Carolina was in the mind of the liberal New York Times this weekend. The state’s Republican governor Pat McCrory recently signed religious freedom legislation that included a provision stating people in government buildings must use the restroom associated with their biological sex, the one on their birth certificate. In other words, the way public bathrooms have always worked. The Times, naturally, saw bigotry against transgendesr and electoral doom.
Times reporter turned columnist Frank Bruni, who is openly gay, wrote a column on the state’s media-manufactured gay controversy in the paper’s Sunday Review, “The Republicans’ Gay Freakout.” The text box: “In North Carolina, the G.O.P. is playing an ugly, unwise game.”
Our infrastructure is inexcusable, much of our public education is miserable and one of our leading presidential candidates is a know-nothing, say-anything egomaniac who yanks harder every day at the tattered fabric of civil discourse and fundamental decency in this country.
But let’s by all means worry about the gays! Let’s make sure they know their place. Keep them in check and all else falls into line, or at least America notches one victory amid so many defeats.
That must be the thinking behind Republican efforts to push through so-called religious liberty laws and other legislation -- most egregiously in North Carolina -- that excuse and legitimize anti-gay discrimination. They’re cynical distractions. Politically opportunistic sideshows.
Bruni warned the GOP not to be on the wrong side of history on the matter of allowing men into women’s restrooms.
And the Republicans who are promoting them are playing a short game, not a long one, by refusing to acknowledge a clear movement in our society toward L.G.B.T. equality, a trajectory with only one shape and only one destination.
It takes forever in this country to build a new bridge, tunnel or train line, but it took no time flat for politicians in the Tar Heel State to convene a special session, formally ostracize North Carolina’s L.G.B.T. voters and wrap conservative Christians in a tight embrace. Who says America’s can-do spirit is dead?
The gay-rights front isn’t the only one on which there’s tension between the party and big business. The Republican primaries are awash in anti-immigrant sentiment and screed; corporate America generally backs immigration reform. The protectionism and nativism that have had such currency in the contest so far conflict with many corporations’ interests.
Too many of us L.G.B.T. Americans and our allies were too busy celebrating to stay alert to that. Too few of us acknowledged the tenaciousness of opponents who will resort to whatever they must, including the hallucinated specter of male sexual predators entering women’s restrooms, to sweep aside anti-discrimination laws that include us and to turn public sentiment against us.
Reporter Richard Fausset’s report from the states on Friday, “Rewards and Risks for G.O.P. Legislatures in Social Agenda,” also focused heavily on North Carolina with labeling slant against the "far right".
Congressional Republicans in the Obama era have largely been defined by their insistence on standing in front of the administration and yelling stop. Democrats call them the party of “no.”
But in state legislatures, Republicans are finding rewards and peril in being a vigorous party of “yes” when it comes to promoting conservative social issues. This year, in many of the 30 state legislatures under full Republican control, lawmakers continued to pass a number of new expansions of gun rights and groundbreaking restrictions on abortion. Perhaps most controversially, they also approved bills that opponents say would allow for discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people.
For social conservatives, the legislative wins are a bright spot in an otherwise troubling health report for the Republican Party.
But the risks were also evident this week in North Carolina, as a furor erupted over a new law that prohibits local anti-discrimination protections for gay, bisexual and transgender people and restricts transgender bathroom use. More than 90 chief executives, including Timothy D. Cook of Apple and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, have objected to the new law.
Democrats are hoping that such Republican stands on social issues, while politically helpful to state lawmakers in their heavily conservative districts, may underscore the Democratic contention that Republicans have veered too far to the right to win some statewide elections, keep their control of both houses of Congress and win back the presidency. The stakes are particularly high at a time when the Republican presidential primary brawl and Donald J. Trump’s candidacy have the potential to turn off women, independents and others whom Republicans need to succeed nationally.
Fausset found a professor to also go off on the “far-right.”
“The national Republican Party is trying not to lose three presidential elections in a row,” said William Boone, a political scientist at Clark Atlanta University. “The local guys are trying to maintain their right and sometimes far-right positions to be re-elected at the local level.”
On Saturday’s front page, reporters Matt Apuzzo and Alan Blinder eagerly forwarded a cynical White House blackmail shot across the state’s bow, “North Carolina May Risk Aid With Bias Law.”
The Obama administration is considering whether North Carolina’s new law on gay and transgender rights makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways and housing, officials said Friday.
Cutting off any federal money -- or even simply threatening to do so -- would put major new pressure on North Carolina to repeal the law, which eliminated local protections for gay and transgender people and restricted which bathrooms transgender people can use. A loss of federal money could send the state into a budget crisis and jeopardize services that are central to daily life.
Although experts said such a drastic step was unlikely, at least immediately, the administration’s review puts North Carolina on notice that the new law could have financial consequences. Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina had assured residents that the law would not jeopardize federal money for education.