mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Walk Tall, Or Baby, Don’t Walk At All”: North Carolina May Never See A Celebrity Again

When it comes to fighting anti-LGBT legislation in North Carolina and Mississippi, the entertainment industry has been running laps around sports leagues and putting corporate America to shame.

Yes, PayPal withdrew 400 planned jobs from the Tar Heel State in response to HB 2, which banned local LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances and required transgender people to use public bathrooms matching their birth certificates, but most major companies have simply signed a strongly worded letter to Gov. Pat McCrory asking for the law to be repealed.

After Mississippi’s HB 1523 was passed, many of these same companies sent a similar letter to Gov. Phil Bryant, urging him to repeal the law without detailing any specific consequences for leaving it in place.

But an emerging crew of entertainers isn’t content with this wait-and-see approach. By taking swift and decisive steps, they’re proving how little pro-LGBT press releases mean without concrete actions to back them up.

As soon as HB 2 was passed, for instance, actor and filmmaker Rob Reiner promised that he would “not film another production in North Carolina” until the law is repealed. CEOs take note: Reiner took action immediately and listed a punishment along with a specific condition.

Then, last week, Bruce Springsteen canceled a North Carolina show, highlighting the law’s horrifying anti-transgender provision in his statement. By contrast, the multi-company letter coordinated by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality North Carolina does not specifically address this first-in-the-nation attack on transgender rights.

The Boss called his announcement “the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”

Canadian singer Bryan Adams followed in Springsteen’s footsteps shortly thereafter, nixing a scheduled Mississippi concert to protest the state’s sweeping anti-LGBT law. On Facebook, he explained that he “cannot in good conscience perform in a state where certain people are being denied their civil rights due to their sexual orientation.”

And this past weekend, comedian and Community star Joel McHale went ahead with a North Carolina performance but wore an “LGBTQ” shirt and donated all of his proceeds to a local LGBT center. In video taken from the show, McHale asks, “What the fuck is wrong with your government here, you guys?”

It’s not just individual celebrities who are taking decisive steps, either. Lionsgate canceled Charlotte shooting plans and A+E Studios has promised “not [to] consider North Carolina for any new productions” once shooting ends on a new show they are filming around Wilmington. Even porn giant xHamster is now banning all North Carolina IP addresses in order to put pressure on the state to change course.

Outside of the entertainment world, however, condemnation of the anti-LGBT laws may have been sudden and widespread but punitive actions have been fewer and further between.

The NBA could have summarily pulled the 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte. It didn’t. Instead, the league sent out a statement calling HB 2 discriminatory but also cautiously noting that they “do not yet know what impact it will have” on the All-Star plans.

The NCAA is set to host Division I basketball tournament games in North Carolina over the next two years but, instead of relocating the games, the association pledged to “continue to monitor current events.”

The NFL is moving ahead with a May team owners meeting in Charlotte, justifying their decision based on the city council’s support of LGBT rights.

In sum, the major leagues are talking a big game but that’s about it. Their equivocating statements prompted Outsports’ Jim Buzinski to write that “sports leagues shouldn’t say another word about their ‘support’ unless it’s accompanied by action.” Or, as any good coach will tell you, talk is cheap.

Major corporations haven’t been much bolder, largely threatening to “reconsider” or “reevaluate” business in the offending states. Over one hundred businesses have signed on to the HRC letters but the more time passes, the emptier their words become. So far, only a select few businesses have gone beyond mere criticism of HB 2 and HB 1523.

The High Point Market Authority, which has been estimated to have an annual economic impact of $5.38 billion in North Carolina, warned last month that they could lose “hundreds and perhaps thousands of customers” at their annual spring furniture market. And Google Ventures CEO Bill Maris indicated in early April that he would not greenlight investments in any North Carolina startups “until the voters there fix this.”

Springsteen set a high bar for courage that few in the business world have been able to match.

This isn’t the first time that the entertainment industry has taken point in anti-LGBT legislative tussles. In March, Disney—and by extension Marvel—promised to end film production in Georgia if Gov. Nathan Deal did not veto a so-called “religious freedom” law that passed the state legislature.

“[W]e will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” the company wrote in a definitive statement.

The NFL, on the other hand, vaguely hinted that they might not host the Super Bowl in Georgia but their official statement was embarrassingly circumlocutory.

“Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with [NFL non-discrimination] policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites,” said league spokesman Brian McCarthy.

In March of 2015, when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed an anti-LGBT “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” a few companies like the business review website Angie’s List, which axed a $40 million expansion, made powerful moves.

But in what should by now be a familiar pattern, many corporate leaders chastised the governor without deploying any economic sanctions. The discrepancy prompted Fast Company to make a list of the “companies that are actually boycotting Indiana, not just tweeting about it.”

Among the only key players who actually acted before the Indiana legislature revised the discriminatory law were musicians and actors. The indie rock group Wilco pulled the plug on a show in Indianapolis. Parks and Recreation star Nick Offerman announced he would donate his proceeds from an Indiana University show to the HRC and canceled a subsequent performance in the state.

Repeated entanglements over LGBT rights in the South have proved that governors may not sympathize with LGBT rights but they do respond to economic pressure. So long as corporate leaders remain hesitant to pull out of North Carolina, they will be locked in a game of economic chicken with a state government that does not seem eager to reverse HB 2.

Gov. McCrory’s re-election campaign has claimed that many businesses support the anti-transgender law and one state representative, Ken Goodman, seems more than willing to see if anyone will make good on their threats.

“April Market is not a vacation,” he tweeted in response to the High Point story. “It is critical for buyers. They’ll come.”

It has been illegal for many transgender people to use the right public restrooms in North Carolina for nearly three weeks. Anti-LGBT discrimination has been not just legal, but endorsed by the state of Mississippi, for almost two. At this point, signing a letter is no longer a proportional response to bigotry.

As Bruce himself once sang, “Walk tall, or baby, don’t walk at all.”

 

By: Samantha Allen, The Daily Beast, April 12, 2016

April 13, 2016 Posted by | Discrimination, LGBT, North Carolina, Pat McCrory | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It’s Not Your Imagination”: North Carolina Cracks Down On Local Anti-Discrimination Policies

North Carolina’s state legislature wasn’t supposed to be in session this week, but the Republican-led chambers rushed back to work for a special, taxpayer-financed session, focused solely on one key issue.

The issue, oddly enough, related to the use of public bathrooms.

North Carolina legislators decided to rein in local governments by approving a bill Wednesday that prevents cities and counties from passing their own anti-discrimination rules. Gov. Pat McCrory later signed the legislation, which dealt a blow to the LGBT movement after success with protections in cities across the country.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly took action after Charlotte city leaders last month approved a broad anti-discrimination measure. Critics focused on language in the ordinance that allowed transgender people to use the restroom aligned with their gender identity.

If steps like these seem to be happening with increasing frequency, it’s not your imagination. A variety of cities have approved higher minimum wages, only to have states pass laws to block municipalities from acting on their own. Some cities have tried to pass paid sick-leave for workers in their area, only to have states change the law to prohibit such steps.

And a month ago, the city of Charlotte banned discrimination against LGBT citizens, only to learn a month later that the state had not only scrapped the local measure, but also changed state law to prevent any city from expanding protections against discrimination.

As we discussed earlier this week, contemporary conservatism is generally committed to the idea that the government that’s closest to the people – literally, geographically – is best able to respond to the public’s needs. As much as possible, officials should try to shift power and resources away to local authorities.

Except, that is, when communities consider progressive measures Republicans don’t like, at which point those principles are quickly thrown out the window.

So, let this be a lesson to everyone: when officials in Washington tell states what to do, it’s an outrageous abuse and clear evidence of government overreach. When states tell cities what to do, it’s protecting conservative principles.

And in this case, the new North Carolina policy is a mess. The Associated Press’ report added:

Gay rights leaders and transgender people said the legislation demonizes the community and espouses bogus claims about increasing the risk of sexual assaults. They say the law will deny lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people essential protections needed to ensure they can get a hotel room, hail a taxi or dine at a restaurant without fear.

“McCrory’s reckless decision to sign this appalling legislation into law is a direct attack on the rights, well-being and dignity of hundreds of thousands of LGBT North Carolinians and visitors to the state,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement.

Vox’s report called the new North Carolina measure, signed into law last night, a legislative package that combines “some of the most anti-LGBTQ measures proposed in the US, codifying the legality of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity into law.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 24, 2016

March 25, 2016 Posted by | Discrimination, North Carolina Legislature, Pat McCrory | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Retention Voting System”: A Judicial Election Threatened North Carolina Republicans’ Agenda. So They Canceled The Election

Until recently, North Carolina Republicans had a problem. Some of their biggest legislative achievements of the past few years, including a restrictive voter ID law and weakened environmental regulations, were heading for review before the state Supreme Court. Right now, conservative justices hold a tenuous 4-3 majority on that court. But one of the conservative justices was up for re-election in 2016—before several of these matters would reach the court—and he was not guaranteed to win. This meant the Republicans’ policy agenda was at risk.

So the Republican-controlled state legislature decided to change the rules of the game. On a party-line vote, the state Senate and House this month passed a bill that does away with that justice’s upcoming election and effectively ensures that conservative justices will retain their majority on the state’s highest court for years to come. Last week, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed the measure into law.

Justices in North Carolina face re-election every eight years. Under the new law, after winning his or her first election, a state Supreme Court justice can now opt for an up-or-down retention vote without facing a challenger. In other states with retention votes, justices rarely lose. With this new measure, if a North Carolina justice fails to reach 50 percent in the retention vote, the governor will appoint a replacement for a two-year term before an open election is held to fill the seat.

So Justice Robert Edmunds Jr., the conservative justice whose term runs out next year, can now opt for a retention vote and not worry about an opponent. If he comes up short, McCrory will appoint a two-year replacement, presumably another conservative who is sympathetic to the GOP laws recently implemented.

Democrats in the state called the new law an “obvious” attempt to help one justice keep his seat. Republicans claim they merely want to help stanch the increasing flow of money into judicial elections—a nationwide trend that has many advocates worried about the impartiality of state judges. People are tired “of seeing millions of dollars spent electing a member of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals,” one of the bill’s Republican sponsors told the Raleigh-based News & Observer.

But Republicans actually helped open the door to more money in judicial elections that they now say they want to close. In 2013, GOP state legislators repealed a public financing system that Democrats had put in place for state Supreme Court and appellate court candidates. Under the public financing system, judicial candidates didn’t have to appeal to donors who might have an interest in the outcome of cases, though this didn’t inoculate judicial elections from the nationwide spike in outside spending that followed the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

“The same Republican majority that repealed judicial public financing in 2013 is unhappy with the election in 2014 [in which three Democrats won Supreme Court races] and then turns around and rigs judicial races in North Carolina under the guise that they are trying to get rid of big money in judicial elections,” says Melissa Price Kromm, director of the North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections Coalition, a group that advocates public financing in state elections. “It is a partisan, political power grab.”

The Republican move to end public financing and implement the new retention-vote system is “a disturbing trend,” says Bob Phillips, the executive director of the North Carolina chapter of Common Cause, a nonpartisan good-government group. “We don’t want to see the highest court in our state gamed by whatever party holds power in the legislature.”

There’s no indication this new system will keep money out of North Carolina’s judicial elections, says Billy Corriher, an expert in money in state courts at the left-leaning Center for American Progress. “In other states where this kind of system is used, judges still have to raise a ton of campaign cash,” he says.

North Carolina isn’t the first state where Republicans have sought to protect their agenda by making changes to the state’s top court. In Kansas, where the state Supreme Court could upset a series of draconian tax cuts championed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, conservative lawmakers have put forward a number of proposals that would effectively pack the state Supreme Court with sympathetic conservative justices. As part of this ongoing power struggle, Republicans made funding for the entire court system contingent on a favorable ruling from the courts on a law passed last year that weakened the state Supreme Court’s authority.

The next few years will be busy ones for North Carolina’s Supreme Court. In April, the US Supreme Court threw out a ruling by North Carolina’s top court upholding Republican-drawn congressional and state legislative districts, ordering the state Supreme Court to re-examine the case with special consideration for whether Republicans relied too heavily on race in drawing the new maps. Civil rights groups had challenged the maps on the grounds that they deliberately diluted the African American vote in the state.

In 2010, Republicans took control of North Carolina’s legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. In 2012, they won the governorship, too, and set about to reform just about every area of public policy. They slashed tax rates, cut teacher pay, gutted environmental regulations, restricted abortion access, weakened gun safety laws, and even passed an anti-Shariah law for good measure. Challenges to some of their initiatives—rules easing fracking restrictions, a highly restrictive voter ID law, the redrawn district map, and a school voucher program—are working their way through state courts. Ultimately, the state’s top court—now with a guaranteed GOP-friendly majority for the next three years—could have the final say on these controversial measures.

 

By: Pema Levy, Bill Moyers Blog, Moyers and Company, June 18, 2015

 

 

 

June 21, 2015 Posted by | Judicial Elections, North Carolina Legislature, Pat McCrory | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

%d bloggers like this: