HB2 more than just bathrooms

It was a clear message to indicate that if the General Assembly does not like a local law, they can, and will, simply change it to better suit their desires.

Vitriol continues to cloud the North Carolina political landscape as leaders within the state legislature continue to defend recently passed House Bill 2.

The primary focus of the uproar has been the first section of the bill, which defines the proper restroom facility each resident of North Carolina must use based on his or her gender at birth. While that issue is certainly important, and has enraged the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender communities in all corners of the state, the larger issue lies with who is calling the shots for voters.

Every year, citizens choose their government leaders at the polls. There are elections at the municipal, county, state and federal levels, and the premise of our American democracy has always been that leaders on all four levels get to have some say in the decision making within the territory they govern.

That premise is fading fast, and the latest blow comes via House Bill 2.

In February, the Charlotte City Council passed an ordinance allowing people to use the restroom of the gender with which they identify. Whether anyone agrees with that policy or not, it was put in place by an elected board that is held accountable by the voters of the city.

If a majority of people in Charlotte opposed the ordinance, they could vote for new board members in 2017 and have the ordinance repealed through the proper political process.

Unwilling to wait that long, and with a dominant majority party in both the House and Senate, the state legislature decided to take matters into its own hands and overrule the Charlotte ordinance with House Bill 2. To be clear, the legislature has the legal authority to do so because the state constitution essentially declares that the decision-making power of municipalities and counties is given to those entities by the state and that state laws supersede local laws and ordinances.

To boil things down even further, the state used House Bill 2 to take power away from local governing bodies. It was a clear message to indicate that if the General Assembly does not like a local law, they can, and will, simply change it to better suit their desires.

Once the train of power starts rolling down the tracks, it is a slippery slope.

(This editorial first appeared in Chronicle sister paper The Franklin Press. The views within are shared by the Chronicle’s editorial board.)

 

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