Ge­or­gia LGBTs help­ing fight ‘re­li­gious free­dom’ bills around South

GA Voice - - Georgia News -

On the morn­ing of March 28, when Ge­or­gia Gov. Nathan Deal ve­toed House Bill 757, the con­tro­ver­sial anti-LGBT so-called “re­li­gious free­dom” bill, it was the end of the lat­est chap­ter of a lo­cal fight against such leg­is­la­tion. But the work con­tin­ued for lo­cal LGBT ac­tivists and or­ga­ni­za­tions fight­ing sim­i­lar bills in other states across the South.

Case in point was the an­nounce­ment that same day by Lambda Le­gal that they along with sev­eral other or­ga­ni­za­tions were fil­ing a law­suit on be­half of three plain­tiffs chal­leng­ing North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law, House Bill 2. The lead at­tor­ney on the case? None other than At­lanta’s own Tara Borelli.

HB 2 took ef­fect im­me­di­ately af­ter North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed it into law on March 23 fol­low­ing a spe­cial ses­sion of the state leg­is­la­ture ear­lier that day. Among other things, it pro­hibits mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties from en­act­ing nondis­crim­i­na­tion laws that aren’t cov­ered by statewide nondis­crim­i­na­tion laws (wip­ing out a num­ber of nondis­crim­i­na­tion or­di­nances across the state that in­cluded pro­tec­tions for the LGBT com­mu­nity) and re­quires trans­gen­der peo­ple to use the bath­rooms that match the gen­der marker on their birth cer­tifi­cate.

“HB 2 is an ex­traor­di­nar­ily tar­geted and dis­crim­i­na­tory law,” Borelli told Ge­or­gia Voice. “It was rammed through a spe­cial leg­isla­tive ses­sion through a host of un­usual and ir­reg­u­lar pro­ce­dural cir­cum­stances.”

That’s one point Lambda Le­gal, along with the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union, ACLU of North Carolina and Equal­ity North Carolina, will make with their suit since the speed at which a law is rushed through has been a fac­tor in prior cases such as this. They’re also claim­ing that the law vi­o­lates the equal pro­tec­tion and due process clauses of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion and vi­o­lates Ti­tle IX laws.

Gov­er­nor’s move a ‘band-aid of an ex­ec­u­tive or­der’

On April 12, fac­ing mount­ing pres­sure from the pub­lic and the busi­ness com­muni-

April 15, 2016

ty in par­tic­u­lar, McCrory is­sued an ex­ec­u­tive ac­tion ex­pand­ing the state em­ployee pol­icy to cover sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity, but among other things it still left in the part of the bill that forces trans­gen­der peo­ple to use the re­stroom that matches their gen­der marker—which is very dif­fi­cult to change.

“It’s hard to put into words how painful and ter­ri­fy­ing this kind of re­quire­ment is for trans­gen­der peo­ple in the state, in­clud­ing some of the plain­tiffs we rep­re­sent,” Borelli said.

Lambda Le­gal staff at­tor­ney Kyle Palazzolo called the move a “band-aid of an ex­ec­u­tive or­der.”

The suit is in the pre­lim­i­nary stages right now but Borelli says they are rac­ing to pre­pare to ask the court to pro­hibit the law by ju­di­cial or­der.

“HB 2 is hurt­ful and de­mean­ing. I just want to go to work and live my life. This law puts me in the ter­ri­ble po­si­tion of ei­ther go­ing into the women’s room where I clearly don’t be­long or break­ing the law,” said plain­tiff Joaquín Car­caño in a state­ment. “But this is about more than re­strooms, this is about my job, my com­mu­nity, and my abil­ity to get safely through my day and be pro­duc­tive like ev­ery­one else in North Carolina.”

While Lambda Le­gal and other groups fight HB 2 in the courts, lo­cals from queer lib­er­a­tion group South­ern­ers On New Ground (SONG) are tak­ing to the streets. Lo­cal trans woman Micky Brad­ford, a re­gional or­ga­nizer for SONG, has been on the ground in North Carolina as part of the grow­ing op­po­si­tion to the bill.

“We’ve mo­bi­lized a lot of the folks in our base in North Carolina. We’ve worked in coali­tion with the groups who are black and brown LGBTQ-led on the ground in North Carolina, and we’ve been lend­ing a lot of le­gal ad­vice through our col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Trans­gen­der Law Cen­ter,” Brad­ford told Ge­or­gia Voice.

Brad­ford also gained no­tice for some­thing that had so­cial me­dia buzzing for days. Video emerged of her help­ing lead a re­cent protest against the bill in front of the gov­er­nor’s man­sion in Raleigh, and as a pound­ing drum­beat be­gan, Brad­ford put aside her bull­horn and be­gan vogu­ing right in front of a line of po­lice of­fi­cers.

“It was a mo­ment where I was tired af­ter be­ing one of the many folks hold­ing down that di­rect ac­tion and pro­tect­ing the folks who risked ar­rest. But also mak­ing sure the crowd there was guided in chants and guided in our mis­sion. It was the end of things, we had just got­ten folks out of the street and back onto the side­walk,” Brad­ford said. “I was re­ally tired and folks from the Black Lives Mat­ter Queer and Trans Peo­ple of Color Coali­tion were drum­ming and I was re­ally feel­ing the beat and I felt like in this mo­ment, I’m just gonna have fun with my folks. We know this back­lash falls the heav­i­est on black and brown queer and trans peo­ple and I was just feel­ing be­ing with my peo­ple in that mo­ment and that’s what comes out when you get with your folks.”

Next up is a day of ac­tion planned for April 25, when the North Carolina leg­is­la­ture is sched­uled to come back into their reg­u­lar ses­sion.

Brad­ford and SONG are also pitch­ing in to help fight anti-LGBT “re­li­gious free­dom” bills in Mis­sis­sippi, South Carolina and Ten­nessee.

“And if some­thing pops up in Ge­or­gia again,” Brad­ford said, “Uhh Lord.”

By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS

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