage or trade of any person,” according to the definition.
The Act then states that designating a bathroom to a specific sex is not considered discriminatory.
The bill does not allow transgender citizens to use a bathroom that is opposite to their biological sex unless their birth certificate has been changed, as the Charlotte ordinance would have.
That decision is not the part of the bill for which we are voicing our concern.
Our concern with the bill stems from the fact that the legislature could have included sexual orientation and gender identity in the list of those protected by anti-discrimination laws, as was done in Charlotte, but they didn’t.
We do not believe that it is right for places of public accommodation to deny services or products to citizens based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and we believe LGBT citizens should be included in anti-discrimination laws.
We agree with the approach Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained in 2015 in relation to LGBT anti-discrimination laws.
“We call on local, state and national governments to serve all of their people,” he said, according to the Deseret News. “By striving to pass legislation that protects vital religious freedoms for individuals, families, churches and other faith groups while also protecting the rights of LGBT citizens in such areas as housing, employment and public accommodation in hotels, restaurants and transportation.”
At its finest, America represents freedom of expression and tolerance for others.
At its core, the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love everyone around us.
We believe that before a person is gay or straight, black or white, religious or not, he or she is first and foremost a human. They are a child of God. That’s why we believe that everyone deserve to be treated fairly.
Scroll Editorial: Approved by a 28-0 vote from the Scroll Editorial staff