By Dr. Mark Creech
Christian Action League
March 31, 2017
Thursday, the North Carolina General Assembly repealed the controversial HB 2, commonly known as the “bathroom law.” Lawmakers had been under horrendous pressure from Left-leaning influences since its passage more than a year ago.
The repeal was not straight-up, however. It was touted as a compromise. And though some people on both sides of the issues represented in HB 2 may claim victory, compromises typically also represent partial defeats. This means, at least for the moment, supporters of HB 2 have suffered losses.
Here’s what’s been lost in the repeal of HB 2, as I see it.
- There is now no longer any explicit statewide policy about bathrooms and changing facilities. With respect to who is and isn’t allowed in the restroom or changing facility, the repeal takes us back to where the state was before Charlotte passed its egregious ordinance. This would include some penalties for trespassing, indecent exposure, peeping, etc.
- HB 2 blocked local governments from requiring “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) policies for those who wanted to contract business with them. Roy Cooper contends cities and county governments are now free to apply such requirements. HB 2 had removed all doubt that these laws were invalidated. This is no longer the case.
Note: Sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) laws create serious problems for free markets and contracts, free speech, and religious liberty. They threaten citizens with penalties and liabilities for alleged “discrimination” based on purely subjective identities, and not objective, verifiable, and demonstrative traits.
- HB 2 blocked “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) provisions from being added to local nondiscrimination laws relating to private employment practices and regulation of public accommodations. The new law, HB 142 – Reset of SL 2017-4, prohibits any such ordinances from being passed until December of 2020; but after that date, any local governments would be free to enact provisions like those passed in Charlotte in February of 2016.
This is granting a right to local governments that never actually existed in North Carolina, and that HB 2 clarified could not be exercised. Some assert the moratorium imposed by the new law, HB 142, on such local ordinances until 2020 will allow time for the courts to resolve these issues, but that still may not happen, and the prohibition will disappear.
- Because of their opposition to HB 2, the NCAA, business interests, and other groups have held our state’s economy hostage to its demands. Repealing HB 2 likely emboldens them, as well as possibly others, for additional acts of extortion, which may or may not be related to HB 2.
- By repealing HB 2, the state loses the moral high ground it established. Repeal introduces doubt as to HB 2’s intent and rightness from the beginning. As N.C. Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest has said, “Such ambiguity undercuts the legitimacy of the law.” HB 2 was reasonable and common sense legislation.
- In repealing HB 2, North Carolina has forfeited its leadership in its stand against the redefinition of sex and gender. HB 2 has always been about much more than bathrooms. Its core issue is the way our culture will ultimately define sex and gender.
Recently, on the Family Research Council’s Washington Watch, former N.C. Governor Pat McCrory asked the question, “Are we going to change the definition of gender or not?…[T]hat shouldn’t be a decision made by a mayor or a governor or by the NCAA.” McCrory is right, but it really shouldn’t be decided by the courts either. Instead, it should be decided by the people. North Carolina addressed the question in its duly elected representatives who approved HB 2. HB 142 essentially defers the question to be answered or molded by the courts’ rulings within the next four years.
It’s inconsistent to bitterly complain about activist judges, but then pass the decision to the courts.
In a great crisis of Martin Luther’s life, when he was standing firmly and alone for a conviction that he refused to surrender, the Protestant reformer was furiously met with a powerful opponent. “Do you realize,” asked the opponent, “what you are doing and what powers you are defying?” Luther’s adversary further taunted him, saying, “Surely you don’t expect any force worth mentioning to take up arms and defend you.”
“No, I think not,” Luther replied meekly.
“Then where will you be?” thundered the dignitary challenging him. “Where will you be?!!”
Luther then answered in words that went to the very heart of things, “I shall be where I have always been – in the hands of Almighty God.”
This has been the heart of the HB 2 matter, in my humble opinion. Our state stood out as a bright beacon for the entire nation, even the world, because we did the right thing. Our case was never really in the hands of the NCAA, celebrities, corporate groups, equality activist organizations, a Leftist media or Progressive courts; it was in the hands of an Almighty God.
Perhaps the greatest loss may be that we preempted God’s help and took matters into our own hands before his deliverance arrived.
Read Dr. Creech’s previous editorial: HB 2: Tempted by the Concessions of Fear
Some Republicans who voted for repeal, vehemently argue they did so for reasons of strategy. Perhaps they’re right. Time will either prove or disprove the wisdom of their strategy. But for whatever its worth, I’ve never believed giving up ground is the means for gaining more of it.
This is why I believe much adulation should be given to those stalwart Republicans who unwaveringly held the line. Ten stood fast in the Senate. Thirty-three wouldn’t budge in the House.
Their position was best characterized in Senator Dan Bishop’s (R-Mecklenburg) remarks on the Senate floor. Bishop said the bill which replaced HB 2 was “at best a punt…at worst a betrayal of principle.”
Perhaps the Lord will save us yet, because of the faithfulness of Bishop and the others like him.
Perhaps the Lord will save us yet, because whether principled or unprincipled in our actions, he knows that we are but flesh and relishes in demonstrating his grace.
I’m praying for grace.
Rev. Mark Creech is executive director of the Raleigh-based Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.