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Durham Board of Commissioners condemn HB2; sheriff still silent

Marine Corps veteran and mother, Michelle Doss approached the Durham Board of County Commissioners last night with a simple plea to state lawmakers: “Let me be who I am. Let me be a free person.”

Two years ago, Doss came out as a transwoman, and used a woman’s bathroom. Under House Bill 2, she has to use a man’s bathroom, because she is listed as male on her birth certificate. “The law puts me in jeopardy,” she said. “Transitioning is a very delicate process. I’m a law-abiding citizen.”

There is no explicit criminal penalty for using the “wrong” bathroom, which makes its passage all the more absurd, and further builds the argument that HB2 is cover for even more pernicious economic and legally discriminatory prohibitions.

Commissioner Wendy Jacobs said she opposes the bill not only because it marginalizes transgender peopled, but also on the grounds that it is a “smokescreen for a labor bill. It takes away rights of every person to take discrimination to court state.”

The bill also prohibits municipalities from setting their own minimum wage if it exceeds the state's. In addition, North Carolinians can no longer sue on grounds of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in state court; plaintiffs now have to take those cases to federal court, which is more expensive and protracted.

In a strongly worded resolution, the BOCC unanimously  “condemned” passage of HB2. “It sends a message of intolerance, hurts the economy, hampers economic development and negatively impacts the prosperity of our citizens,” the resolution read in part. “It has adverse impact on efforts to support a livable wage. It is inconsistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and Title IX.”

The BOCC is sending a copy of the resolution to Gov. Pat McCrory and the House and Senate leadership.

“The passage of HB2 has clearly taken the state backward on human rights,” added Commissioner Ellen Reckhow. “I hope our citizens recognize that all of their elected officials are united in fighting to restore and protect rights of all of our citizens.”

Well, not all of the Durham’s elected officials:Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews said last week that he had no comment on HB2, the only high-profile elected official in Durham to remain silent on the issue.

Comments

Rick

I really am not looking to the Durham Sheriff for an opinion on any law one way or the other beyond how they plan on enforcing it. I'm proud of the commissioners who have condemned it and the lawyers who are fighting against it. Sheriffs aren't policymakers nor are they lawyers. The lack of specific penalties, whether it would be a ticket or an arrestable offense, is going to make it harder for them to enforce it. I would like a LEO perspective on that part but that's it. If the sheriff has a chance to put in a written statement for the court explaining how things play out from the LEO perspective I think that would be helpful. Don't need anything else from them though as it is not their job. I've followed the reaction of public officials from the beginning. Besides the NC Sheriff Association's support relating specifically to the bathroom issue, as well as individual sheriffs from rural areas supporting it in interviews, I haven't seen a story of any sheriff department officially commenting on it one way or the other. If Wake, Guilford, Mecklenburg, or any city LEO that I would suspect is against it has commented on it I must've missed it. With that in mind it seems unfair to single Durham's out.

Here is a list of all the companies who have supported it:
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/business/article69251877.html

Any in Durham County limits?

Lisa Sorg

@Rick: The reason I brought up the sheriff's silence is that the NC Sheriff's Association came out in favor of HB2, citing "security reasons." I wanted to know whether Sheriff Andrews shared that opinion or diverged from it.

Brian Hawkins

Rick's point is well taken, but I'd also like to hear the Sheriff's opinions on this, because Sheriff is an elected office.

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