On March 23, Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina signed the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act into law. Republicans passed this bill through the legislature unanimously and the Democrats chose to walk out in protest. This bill removed local governments’ option to pass their own anti-discrimination laws if they contradict with the state’s law. Because the state has no protections for people based on sexual orientation or gender identity, this strips the queer community of protection from discrimination. Another part of the law specifically targets transgender people. The law makes it illegal for someone to use a bathroom that doesn’t match their assigned gender at birth.
This law has drawn widespread controversy to the state of North Carolina and Governor McCrory. Five states have issued travel bans to the state – including Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington. Other cities including Boston, Chicago, New York City, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, West Palm Beach and the District of Columbia have also issued bans.
Some big names that have denounced the law are President Obama; presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders; and celebrities Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner and George Takei. President Obama has also stated that this law may disqualify North Carolina from receiving billions of dollars in federal funding, which would create huge economic fallout in the state.
Following the signing of the law, the queer community and their allies were energized to fight against it. Since it is an election year, this issue could be taken up by the presidential candidates as well as severely affecting the governor race in North Carolina.
Governor McCrory has defended the bill despite saying that transgender issues should be decided at the local level four months prior to signing the bill.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper is the Democratic candidate for governor and has vowed to not defend the law in the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Polls that have been taken since the signing of the legislation show a large jump for challenger Cooper. Before the legislation was signed, McCrory led Cooper by 2 percent, but now Cooper leads McCrory by 4 to 6 percent depending on the poll.
It would be prudent for Democrats to capitalize on this issue and for Republicans to try to energize their evangelical base to defend their gubernatorial seat. Either way, since this issue reached national attention, it’s very likely that North Carolinians will think twice about whom they vote for in November.
Both parties should be pouring a good amount of money into the state for the election. If one thing is for certain, the queer and transgender communities will fight back, and they very well may win.