It can be tough to be hateful in America.
Just ask North Carolina. The state is facing quite the backlash after its governor signed a bill into law that required transgender people to use the restroom designated for the gender put on their birth certificate, not the gender they identify with. The law also prevents local governments from expanding its equal rights protections for not only transgender people, but also for gay men, lesbians and bisexuals, quashing an ordinance that the city of Charlotte passed ensuring people who fit into those categories certain civil rights protections.
The backlash has been brutal. The latest consequence has been PayPal announcing it is holding off on a planned expansion of its operations in North Carolina. There’s also Lionsgate, which planned to film the pilot of a comedy series in the state but will instead relocate to Canada (It’s questionable why the company didn’t just locate to another state, but that’s getting off topic). A pharmaceutical company is reconsidering a $50 million project that would bring more jobs, and if that wasn’t enough, the NBA could possibly change its plans to hold next year’s All-Star Game in Charlotte, according to The Associated Press.
That last one would sting particularly hard. It brings up memories of when Arizona voters decided against having a Monday state holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., and it lost an opportunity to host the Super Bowl in 1993 as a result. (Side note: There was already a holiday in place on Sunday.) Arizona almost lost the bowl again when the state was considering a bill in 2014 that would allow business owners to use religious beliefs as an excuse to refuse service to gay people.
Putting restrictions on people tends to cause rebellion. Case in point, the prohibition of alcohol—by constitutional amendment, no less—in this country. Speakeasies became common place, and the public pressure caused the U.S. Constitution to be amended again and repealing the prohibition.
It’s hard to comprehend why North Carolina is so jittery over who uses what restrooms. There’s this erroneous impression that men are going to put on dresses just so they can get into women’s restrooms and peep at their naughty bits. The likelihood of this happening is remote, and if it does happen, it’ll happen regardless of any law on the books.
I think the secondary annoyance, beyond the fumes of hate spewing from this hot potato, is the fact that it prevents local governments from offering protections. What does the state have to fear from city and county entities passing laws that don’t cause harm?
When you reap intolerance, that is what you sow. North Carolina has opted not to welcome everyone with open arms, so business owners who adopt a welcoming philosophy are taking their entrepreneurial spirit to more tolerant pastures. I probably won’t be booking my next vacation there, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone else take a trip there, either.
Hopefully, North Carolina will be held up as an example across the country of what happens when you only roll out the sidewalk for certain people. This is America, where you’re free to love who you want and take a leak where you’re most comfortable.