The Jewish Response to North Carolina's 'Bathroom Bill' Makes Me Proud – Kveller
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The Jewish Response to North Carolina’s ‘Bathroom Bill’ Makes Me Proud

For those of you who haven’t been following the news, Twitter, Facebook, or John Oliver, the North Carolina legislature passed HB2 in a “special session” on March 23, 2016 and Governor Pat McCrory signed into law the same day.

The response both in North Carolina and around the country has been swift. HB2 has been called the “bathroom bill” because it states that transgender people must use the bathroom that corresponds with their biological sex (the parts they were born with) and not their gender identity. I don’t know how this will be enforced—and I’ve seen plenty of cringe-worthy jokes about the “genital police.”

I’ve been in North Carolina since 2003, and there’s a lot to love here. The people, the soft accents, fireflies at sunset, and our beaches and mountains. I may be a Jersey girl at heart, but North Carolina is my home now. And I’m personally appalled at HB 2 and at the government that passed it.

The governor has stated his concerns that a man, dressed as a woman, would use laws like the Charlotte non-discrimination law to enter a women’s bathroom and sexually assault little girls or women. To date, this has NEVER happened, and when you look at Southern history, the “who uses what bathroom” is a very fraught topic stemming back to segregated toilets. In both cases, it comes down to fear and marginalizing vulnerable populations.

In addition to the most obvious and offensive provisions in the bill regarding the LBTGQ community, HB 2 removes protections for workers—any worker—to sue for discrimination in state court. It also prohibits municipalities in North Carolina from enacting their own minimum wage standards above the state minimum wage, and prevents municipalities from enacting their own anti-discrimination laws.

The economic response was swift. Paypal nixed an expansion in Charlotte that would have created 400 jobs. Bruce Springsteen canceled a sold-out concert in Greensboro, stating, “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry—which is happening as I write—is one of them.”

I am proud to say that the Jewish response has been fast and powerful as well. The Board of Trustees of Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh, led by Rabbi Eric Solomon, issued a strong statement against HB 2 which says in part:

“Throughout our history, Jews have been victims of discrimination and genocide, all too often at the hands of governments. We have a profound understanding that to remain silent in the face of discrimination, intolerance or hate directed at anyone on the basis of who they are is to condone and invite such evil directed at us all.” 

Carolina Jews for Justice spoke at a Moral Monday Rally on April 25 at the North Carolina statehouse and Rabbi Lucy Dinner, of Temple Beth Or in Raleigh, said, “It is our obligation to stand up against oppression, to stand up against hate, to keep the struggle for freedom and equality for all.”

In addition Carolina Jews for Justice organized a news conference at the Legislative Building, led by North Carolina rabbis on Tuesday, April 26, the fourth day of Passover. Rabbis from all over the state joined together to discuss why we, as Jews, are obligated during this Passover season to oppose a bill that codifies discrimination.

And now, more than 40 rabbis from North Carolina have signed a statement opposing HB 2. This includes rabbis from the bigger cities of Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, and Charlotte, but also from smaller congregations in more isolated communities.

So yes, I am appalled what’s currently going on in my state, but as I take a step back, I am very proud to be a Jewish North Carolinian. My community has come together and we have united in agreement that HB2 is wrong and must be repealed.

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