Tag Archives: carolina

Rep. Joe Wilson Shouted Down by "You Lie" Chants During Angry Town Hall

Mother Jones

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More than eight years after Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) memorably shouted “you lie” at then-President Barack Obama during a televised broadcast of his speech before a joint session of Congress, constituents in his home state are turning Wilson’s infamous outburst against him.

During a Monday town hall event in Graniteville, attendees shouted down the South Carolina congressman with loud jeers and “you lie” chants over his support for the Trump administration and efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. According to the Post and Courier, the most raucous exchange occurred when Wilson, who in 2013 voted against extending the Violence Against Women Act, told the crowd he had advocated to protect women against violence.

The event comes on the heels of similar events nationwide, where Republican elected officials have been met by angry protests in their home districts over concerns about various White House policies.

In 2009, Wilson was the subject of bipartisan condemnation after he interrupted Obama’s address to Congress by calling him a liar when the president said his proposed health care plan wouldn’t cover undocumented immigrants. The congressman was forced to apologize for violating congressional decorum with the heckling, but he benefited in the end: Shortly after the incident, an aide confirmed Wilson had raised more than $1 million in campaign contributions thanks to the outburst.

Democrats have frequently pointed to Wilson’s “you lie” remark as a defining example of the disrespect Republicans showed Obama during his two terms in office.

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Rep. Joe Wilson Shouted Down by "You Lie" Chants During Angry Town Hall

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I’m a Trans Woman of Color, and I’ve Never Been More Scared to Live in North Carolina

Mother Jones

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Lara Americo has lived in North Carolina most of her life. The 32-year-old activist, artist, and musician was in Charlotte last year when state lawmakers passed one of the country’s most sweeping anti-LGBT laws, House Bill 2, which banned her from the women’s bathroom because she’s transgender. She was still there late last month, when they replaced that law with another one to appease critics who called it discriminatory. The new law was framed by the governor as a repeal, or a compromise, since it does not explicitly require trans women like Americo to use the men’s room. But LGBT activists have called it HB2.0 because it prevents cities like Charlotte from passing nondiscrimination ordinances that would guarantee her access to the women’s room. This week, Americo reached out to say that while the NCAA and others seem to believe the situation has improved for transgender people, she’s never been more scared to live in the Tar Heel State.

I used to tell everyone I wasn’t going to make it past 30 because I was convinced that I wasn’t. I was suicidal and pretty much a hermit—everything was wrong but I didn’t know why. Then I realized it was because I wasn’t living as a woman, so at 29 I decided to transition. I started to go out and meet people, and I learned that North Carolina isn’t really friendly toward transgender people. People just get quiet around you, they whisper. And my family was in shock. They tried to be supportive, but I don’t think they could cope with missing the son they had loved and raised—we haven’t really talked much since.

I was still sort of in the closet until last year, when Charlotte’s City Council started talking about a nondiscrimination ordinance that would allow trans people to use their preferred bathrooms. I testified in support of it—that was when I began to be public about being trans. When it passed, it felt like we were finally going in the right direction. But then North Carolina lawmakers started considering HB2 which blocked Charlotte’s ordinance. I testified at the Senate, begging them not to, but they did. I kept using the women’s bathroom anyway—it was a protest against the law every time. Also, if I were to go into the men’s bathroom, there was the potential of outing myself as a transgender woman. While I don’t really keep it a secret anymore, I don’t make it so obvious in public because it can be dangerous for me, especially in the climate we’re in now.

After HB2 passed, it got scarier. Anytime I have to drive in North Carolina, there are 50-mile stretches without a city, just back roads and small towns, and I can’t stop the car because if I do, I’ll have to worry about someone noticing me. Transgender people, especially people of color, face high rates of violence, so I’ve had to be mindful of my presentation, making sure my clothes are right and my mannerisms are perfect and my voice doesn’t drop too low. And I have to worry about the police pulling me over, discriminating against me. Because while there was always a risk, now they’re emboldened.

A majority of people who don’t really follow the issues that closely, they think there’s been a repeal. But I don’t think it was a repeal—I think transgender people are in even more danger now. When you don’t allow cities to give people protections, you put people in danger. Our state government made it clear that they put profit and sports ahead of our safety, and that mentality trickles down. We still don’t have the protections we need—all we have is a spotlight on us, so that people who don’t like us can target us. I feel less safe now than I did a few weeks ago, and so do a lot of people. I work with the Trans Lifeline, a suicide hotline, and after the new replacement law passed, there was a spike in callers.

I don’t like to show that these laws have affected me, but they do: I don’t want to stop at a gas station when I’m running out of gas. I don’t want to join the YMCA or the swim team because I worry about someone seeing my body. My partner worries—when I leave the house, I can usually count on her texting me within an hour, and if I don’t respond she gets really upset. I’ve had instances where I’m in a bar and I try to use the bathroom, and someone will look at me funny, and I’ll have to leave the bar to avoid a confrontation. Recently they proposed a bill that would increase trespassing punishments for people in the bathroom, and that bill could be used to target transgender people. I try to be optimistic, but our state has a Republican super-majority with extreme beliefs, so I do worry it’s going to pass and that transgender people will be criminalized.

Every few weeks I hear about a person who is making plans to leave the state, and I’ve considered it myself, but I have to wrestle with the thought of being forced out of my home, because I love North Carolina and I don’t want to leave. It’s a beautiful state. And I would hate it if I gave in to fear tactics and discrimination. There are many people here who don’t care that I’m transgender and they don’t care who uses the bathroom with them. It’s those people who make me want to stay here and be a part of this and fight for the transgender kids who live here and are going to public schools and worry about all these things, and make sure they don’t have to deal with this when they’re 30.

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I’m a Trans Woman of Color, and I’ve Never Been More Scared to Live in North Carolina

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North Carolina Republicans Try to Block Transgender People From Bathrooms—Again

Mother Jones

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have filed a bill that could make it more difficult for transgender people to use the bathroom by imposing stiff penalties on anyone convicted of “trespassing” in a restroom.

House Bill 562, co-sponsored by state Rep. Brenden Jones, was filed on Tuesday, shortly after the NCAA announced that it was lifting its boycott of North Carolina because the state’s Legislature partially repealed a law that had required people to use bathrooms consistent with the sex they were assigned at birth.

The text of the new bill does not mention transgender people or even refer to a person’s sex. Instead, it states that entering or remaining in a bathroom “without authorization” after being asked to leave by the owner of the facility, a manager, or anyone else in the room will be considered trespassing. “My bill will do two things,” Jones wrote in a Facebook post last Thursday. “First, it will specifically state it is a second degree trespass for entering the restroom or changing room of the opposite sex; secondly, it would enhance the punishment from what is now, a class 3 misdemeanor punishable up to only 10 days, to a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable up to 120 days in jail.” Jones did not respond to a request for comment.

Requiring “authorization” to be in a bathroom could be particularly harmful for transgender people, says Cathryn Oakley of Human Rights Campaign, a gay and transgender rights advocacy group. By Oakley’s reading of the bill, a trans male college student could be prosecuted for trespass if he uses the men’s room on his campus after being asked to leave by another student in the room.

Last week, the state Legislature replaced House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill, with a new law that LGBT groups have described as “HB2.0” because it opens the door for these types of restrictive regulations. The replacement law prevents cities, schools, and localities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances for trans people in bathrooms, preventing any local guarantees that trans people can use facilities consistent with their gender identity. “There’s no backstop to prevent further anti-LGBTQ legislation from being introduced, debated, and potentially passed,” Oakley says. “The North Carolina General Assembly is not going to stop going after transgender people.”

The latest bill, says Democratic Rep. Deb Butler, appears to be a direct response to the recent replacement of the original bathroom bill. “A faction of the Republican Party here in North Carolina is angry that HB2 was repealed,” she says. “They wanted it, they liked it just the way it was. This is, I am sure, their attempt to thumb their nose at the compromise.” Butler says the new bill will likely be introduced to the Legislature on Wednesday and assigned to a committee. “The lunacy persists.” A companion bill has been filed in the state Senate.

Jones voted in favor of the HB2 replacement last week. Jones wrote on Facebook after the vote that “our children will not be forced to share bathrooms with those of the opposite sex…I will never waiver on this vital issue of privacy.” Police officers and other experts note that there is no evidence that sexual predators are taking advantage of legal protections for transgender people in public restrooms.

Update, 10:30 p.m.: Gov. Roy Cooper has come out against the trespassing bill. “The Governor is not supportive of efforts such as these as he believes we ought to be working to expand statewide protections for LGBT North Carolinians,” Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper, said in a statement.

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North Carolina Republicans Try to Block Transgender People From Bathrooms—Again

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Thanks to Trump, the Supreme Court Just Left Trans Kids Hanging in a Big Way

Mother Jones

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The Supreme Court on Monday kicked a historic transgender rights case back to a lower court, after the Trump administration changed the federal government’s position on whether trans students can use bathrooms matching their gender identities.

The highly anticipated case, which had been scheduled for a Supreme Court hearing later this month, centers on a 17-year-old transgender boy named Gavin Grimm who is suing for access to the boys’ bathroom at his school in Virginia. Grimm’s case argues that the school’s decision to block him from that bathroom violates Title IX, a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in public schools. Had the Supreme Court chosen to hear the case, it would have been the first time the justices had ever considered a question about trans rights.

Grimm, who was born a girl but identifies as a boy, started using the boys’ bathroom at school his sophomore year, after doctors diagnosed him with gender dysphoria and recommended that he be treated as a boy. But when parents at his school complained, his school board intervened, saying he’d either need to go back to the girls’ room or use a private bathroom near the nurse’s office. The school board said it was trying to protect the privacy of other students.

Last May, the Obama administration put out a directive warning that public schools could lose federal funding if they blocked trans kids from using the bathrooms of their choice. The directive said Title IX prohibited discrimination based on gender identity, not just based on sex. But in February, President Donald Trump’s administration changed the federal government’s position, saying that it wasn’t sure how to interpret Title IX and that schools could go back to blocking trans kids from bathrooms. Because the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals had relied heavily on the Obama administration’s interpretation in its decision about Grimm’s case last year, the Supreme Court on Monday ordered the circuit court to reconsider the case. Now it’ll be up to that lower court to decide what Title IX means, and whether the law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.

Over the past couple of years, the debate over transgender rights and bathrooms has heated up nationally. Only one state, North Carolina, has enacted legislation requiring trans people to use bathrooms matching their birth sex instead of their gender identity. But at least 11 other states have considered similar legislation already this year , and schools across the country have instituted similar policies. In an amicus brief filed last week, parents wrote about how their trans children have been humiliated and stigmatized as a result. Many others also submitted briefs in support of Grimm, including nearly 200 members of Congress, dozens of major corporations, 18 states and over 30 US cities, the NAACP, and the National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA).

The issue isn’t just about bathrooms. “It’s about the right of trans people to exist in public spaces,” Grimm told reporters on a press call on Monday. Without access to bathrooms, he says, it’s hard for trans people to sit through class, run errands, or hold jobs.

The case will not come before the Supreme Court again this term, Grimm’s attorneys say, and possibly not for another few years. “We will not have our day in the high court this term but we will continue to fight in the lower courts,” Chase Strangio, one of his lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote. “Today our momentum was sent on a detour,” he added in a tweet, “but nothing can stop it. We will fight. We will win.”

Grimm was sitting in class on Monday morning when text messages started flooding his phone with the Supreme Court’s announcement. He was disappointed but vowed to keep fighting. Whether it takes another year or 10, he says, “I’m in it for the long haul.”

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Thanks to Trump, the Supreme Court Just Left Trans Kids Hanging in a Big Way

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The Post-Trump Wave of Anti-Abortion Proposals Just Hit Florida

Mother Jones

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Over the last few weeks, the election of Donald Trump and new Republican control over several states have inspired a wave of anti-abortion proposals. Among the most pervasive have been 20-week abortion bans: Ohio and Kentucky have both passed these in the last month, and they have been proposed in Virginia and now Florida.

On Tuesday, Florida state Rep. Joe Gruters—the former co-chair of Trump’s Florida campaign who began his first term in the Florida House this month—filed the proposed ban, along with sponsor Rep. Don Hahnfeldt.

“Proud to stand up for life in the first bill that I file as a member of the State House,” Gruters wrote on his Facebook page.

Titled the “Florida Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” the bill would make it a third-degree felony to perform an abortion after 20 weeks, unless there is a “serious health risk” for the mother. The bill would also require doctors to file a report about every abortion they perform to the state’s health department and would allow the fathers of the unborn, as well as mothers, to sue their abortion providers for actual or punitive damages.

The bill’s text argues that the ban is necessary because at 20 weeks, fetuses can feel pain. This point is contested by pro-choice advocates and refuted by the vast majority of scientific research.

The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision legalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade ruled that a state can only ban abortions after a fetus is viable outside the womb, which is typically considered to be at 24 weeks. The 20-week bans have been one of the anti-abortion movement’s primary strategies for challenging Roe, by calling into question its viability standard. Only about 1.3 percent of abortions take place after 20 weeks, and they usually occur because of an unforeseen medical complication—a risk to the mother’s health, for instance, or the discovery of a severe fetal anomaly in the later stages of pregnancy. They might be necessary for women experiencing major difficulties in their lives, such as domestic violence or the inability to access abortion for financial and other reasons. “Such bans will disproportionately affect young women and women with limited financial resources,” wrote the authors of a 2013 study on women who get later abortions.

“The 20-week ban was nationally designed to be the vehicle to end abortion in America,” Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis told the Columbus Dispatch in December, following the state’s passage of its own 20-week ban.

Lawsuits challenging these bans have made it all the way to the US Supreme Court. In 2014, the Supreme Court declined to review a case challenging Arizona’s 20-week ban, cementing a lower court’s decision that the law was unconstitutional. Reproductive rights advocates have also mounted lawsuits opposing 20-week bans passed in several other states, including North Carolina and Georgia.

Perhaps in anticipation of similar lawsuits to come, Florida’s proposed 20-week ban would also establish a legal defense fund, financed with taxpayer dollars and private donations, which would be managed by Florida’s legal affairs department and would pay for the state attorney general’s legal defense against challenges to the bill.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has not said publicly whether he would support a 20-week abortion ban. But he identifies as pro-life and in the past has supported other restrictions on later abortions. In 2014, Scott signed a bill into law redefining fetal viability to when a fetus can survive outside the womb “through standard medical measures,” further limiting when some later abortions would be permitted.

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The Post-Trump Wave of Anti-Abortion Proposals Just Hit Florida

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