Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

N.C. Blocks LGBT-Rights Law: Is There Middle Ground in Bathroom Debate?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

N.C. Blocks LGBT-Rights Law: Is There Middle Ground in Bathroom Debate?

Article excerpt

North Carolina's legislature held a tense debate Wednesday night and passed a law that requires people to use the restroom aligned with their biological sex.

The state's General Assembly called a special session to pass the bill, which Gov. Pat McRory (R) quickly signed, a dramatic move inside a contentious national debate that has caused religious conservatives and LGBT rights advocates alike to fear for their rights.

The state law targets a bill from the city of Charlotte, set to take effect April 1, that featured broad anti-discrimination legislation. State legislators took specific aim at a provision of that law that would have allowed those making gender transitions to use their preferred restroom in public places.

"The basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings, a restroom or locker room, for each gender was violated by government overreach and intrusion by the mayor and city council of Charlotte," the governor said in a statement.

The debate took a tense three hours, and the Senate's Democratic contingency walked out in protest, although all Republicans and 12 House Democrats voted for the measure.

"We choose not to participate in this farce," Sen. Daniel Blue (D), the Senate minority leader, told The Associated Press.

Republicans stressed the importance of safety and privacy for women in restroom facilities, worrying that some men might use the Charlotte law to harass women.

"It's common sense -- biological men should not be in women's showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms," Rep. Dean Arp of Monroe (R) said on the floor, according to the AP.

Advocates of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights said the state law uses fear tactics to mischaracterize their community and fails to protect transgender people from discrimination.

"[The General Assembly] has passed a bill that is worse than what we have seen in Indiana and Georgia and other states," Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts (D) said in a statement. …

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