By now, you have probably heard of the law that North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed into law last week. It’s a stridently anti-LGBT law couched under the oft-heard refrain of “religious liberty” these days. You and I, however, might simply summarize the law as the “North Carolina Republicans Have Enough Time on Their Hands to Wring Them Over Where Transgender People Pee and Poop.” Despite not having any statistics to back it up, McCrory and his fellow Republicans in the Palmetto state are insisting the decision to force people to use the bathroom designed for their biological gender is about protecting kids and vulnerable people from bathroom related assaults.
I’ve already written about the ethical and moral hypocrisy of Mr. McCrory being in favor of small government and then using the power of said government to dictate where someone micturates in another piece, but I thought something else should be noted in this space as well. Governor McCrory can be rightly be called many things. Bigot. Transphobe. But you can’t call him one thing, or at least you can’t if you have a scrap of intellectual honesty in you, and that’s “fiscally responsible.”
For starters, the law is almost certainly unconstitutional. The 14th Amendment says you can’t single out people unjustly in your legislation. Since there is no compelling evidence that people using a bathroom not designed for their birth gender raises the risk of assault, what is the argument? It’s purely a personal morality issue, and we have the First Amendment for a reason. Religious freedoms are not supposed to be an umbrella under which you can stuff anything you want to do; there are limits to every right, and the freedom of religion is one. So when the Supreme Court gets involved, and I think it’s fairly safe to assume it will be since McCrory and the state have already been sued over the law, how many millions will the state government spend to defend something that will ultimately be overturned anyway?
But even if you ignore the legal costs of defending this horrific law, you’re going to be faced with the economic impact this law is going to have on North Carolina. Just today it was reported by The Huffington Post and several other outlets that 80 different huge companies have signed onto what is effectively a boycott of the state. Corporations such as Facebook, Apple, AirBNB, Yahoo, Pfizer, Levi Strauss, and many more sent a strongly worded letter to McCrory basically warning him of the impact that not having their business would have on his state.
“This is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development,” the leaders wrote. “We believe that HB 2 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the country.” (source)
Cynics will of course argue that these companies are only pandering to LGBT+ rights advocates. What those critics are ignoring of course is just how many LGBT+ supporters there are, and that they/we are the dominant opinion in America now. Social conservatives get cloistered into their little bubbles and mistake the amplification of their own voices with having the overwhelming support of the rest of us.
But I wonder, do so-called fiscal conservatives think it’s good to piss off companies like Marriott? Maybe Apple wasn’t going to put a new factory in North Carolina, but something tells me losing the business of the hotel giant is another story. Tourism is money, and if people don’t have anywhere to stay when they’re visiting your state, well, your state’s economy suffers.
Over my years writing about the American political scene, both satirically and in these opinion pieces, I have never encountered an instance of Republican hypocrisy that surprised me. Governor McCrory’s actions belie several classic examples of Republican hypocrisy. They decry the size of government needed for the welfare state, but have no problem writing laws that give the government new powers over your bathroom habits. They decry the fiscal irresponsibility of “tax and spend” Democrats, but yet they have no problem writing laws that they know full-well will not pass constitutional muster, especially now that Supreme Bigot Scalia is six feet under.
The unsurprising nature of his hypocrisy not withstanding, one just hopes that moderate voters in North Carolina punish him and his party the next chance they get. But all things being equal, that’s not a result I’m going to be holding my breath for.