Grand Strand LGBT community leader upset with new N.C. anti-discrimination law

Grand Strand LGBT community leader upset with new N.C. anti-discrimination law

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The director of TAKEOVER Grand Strand and many others are outraged with a new law in North Carolina excluding LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning or intersex) people from discrimination protection.

"It's my understanding that this is one of the worst anti-LGBT bills in the nation," Terry Livingston said.

The North Carolina General Assembly held a special meeting Wednesday and by that night, Gov. Pat McCrory had signed the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act into law.

This act not only leaves out gender identity and sexual orientation from its anti-discrimination clause, but it also bars any cities or counties from enforcing their own anti-discrimination policies.

The city of Charlotte had passed an anti-discrimination ordinance that would have become effective April 1, essentially making it illegal for public accommodations, such as bathrooms, or businesses open to the public to discriminate against people for their gender identity, but the new state law supersedes that.

In a statement, Governor McCrory said:

"The basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings, a restroom or locker room, for each gender was violated by government overreach and intrusion by the mayor and city council of Charlotte. This radical breach of trust and security under the false argument of equal access not only impacts the citizens of Charlotte but people who come to Charlotte to work, visit or play. This new government regulation defies common sense and basic community norms by allowing, for example, a man to use a woman's bathroom, shower or locker room. While local municipalities have important priorities working to oversee police, fire, water and sewer, zoning, roads, and transit, the mayor and city council took action far out of its core responsibilities. As a result, I have signed legislation passed by a bipartisan majority to stop this breach of basic privacy and etiquette, which was to go into effect April 1. Although other items included in this bill should have waited until regular session, this bill does not change existing rights under state or federal law. It is now time for the city of Charlotte elected officials and state elected officials to get back to working on the issues most important to our citizens."

Several pro-equality groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, issued a statement saying they're considering legal action against this law.

Livingston said the manner in which the bill passed concerns him.

"It was simply they were in panic mode and they passed a resolution without hardly thinking about it," he said.

The content of the bill also has Livingston and others in the LGBT community outraged, specifically where the bill bans people from using a bathroom other than what's assigned to their biological sex.

"Someone from all outward appearances, they appear to be a male, but the law now says they need to go into the women's restroom," Livingston said. "I really don't think the public is going to be happy with that outcome either."

Livingston praised Myrtle Beach City Council members for passing an amendment in 2014 to the city's anti-discrimination resolution to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identification when it comes to housing, education, administration of justice, employment and public accommodations within the city.

"We're proud the city did that and we hope South Carolina as a state doesn't decide to follow suit with North Carolina and do something that would override what the city has done here for us," he said.

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