US POLITICS

North Carolina’s Derided Anti-Trans Law Still Finds Its Supporters

Local business owners explain why they’re in favor of a measure many consider discriminatory

US POLITICS
Two men are married in Charlotte, NC, in October 2014. — REUTERS
Mar 30, 2016 at 12:06 PM ET

North Carolina’s sweeping and discriminatory anti-LGBT bill has drawn widespread condemnation—from politicians, advocacy groups, national businesses and everyday North Carolinians. But, even in Charlotte, a liberal bastion in the purplish state, a number of small businesses have come out in support, underlining how controversial LGBT, and especially trans, rights remain.

North Carolina’s House Bill 2 (HB2), also known as the Public Facilities and Privacy Act, was hastily passed and signed on March 23 in response to a hard-fought Charlotte ordinance that protected gay and transgender people from discrimination. Many local businesses and national corporations, including Bank of AmericaAmerican Airlines, Google, the NBA and Apple came out against it—a potentially damning turn of events for a state poised to host next year’s NBA All-Star Game.

The larger media narrative is, again, one of outrage—and many are rightfully infuriated. But even inside Charlotte, there are those for whom the regulation makes sense, as a protection to them and their customers.

The North Carolina Values Coalition, a conservative think tank, on Tuesday released a statement in solidarity with HB2 and the state’s governor. “While business owners in other states have received criticism and have been forced out of business for standing up for common sense, hundreds (334) of North Carolina business owners have signed on to a letter thanking Governor Pat McCrory and the General Assembly for passing a law affirming the privacy and safety of businesses, women and children to live and work in accordance with their deeply held beliefs,” the statement reads. “These businesses support and applaud Governor McCrory for supporting women and children over being politically correct.”

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One of the signatories is Greg Humphrey, of Heaven’s Best Carpet Cleaning in Charlotte. He reiterated that the bill was “common sense,” while finding it inconceivable that there are people that would be against this regulation.

“To me, it’s good common sense that a man should not be going in a women’s bathroom, period. The only ones that are really [against it] are sexual predators and pedophiles. I don’t know how to explain myself to you,” he said told Vocativ phone call. “How far we’ve come from our Christian values and what this country was founded on is [mindboggling].”

Humphrey added that he doesn’t want to discriminate against anybody, but admitted he’s not about to reward people just for being different. “Where does a gay movement [and] their rights end and everybody else’s rights stop?” he asked. “To me, they’re going to push it as far as they’re going to push it… I’m 100 percent opposed to it.”

Cheryl Jones, of the ICI Lamp Company in Charlotte, said she supported the bill because she wants to protect her and others’ children from potentially harmful encounters in bathrooms. “I feel that this really is a danger for children. Anyone can dress up as a man and go in there, and people would have to escort their children to the bathroom,” she said in a phone call. “I just think this is the best thing to stay in place. I don’t want to hurt anybody, but it’s for safety of children.”

Jones suggested that if they wanted to, certain firms could provide porta johns for transgender and LGBT people. She believes Trans people have the ability to protect themselves in harmful situations, whereas children do not. “Have we gotten to a point that’s it’s so sad that we think of the 1 percent instead of the 99 percent? Sometimes I think it’s an agenda… I just believe that these transgender people are adults, and the children are not.”

When asked if she thought any of these restrictions echoed those put in place for black people prior to the civil rights movement, Jones exclaimed, “Heavens no!”

“Have we lost our common sense?” she asked.

The ACLU has described North Carolina’s law as “the most extreme anti-LGBT bill in the nation.” People can now be fired for being gay or transgender in the state, and people must use bathrooms for the sex found on their birth certificates.

Meanwhile, scores of ordinary North Carolinians are protesting the law—with bathroom selfies, of course.