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Once again, we need to read between the lines and maybe, just maybe, read the lines themselves, rather than let the media do the reading and interpreting for us. The new law passed in North Carolina is more than just a law regulating the use of public bathrooms in the state.

At the time of the Boston marathon bombing, we had a very interesting discussion at our dining room table to explain to the boys why, as horrible as it might seem at that time, that the suspected bomber needed to have his rights protected. The basic reason, is because they are your rights and my rights too. It is a very slippery slope that we go down when we think it’s okay to take away one person’s rights or deny one his or her rights. While it might seem perfectly fine under one circumstance (think the marathon bomber), what happens when it’s your turn and your rights that are up for grabs? Not so okay now is it? Like it or not, the rights we have apply to all of us, not just the ones that we pick and choose under the circumstances. When folks were opening up their doors to allow police to search their homes, how many invoked that wonderful little right called the 4th Amendment and said, no. No, you cannot just come into my home police, without a warrant and search it. Not now, not ever, because my constitutional rights say so.

If you actually read the new law in North Carolina, it has two parts. One part regulates the use of public restroom facilities and limits their use to a single sex based upon a person’s biological sex. The second part, entitled the Wage and Hour Act prevents any local government (read: city or town) from passing any law, ordinance or regulation that regulates the minimum wage in the state. That means that any person in North Carolina, not just transgender folks are subject to North Carolina’s whim on whether or not to raise the minimum wage. The minimum wage in North Carolina is presently $7.25 per hour. Unlike other places in the country where cities have chosen to raise the minimum wage because they recognize that living in a city may be more expensive, cities are now prohibited from any such actions.

The law addresses the minimum wage, and does not allow any local government to set a minimum wage.“The legislature took that power expressly away, so forbade any local government from raising the minimum wage beyond what federal and state law require,” Charlotte Law School Professor Brian Clarke said.

To give you an idea of why folks, all folks not just the transgender and LBGQ folks should be jumping up and down in protest, many places in the country have enacted $15 minimum wages. Realize this means that minimum wage workers in North Carolina are getting paid just about 1/2 of what other people working minimum wage jobs can get paid. Here in little tiny Vermont our minimum wage is $9.60 per hour and while that’s not great, it’s still way better than North Carolina. Do you see something wrong with what North Carolina did with this law? You should.

The law also prevents any person (read: ANY PERSON) from pursuing a state action under the law for the public policies expressed in the act which also governs employment discrimination. Guess what folks? Under the law and its line “This Article does not create, and shall not be construed to create or support, a statutory or common law private right of action, and no person may bring any civil action based upon the public policy expressed herein” seems that all persons in the state are affected. Got that? Everyone.

Have a discrimination claim based upon religion, race, color  that does not fall into one of the state’s already established laws, guess what, you have no civil right to file suit in the state  court according to this law. According to  Charlotte School of Law professor, Brian Clark (who knows way more than little ‘ol lawyer me does) “In a very hidden way, it eliminated the ability for employees in North Carolina to file claims under state law for employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, color and age,” Clarke said, “And that’s a right that North Carolina employees have had since 1982… and it’s gone.” Poof. Gone. Folks should be rioting in the streets.

So, people, especially those who are peppering Facebook with their very prejudiced views of the rights of the transgender community under the North Carolina law and those that are speaking out against it, perhaps you should realize that when a particular group’s rights are affected, maybe, just maybe your rights are too. Under this law, rights were affected, not just for a particular segment of the North Carolina population but for all of the North Carolina population.

See, it’s really not an us v. them mentality. People are people and under the laws of this country we are all entitled to our rights, whether or not each of us personally stands for or against the person behind the right.  My kids understand this and have for some time. It’s about time that the adult population in this country realizes it too. One day, it could be your right that at stake. Remember that. Always.

 

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Eagle Scout Badge, Type 9

Eagle Scout Badge, Type 9 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled by a vote of 5-4 that the Boy Scouts of America could legally exclude gay members and leaders. Last year, when the organization reaffirmed its court-approved legal right to restrict its membership to preclude gay members, there was a great deal of publicity — none of which was very good. There hundreds of mentions of Eagle Scouts who were surrendering their hard-earned and coveted award— the highest in the scouting organization. The fact that its own membership appeared to be revolting on it made the news, but there was no word that the organization was making any great strides to reconsider or even change its stance.

Today, the organization announced that it would reconsider its stance on gay participation at is upcoming meeting to possibly permit a position where local councils, troops and packs could make their own decisions about the admission of gay leaders and members. Why the sudden change? I would love to believe that the fact that so many of the men that worked so hard through their teenage years to earn the coveted award of Eagle Scout and returned their awards with letters that clearly stated their belief that the Boy Scouts’ position was unacceptable to them were the catalyst for that change of position. Sadly, however, in every news account reporting the story is mention of the fact that corporations are pulling their financial support of the organization because of its non-gay stance. United Parcel Service, Intel and Merck were repeatedly mentioned as pulling their financial support. I am sure that there are others who are not mentioned but have taken the same position. Once again, it has become apparent that it is not the actions of the people, but rather the actions of the corporations that control. This is truly sad. If the corporations did not pull their donations and there was no financial detriment for their continuation of the policy, would the opinion of the public and the actions of former scouts have had any effect on their decision? I think not.

My three sons are all involved in scouts. They have learned a lot while participating and made some wonderful friends. When we lived in New Jersey I was involved in the leadership and our pack and later, our troop, was chartered by a local church. At one point, the minister of that church admitted that he was openly homosexual. Did that make any difference in the generosity of the organization who let us use their facility, their resources and whose congregation warmly supported our boys’ activities? No. If we had mentioned this information would the charter potentially have been pulled and our troop literally thrown out on the street? I don’t know. I would like to think not, but then again…. we had no financial pull so I don’t know if scouts would have changed things just for us — even though it was all about the boys.

No matter which side of the fence you land in the discussion of the admission or banning of gays from the organization, you have to admit that it is pretty sad that financial pursestrings can change and sway that position just because those pursestrings think it should be changed. Folks, it should be about the kids, about the people — the thousands and thousands of people who selflessly give of themselves to propel the organization forward and support the boys involved– not the corporate sponsorship. Yet another sad example that the country is a country of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation.

 

 

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