North Carolina lawmakers will meet Wednesday for a special session to consider eliminating the state’s so-called “bathroom bill,” clearing the way for legislators to potentially drop a highly criticized measure that prompted lawsuits and cost the state jobs and tourism dollars.

 This announcement came not long after the city of Charlotte abandoned a nondiscrimination ordinance Monday that helped spark the controversial statewide law, which put North Carolina at the center of a heated national debate over transgender rights.

North Carolina’s governor-elect, Roy Cooper (D), said Monday that because of Charlotte’s actions, state lawmakers would call a special session to vote on repealing the measure known as House Bill 2 (or “H.B. 2″).

The bill is best-known for its provisions restricting which restrooms transgender people can use, but it also reversed local ordinances expanding protections for LGBT people and limited some minimum-wage standards. When the Justice Department and North Carolina filed dueling lawsuits over the bill earlier this year, U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said the fight was “about a great deal more than just bathrooms.”

In a video message Monday evening, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said he would call the special session for Wednesday. McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor who conceded to Cooper this month, again criticized his opponents, who he said had fueled the entire debate.

“The sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election has ended sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics at the expense of Charlotte and the entire state of North Carolina,” he said.

McCrory and other elected officials in North Carolina who had backed the bill said it was needed to combat “government overreach” in Charlotte and protect women, comments they continued pressing on Monday. Opponents said H.B. 2 amounted to state-sanctioned discrimination, and it was criticized by a host of business groups as well as civil rights organizations.

[‘Not about bathrooms’: Critics decry North Carolina law’s lesser-known elements]

Cooper had said in a statement Monday morning that the Republican legislative leadership had “assured me that as a result of Charlotte’s vote, a special session will be called” to repeal H.B. 2. He praised the move to get rid of the law, which he said would “bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state.”

The head of the Human Rights Campaign said Cooper told them he had worked out a deal with state lawmakers to scrap the bathroom bill. A spokesman for Cooper did not respond to messages seeking comment Monday.

The top Republicans in the North Carolina legislature — Sen. Phil Berger, the president pro tempore of the state Senate, and Rep. Tim Moore, speaker of the House — sharply denounced Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Cooper on Monday. They had particularly harsh words for Cooper, calling him “dishonest and disingenuous” in attempting “to take credit” for a possible vote on repealing the measure.

“Today Roy Cooper and Jennifer Roberts proved what we said was the case all along: their efforts to force men into women’s bathrooms and shower facilities was a political stunt to drive out-of-state money into the governor’s race,” Berger and Moore said in a joint statement.

“For months, we’ve said if Charlotte would repeal its bathroom ordinance that created the problem, we would take up the repeal” of H.B. 2, they continued. “Roy Cooper is not telling the truth about the legislature committing to call itself into session — we’ve always said that was Gov. McCrory’s decision, and if he calls us back, we will be prepared to act.”

Rep. Larry Hall, the House Democratic leader, said he believes political opposition to the bathroom bill has reached critical mass and could spur a vote to repeal it.

Hall pointed out that Democrats managed to knock off four state House Republicans, although North Carolina Republicans also defeated Democrats elsewhere and won other seats, which meant Republicans kept their supermajorities in the legislature.

“A lot of the damage has been done,” Hall said, referencing companies that opted to scrap plans to expand in the state. “We’ll never get those jobs back and those opportunities back. At least it stops the bleeding if we do this now, so that we can be competitive again.”

State lawmakers hastily passed H.B. 2 in March, following quickly on the heels of Charlotte passing its own ordinance a month earlier. The measure prompted intense anger and opposition, and businesses including PayPal and Deutsche Bank abandoned plans to expand into the state with hundreds of jobs.

Musicians including Bruce Springsteen canceled concerts, while the NBA and NCAA relocated games scheduled to be played in the state. Investors spoke out against the law, which tourism groups said was costing the state significant amounts of money. One estimate, published by Forbes, said the state lost more than $600 million in business due to the bill.

It was not immediately clear what impact the movement would have on the ongoing legal fights over the bill, although presumably a repeal would end those lawsuits. The Justice Department declined to comment about whether it would abandon its lawsuit if the bill is repealed. The American Civil Liberties Union, another group challenging the measure in federal court, said it would only know what will happen to its lawsuit once the legislature repeals H.B. 2.

[North Carolina, Justice Dept. file dueling lawsuits over transgender rights]

In a statement Monday, the city of Charlotte said its council “recognizes the ongoing negative economic impact resulting from the passage of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance and the state’s House Bill 2.”

City officials left no doubt they were acting specifically to prompt state lawmakers to act on H.B. 2. The Charlotte City Council voted Monday morning to remove its nondiscrimination ordinancefrom the city code, and in its statement, Charlotte “urges the state to follow immediately with a repeal of House Bill 2

The council voted 10-0 to pass the resolution repealing the ordinance, with one member absent, a city spokeswoman said. However, the repeal resolution includes language stating that it will become invalid if H.B. 2 is not “repealed in its entirety by December 31, 2016.”

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who has previously said the city would not repeal the ordinance, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

[Federal judge says UNC can’t enforce North Carolina’s transgender bathroom restrictions]

“Governor-elect Cooper has briefed us on a deal he brokered with state lawmakers to reach a complete and total repeal” of H.B. 2, Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. H.B. 2 “is precisely why North Carolinians went to the polls and ousted Governor McCrory last month. It’s time to chart a new course guided by the state’s values of dignity and respect, not discrimination and hate — and to ensure nondiscrimination protections exist in cities, towns and across the state of North Carolina.”

While the ACLU of North Carolina is “encouraged” that H.B. 2 could be repealed, “it never should have come at the cost of protections for LGBT people living in Charlotte,” said Sarah Gillooly, policy director for the group. Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, echoed that, calling it disappointing “that Charlotte’s commonsense ordinance was repealed to get the General Assembly to even consider a full repeal” of H.B. 2.

“Completely repealing [H.B. 2] is only the first step lawmakers must take to repair the harm they have done to their own constituents,” Keisling said in a statement. “Even after it is repealed, there will be a long way to go.”

As attorney general, Cooper was a vocal opponent of H.B. 2 and refused to defend it. The possible movement on H.B. 2 comes as Cooper and Republican lawmakers are facing off in a bitter, high-profile post-election fight over how much power he will actually get to exert when he takes the governor’s mansion.

Republicans in the state have introduced and quickly passed bills that would limit his power, including curtailing his influence in the courts and requiring state Senate approval for Cabinet picks. Cooper has blasted these moves as “unprecedented” and “ominous,” while his opponents have argued they are putting in place needed reforms meant to let them enact checks and balances. The governor-elect has threatened legal action, vowing: “They will see me in court.”

 

 

by Danielle Bergan

I’m sitting at my computer, just home from work at the restaurant, gathering my thoughts as this month of November 2016 comes to an end. Though I am tired right now, this month needs to be written about, needs to be documented. In the words of the Grateful Dead, “What a long, strange trip its been.

Ever since the election of our 45th President, Donald Trump, I have been existing in a vortex of shock, anger, compassion, realization, and fear. It reminds me of a turbulent storm that stays with you, either on top of you in fury and rage or allowing you to remain in the calm eye, just long enough to catch your breath.

The one shred of normalcy that I have been clinging to is my sobriety and my gratitude. I made 15 years clean and sober on the 12th, no small feat for this drunk and drug addict like me. My tribe in recovery has allowed me sanity in a sea of insanity; given me strength and courage to stand up to the fear and oppression which encompasses my LGBTQ community across our nation. It has provided a base of normalcy in a world gone mad with white power, hatred of immigrants (especially Muslims), people of color and of course, women. Without it I’d be finished, done, gone never to return. But, I am not!!!

I am grateful for the thousands of strong, men , women and children who are transgender, gay , lesbian or gender non-conformant. We have gained so much in the past 10 years and will fight to keep the rights we have. In the face of virtually every appointment by President-elect Trump is a person with an anti-LBGTQ agenda. They would just see us dead and gone rather than deal with us. But Honey, I can assure you, we will not go quietly into the night!

We are preparing, day by day, to stand up in the face of any oppression this new Administration might throw at us. We will also stand with all the women of the country who face the possible reversal of Roe vs Wade. We hold firm with people of color because Black lives do matter, women’s lives matter, LGBTQ lives matter and immigrants’ lives matter! We will support our Muslim brothers and sisters at every turn, because they are citizens of the U.S. like us, with the same inalienable rights any citizen has. They may try to force them on to a list but liberal bastions of freedom from New York to L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, and Chicago will be safe havens for all our groups.

Yes God, I am grateful. Grateful to be a nicotine free, clean and sober transgender woman, in her 60s, ready to stand and fight for all I believe that is right and kind and good with this great Nation and this world.

So be on notice President-elect Trump, Vice President-elect Pense, Treasury Sec Steve Munchkin, Transportation Sec Elaine Chao, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Education Secretary Betsy DeVOs, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Secretary of Housing and Human Development, Ben Carson, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, National Security adviser Michael Flynn, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Chief Strategist Steve, Alt right, Bannon and whoever else is named. Together our minorities are a large part of this country and we are already lined up for a fight.

Just wait to all those working folks who voted for Trump to realize they have been had. There will not be full employment for you, there will not be health insurance for you and there will not be lower taxes either. The orange faced guy has gas lighted you.

So, going into this December, I am likely more alive spiritually, and soulfully than I have ever been in my 63 years on the planet. While the horizon to many in this great Nation seems dark and obscure, in a way, perhaps Donald Trump has made America great again. I believe he has awakened the spirit of freedom of oppression that our founding fathers fought for some 250 years ago. Different time but the same scenario. Bring it on Donald! We are ready!

This semester, Binghamton University introduced the LGBTQ Center on campus, providing an educational and social resource for those within the community, as well as their allies. According to Kelly Clark, the LGBTQ Center director, “the purpose is to support LGBTQ students, faculty and staff in their success on campus.”

Besides providing a safe space and relevant programming, the Center is also a resource for those dealing with domestic violence.

It has been found that domestic violence occurs in the same rates in same-sex relationships as it does in straight relationships.

Domestic violence in same-sex relationships seems to stem from the relationship models that are common in U.S. culture.

“I think that part of the reason we see same-sex domestic violence is because the relationships that we know and are aware of tend to be male-female with a dominating male,” Clark said. “Other relationships may tend to mimic that kind of relationship because that is what we know.”

However, the ways that individuals dictate the power and control in their LGBTQ relationship are different than those in a straight relationship. A unique threat present in same-sex relationships is that of being outed by an abusive partner.

“Imagine a young person gets to college and develops a relationship with someone they meet and all of a sudden, in an abusive cycle, the person says, ‘If you don’t do what I say, I’m going to call home and tell your mom that you’re gay and I’m your boyfriend,’” Clark said. “If you have not come out to your family, this would be scary and make you feel forced to stay in the relationship.”

For individuals who are transgender, one partner may withhold hormones from the other, disrupting their routine in order to maintain control. Alternately, if someone identifies as a transgender woman, their partner may withhold their razor to keep them from shaving their facial hair.

“Because of this othering in society, when people are made to feel less than, broken, psychotic — ‘There is something wrong with you,’ ‘We need to pray away the gay’ [or] ‘We need to send you to counseling,’ abusers play into that as well,” Clark said. “They feed into insecurities.”

Although the ways in which a partner is abusive in LGBTQ relationships are different from those in heterosexual relationships, the abuse revolves around the same central theme.

“[It] is still definitely based on power and control,” Clark said. “I always try to tell people love is an action verb, not a feeling. It is a behavior.”

The LGBTQ Center is a safe space for students to disclose information. Clark says the Center is a place of support for any student who wants to come in and discuss what is going on and what support is available for them.

“It is so hard to get up the courage to come in, but the research is pretty clear,” Clark said. “Violence on its own doesn’t get better. It typically gets worse. We know that there is a cycle of abuse, then a make-up period, then abuse again. What we see is that over time it becomes more intense. We are here to support you to help you overcome this.”

The LGBTQ Center on campus is located LS-G549, in the ground floor of Bartle Library. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. For immediate help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

November 13, 2016

Dear Mr. Pence,

Congratulations on your victory. First of all, I believe that you and Trump/Pence supporters think that we are upset because the Democrats lost. True, we are upset that we lost the election, but we are marching in the streets because we are scared of you. We are terrified of people like you and of a government that aligns itself with hate and ignorance.

People like you and Donald Trump have a history of making America think that we will lose our civil rights. This is not about losing our civil rights. It is about losing the lives we have.

I am writing this to tell you that we are not going backwards. We are not starting from scratch.

There was a time in our country when we were rounded up, locked up, falsely arrested for sex crimes, and had to live our lives in shame. Just so you know, we are not doing that again. Those days are long gone.

There was a time in our country when many of us were psychologically tortured by our “Christian” relatives and were told that we were going to burn in hell. We were told that we are sinners and that there was no spiritual place for us in this world. We are not going backwards. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when there were no depictions of LGBT life on television or film. There was a time when we had no cultural role model because simply loving someone of the same sex was considered too provocative. We will not go back to being invisible. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we were sent to therapy and mental health professionals because the shame that society put on us drove us to self-destructive behaviors. Some of us turned to drugs and alcohol to damage ourselves because people like you told us that we were already damaged. Some of us tried to take our own lives. People like you made us feel like there was something wrong with us. We will no longer harm ourselves to further empower you. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we saw our friends and loved ones die in our arms because the government was slow to acknowledge a disease that impacted the entire world. Brilliant and beautiful people died in the prime of their lives thanks to denial and prejudice during the AIDS crisis. Some of thought that we were going to automatically die because we were different. Those days are long gone. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when as young men and women, we found ourselves on the streets of this country because our families had thrown us out. Some of us found ourselves without a family at all because they had disowned us. We are not going back to that. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we had to sit with our families and keep quiet about who we were. This was when people did not fully understand what it was like to be around those who were openly gay. They did not understand that we were equal and not sick. We are not going to educate our families on bigotry and acceptance all over again. We are not going to have an open mind and let them process their feelings about what it means to be bigoted all over again. We already did that. We are not doing it again.

There was a time when we spent our lives with our partner but could not be married. If our partners died, the family would come out of the woodwork and take the money and estate, as they were the next of kin. We were left broke and broken and alone. This will not happen again. We are not going back to a time when we could not be married. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when people felt empowered by their bigotry and hatred of us. They felt this so much that they tied us to fences and crucified us in the middle of the night in open fields and darkened streets and in broad daylight. They bloodied us with violent fists and killed us. We are not going back to a time when people felt protected enough to kill us. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we had to live in secret because we could lose our jobs and be refused service at businesses for being different. The law did not protect us from being discriminated against. We had to live in secrecy to feed ourselves and our families. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we married members of the opposite sex just so we could fit in and seem normal. We ended up ruining the lives of others by emotionally hurting our spouses and complicating the lives of our children. We are not going back to trying that normalization. We are not doing that again.

Lastly though, I will tell you what we will do. There was a time when those who had been abused, beaten, and weathered rose up. And we marched and protested and fought against the hate that was all around us. That, vice-president elect, we aredoing again. We will do it again and again. We are not starting over. We are moving forward. The world has changed, and we are not going backwards.

We stood up and risked our lives and jobs and safety to earn our seat at the table. And with the help of kind leaders and brave politicians, we got that seat. You are not taking that away. We are already at the table. We are here. We are not coming to dinner. We are already at dinner. Sincerely,

Martin Hyatt,

Author/Professor, NYC

As I pulled the curtain behind me this morning and began to look at my ballot, I took a moment, let my breath out and sat there with a smile on my face. You see, shortly before exiting my car I was listening to NPR on the way to the polls.  They had been putting random comments on the air from various voters.

One woman’s comments hit me quite to the core. She said something like this, “I am so overwhelmed to be voting for who I believe will be the next president of our country, Hillary Clinton, a woman. I thought of my grandmother, who passed in 1997 and in her lifetime women were granted the right to vote in 1920. She would be so happy to know her daughter and her granddaughter voted today. I am blown away on how far we have come.”

At this moment my thoughts drifted to Susan B. Anthony, the leader behind the 19th Century Suffrage movement. With Elizabeth Cady Stanton by her side. Susan became the essence of 19th Century Activist. As I took a moment to day dream of her accomplishments, they are almost beyond belief.

Here are a few:

  • As a Suffragist, she and Elizabeth Cady Stanton began the work of woman’s suffrage in 1852. Bitterly disappointed that the Republicans left them by the wayside in passing the 15th amendment, in 1866 they founded the American Equal Rights Association. In 1872, Anthony and 3 other women were arrested in Rochester NY for voting in an election. Found guilty, they refused to pay the fines thereby losing any right to appeal. In years to come, Anthony appeared before ever congress from 1869 to 1906 advocating for a woman’s right to vote. In 1877 when she raised 10,000 signatures in 26 states petitioning this right, Congress laughed at her. This never slowed her though from her life’s work.
  • As an Abolitionist, Antony worked with the American Anti-Slavery Society. Despite public threats and violence, she helped push the movement through arranging meetings and distributing informational leaflets. In 1863, Anthony and Stanton organized the Women’s National Loyal League to help push the 13th amendment to outlaw Slavery. While Afro- Americans gained their freedom and the right to vote in the 15th amendment, women were left behind from that precious right of citizenship.
  • As an Educational Reformer, Anthony pushed for better pay for female teachers and equal educational opportunities regardless of race or gender. In the late 1890s, Anthony raised $50,000 (including putting up the cash value of her own life insurance policy) to hold the University of Rochester to a promise that if she did so, women would be admitted to the university as students. They were in 1900.
  • As a Labor Activist, Susan started her own newspaper in 1868, The Revolution. Its masthead, “Men their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.” Here, she constantly advocated for basic rights such as an 8 hour work day, equal pay for equal work, promoting buying American products and the right for women to be able to vote. In the late 1890s, when she was president of the National American Women Suffrage Association, her organization worked to gain the support or organized labor.

Susan B. Anthony died in 1906, 14 years before the 19th amendment was passed guarantying our right as a woman in the United States of America to vote.

On Election Day in Rochester N.Y. hundreds flock to her grave and paste it with, “I voted,” stickers. Today, November 8, 2016, the line is long and the cemetery has promised to stay open late to accommodate the crowds. I am choked with emotion as a woman at this amazing tribute to the driving force which allowed us, as women, to finally get the right to vote.

By tonight we will have elected the first woman president of our country. Personally, I believe we are as divided as a nation since the Civil War. Bigotry, hatred, and violence have been reignited in this campaign as something that is acceptable by society. It is with my sincerest pray and hopes that Hillary Clinton can begin healing the great divide such as Lincoln did some 140 years ago.

In closing, I say a humble, thank you, Susan B. Anthony, for your courage. It is because of women like you that we as a nation look to continue as the bastion of freedom for all who love in this country.

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