What do you hate more?
The presidential election campaign?
Or the furor over HB2?
The good news is that one will be over in a few weeks. The bad news is that the other won’t.
On Nov. 8, the election campaigning ends. The heavy doses of drug-like campaign ads and cable-news coverage of the mean-spirited, misleading, and malicious barrages fired by and at the candidates will halt.
But HB2 will still be with us, tearing us asunder, holding our state up to ridicule.
Unnecessarily, because reasonable people could have worked out a common-sense solution that recognized, respectfully and practically, the needs and aspirations of transgender people, while protecting the public from danger and abuse.
But politics gets in the way.
The governor’s re-election campaign ads tout HB2 as necessary protection for children in public bathrooms who could be threatened by adults of the opposite sex.
Meanwhile, the Democratic challenger’s campaign energizes core supporters by calling for the immediate and unconditional repeal of HB2, exploiting its growing unpopularity in the sports and business communities.
Thus, a compromise solution would not serve the campaigns of either candidate.
Each side blames the other for the mess HB2 has created.
Conservative religious and “traditional values” groups are an important part of the Republican coalition in North Carolina. They pushed for HB2 and resist its repeal.
But there are other important religions in North Carolina: sports and business.
The actions by the National Basketball Association, National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Atlantic Coast Conference to move important sports contests out of North Carolina sparked a new fire of concern about HB2.
University of North Carolina President Margaret Spellings has been cautious and careful not to criticize HB2 directly. “We are surprised and disappointed by the NCAA’s decision and regret the impact it will have on North Carolina’s student-athletes, coaches, athletic staffs, fans and the North Carolina communities previously chosen to host these championship events,” she said. “We remain caught in the middle.”
On the other hand, a representative of a private college supported the ACC and NCAA. Davidson Athletic Director Jim Murphy wrote, “Davidson College has opposed the plainly discriminatory bill known as HB2 since the day it was hastily signed into law. The law harms many and protects no one.”
Meanwhile, other North Carolinians are counting the money that will not come to North Carolina because of HB2 and actions like those of the NCAA and ACC.
A business recruiter told me recently that his community had lost several large business prospects who told him they could no longer consider North Carolina because of HB2. He said, “We are just no longer on their list.”
After November’s election is over, maybe common sense can prevail, and HB2 can be buried respectfully. But getting North Carolina back on the lists of sports events and businesses looking for good locations will not happen quickly.
The ghost of HB2 will haunt us for a long time.
D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs on UNC-TV.