Last month WBTV revealed that mayors in North Carolina’s largest cities are colluding with LGBT activists Equality NC to reboot the old and tired debate on HB2.
At a time of high unemployment and looming municipal deficits when our communities should be working together to recover from COVID-19, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and the Metro Mayors Coalition are working overtime to promote the divisive and tired agenda that embraces government overreach and violation of First Amendment liberties that was brought to our State by former Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts. We question their priorities.
For the past three years, cities across North Carolina have been precluded from enacting such ordinances because of legislation passed by the North Carolina General Assembly–HB2 and HB142, which later replaced HB2. These laws pre-empt local governments so that only the General Assembly can regulate access to multiple occupancy bathrooms, showers, and changing facilities. They also prohibit cities from passing or amending ordinances regulating private employment or public accommodations. This last prohibition is set to expire on December 1st this year unless the General Assembly takes action. That is why these groups are seeking to advance their LGBT agenda through city ordinances now.
In an Op-Ed sent to the Charlotte Observer, Tami Fitzgerald declared, “Coercive sexual orientation and gender identity (“SOGI”) laws like the ordinances pushed by Equality NC undermine both fairness and freedom.” For these reasons, we oppose SOGI laws like the ordinances being discussed by mayors across our state:
- First, SOGI laws force people who willingly serve everyone to promote messages and celebrate events that conflict with their beliefs. They coerce uniformity of thought and speech on beliefs about marriage, sex, and what it means to be male and female. SOGI laws take away free speech and religious freedom for a vast number of Americans. In other states, government is using SOGI laws to punish people like Jack Phillips, Barronelle Stutzman, and Blaine Adamson for declining to create custom art that expresses messages that conflict with their beliefs. These ordinances are a Trojan horse to weaponize hate and hostility toward small business owners and private citizens with sincerely held religious beliefs. The Supreme Court ruled that small business owner Jack Phillips could not be forced by his city to promote a message that violated his religious beliefs, yet our city leaders in North Carolina have not learned from the mistakes made by other cities.
- SOGI laws also create unfair playing fields for women and girls in athletics, business, and education. SOGI laws nullify the opportunities promised by federal legislation like Title IX, which guarantees women equal access to scholarships and educational opportunities on the same basis as men. Biological males competing as women disadvantage women and rob them of the opportunity to medal, compete, and earn college scholarships. Allowing boys to compete in girls’ sports shatters dreams and steals opportunities. Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field.
- SOGI laws harm efforts to find loving homes for kids in our nation’s overloaded foster care systems. SOGI laws force faith‐based adoption and foster care providers to violate their beliefs or stop their important work, meaning that fewer providers are working to help connect kidswith a family. That is not keeping kids first.
- Destructive gender ideology, which is enshrined under SOGI laws, threatens the right of parents to raise their children consistent with their beliefs.
- People of faith should not be treated like second‐class citizens. Tolerance is a two‐way street. Tolerance and respect for good‐faith differences of opinion are essential in a pluralistic society like ours. They enable us to peacefully coexist with each other. SOGI laws ostracize and marginalize people who hold decent and honorable beliefs about marriage, sex, and gender.
- SOGI laws are completely unnecessary. The free market should control how business owners are received by the public, not the government. When a city has dozens of bakers why would city leaders force a Christian baker to act against her conscience? Should a Jewish tee shirt maker be required to print a message directly against the Torah?
We urge mayors across our state to heed the words of our own North Carolina Constitution which says, “No human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience” and the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent reaffirmation of religious liberty when it stated, “We are also deeply concerned with preserving the promise of the free exercise of religion enshrined in our Constitution; that guarantee lies at the heart of our pluralistic society.” People of faith should be welcome in our cities, not targeted and punished.
Throughout our work on House Bill 2 and HB142 we heard politicians and leaders from across the state call for dialogue and collaboration, yet here we go again with the Metro Mayors Coalition and Equality NC kicking off a process that will likely lead our state down the same path. To our City leaders we say: listen to important stakeholders like female athletes, small business owners, and people of faith. Our voices are important. It’s time for a different approach.
For more information, visit NC Values Coalition.