Democrat Assemblymen Tim Eustace and Reed Gusciora are two legislators we hope to be fashioning religious freedom legislation with next month, so we don't want them to take this salutary warning the wrong way. It is meant as a benefit to you and to the other legislators who voted for A-3613 last week.
Last week, legislation sponsored by Eustace and Gusciora was rushed to the Assembly floor for a vote, bypassing the normal committee process. That meant that legislators voted on A-3613 without the benefit of public comment. This is correct. Public comment was not permitted. Citizen participation was denied.
On the issue of process alone, we would have expected more legislators to sit this vote out.
A-3613 "prohibits state-sponsored travel to states adopting religious freedom statutes without protection against discrimination." The bill is a direct reaction (hence the speed) to HB-2, a piece of legislation passed by the elected Legislature in North Carolina and signed into law by the Governor there. HB-2 mandates that people use toilets and changing facilities based on the biological sex (determined by science, i.e. their genetic chromosomes) stated on their birth certificates. Opponents of HB-2 claim that this discriminates against biological men, with penises, but who "identify" as women, because it prevents them from using facilities designated as women-only.
Just as A-3613 was a reaction to HB-2, HB-2 was a reaction to a local ordinance in Charlotte, North Carolina, that allowed biological men, with penises, but who "identify" as women, to use facilities designated as women-only.
Now meet the man who led the campaign in Charlotte to pass that ordinance, Chad Sevearance-Turner. The ordinance HB-2 was meant to address. The ordinance you supported when you rushed A-3613 to the floor and voted for it without citizen participation or public comment.
Chad was convicted of sexually molesting an under-aged boy. He ran Charlotte's LGBT Chamber of Commerce and was the LGBT community's 2015 "person of the year." (http://goqnotes.com/40281/person-of-the-year-2015-chad-sevearance-turner/)
Now you've all been through campaigns before. Use your imagination. You see where this is going. We are not looking to be uncharitable, but imagine how much it is going to cost you -- even in a "safe" seat (and in the age of Bernie and of Trump, what is safe?) -- to step on a single mailing, backed up with a robo-call, backed up with a moderate-to-heavy social media/Internet buy? Is this the discussion that you want your campaign to be having in May or October 2017? Your photo, next to Chad's?
Chad doesn't believe that his conviction should matter. He told the Charlotte Observer (March 9, 2016) that "his conviction had not stopped him from achieving success, such as being chamber president." We wonder what affect it has had on the boy he molested? You should wonder that too. Maybe research it. Because, we suspect, you're going to own it.
Here's a nice photo of Chad that you might want to use in the direct mailing or two or three that you need to explain your vote:
Of course, someone may ask why a convicted sex-offender is on a parade float with children? As one North Carolinian woman said: "No one who is a convicted sex offender should be leading a campaign to allow men to be in women’s bathrooms and showers. It’s just common sense.”
We agree. You... apparently not.