- William Barberpresident and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach.
Last week, North Carolina lawmakers repealed the anti-trans law HB 2. But the new law is also facing criticism for discriminating against the LGBT community. The new law denies employment and housing protections for the LGBTQ community and prohibits municipal governments from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances through 2020. For more, we speak with Rev. Dr. William Barber, president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach and president of the NAACP in North Carolina.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Last week, North Carolina lawmakers repealed the anti-trans law, HB 2, but the new law is also facing criticism, and the NCAA is now weighing whether tournament games should be allowed in the state again. Under the new law, transgender people will be able to use the bathroom matching their gender identity, but municipal governments will be prohibited from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances through 2020. In addition, the law denies employment and housing protections to the LGBTQ community.
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the law, we’re joined by Reverend Dr. William Barber, president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach and also the president of the NAACP of North Carolina.
Reverend Barber, before we talk about this seminal week, the anniversary of Dr. King’s antiwar speech, 50th anniversary, here in New York, we wanted to get your take on what’s taken place right now in North Carolina with the repeal, kind of, of HB 2 and this new law put into place, HB 142.
REV. WILLIAM BARBER: Well, thank you so much, Amy, and good morning, also, Juan.
The part of what we hope is that the nation will really understand how we got here. First of all, this HB 2 bill was first passed by a all-white, extreme, Republican, Jim Crow caucus—and I want to say it just that clearly—led by Senator—Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Leader Tim Moore in North Carolina. Secondly, it was passed as an election ploy, just like the attempt in North Carolina some years ago to do the marriage amendment. It was passed to be a wedge issue during the election. Now, this is the same Legislature, Amy, that has 15 times passed bills that have been found unconstitutional. This is the same Legislature, the all-white Republican caucus, that passed the worst voter discrimination laws in the country and the worst redistricting laws since the 19th century, which have both been found unconstitutional. Same Legislature that denied Medicaid expansion in North Carolina. So, people need to understand that this is a pattern.
And the HB 2 law, we never referred to it as a “bathroom law,” because that was a ploy. The goal was to split the transgender community off. This bill is an anti-worker bill. It was an anti-worker bill. It was an anti-access to the court bill for even heterosexuals, because, since 1985, citizens of North Carolina could bring employment discrimination cases to the state courts. HB 2 removed that. It took away the ability of local municipalities to raise wages. And it was an anti-transgender bill. And it’s important for us to talk about it in that way, first to understand the history of the bill itself.
Now, the so-called repeal is not a repeal. It’s a Trojan horse. It’s a capitulation. It puts a moratorium on equal rights. It says, for three-and-a-half years, municipalities cannot pass nondiscrimination laws, cannot pass living wage laws. And then, after three-and-a-half years, certain laws can only be passed if the Legislature gives permission or an exemption to that municipality or that city or county. That is a violation of equal protection under the law, and it is—it is not a compromise, and it is not a repeal. It is a capitulation. It is a Trojan horse.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, Reverend Barber, what about this issue of the prominent role the NAACP has taken in this issue? And do you think—what the civil rights community can do to continue to keep the pressure on the NAACP—I’m sorry, on the NCAA to be able to keep the pressure on North Carolina?
REV. WILLIAM BARBER: Yeah, well, the NCAA and other groups, as well. First thing, we have to frame this right. I think progressives have got to be real careful of using the language of the people who started this. See, they wanted us to call it a “bathroom bill,” so that we did not look at how it was an interlocking of injustices in that bill that can actually bring communities together. So, one of the things we have said, our role in the NAACP is that—is to look at the bill in its totality. It is a triune discriminatory bill. It is not just one community. They wanted to highlight that. We should highlight the fact it’s anti-worker, anti-transgender, anti-gay and anti-access to the court. Even disabled veterans and heterosexuals were hurt by HB 2.
Secondly, the NAACP right now has a major task force where we are examining whether or not we will call for a full escalation and boycott of North Carolina, but not just because of HB 2 or this non-repeal, but also because this same Legislature attempted to strip power from the incoming governor, which is one of the things that confuses us, is: Why would the current governor sign off on this, when we just fought a battle, and we’re fighting a battle, of the same Legislature trying to strip power from him? We’re saying that because this state Legislature has refused to follow the court in redrawing our district lines and having special elections, because we have an unconstitutionally constituted Legislature, because of the ways they’ve tried to engage in a legislative coup d’état, because of the way they have tried to stack the court and because of the implications of HB 2 and this false repeal, we are considering a full-blown boycott. And we’ve already basically said we would not put forth bringing our own national convention to North Carolina.
You know, Amy and Juan, this is very serious, because when we start saying that you can put a moratorium on civil rights, that should cause every North Carolinian outrage and concern. When we start saying that we’re going to give to a state Legislature the power to say yes or no to local municipalities who want to engage in nondiscrimination laws, who want to increase their living wages for their citizens, that should trouble us all. So we should see this as a civil rights issue, as a moral issue, as a gay issue, as a workers’ right issue, as a bad piece of legislation that all people should be against.