When it comes to the HB2 controversy, we can all agree on at least one thing: that individuals must have the right to run their businesses based on their sincerely held beliefs, regardless of what those beliefs are.
This week I had dinner with a friend and her family and, not surprisingly, HB2 came up in conversation. It is first worth noting that, as we spoke, I mentioned that according to HB2, individuals who have undergone gender reassignment surgery may use the restroom that correlates with the gender on their birth certificate. I consider every person at that table to be well-informed – but not one of them had ever heard this. My friend remarked that not only had she never heard this from the media, but that it changed the entire conversation about the so-called “anti-LGBT” House Bill 2.
She’s absolutely right. The media have framed their stories about HB2 using talking points from liberal activists. There is a flagrant disregard for the truth – for what is actually written in the bill. And North Carolinians are sick of it.
Anyway, my friend, like many, is frustrated with politics in general, does not identify with a party, and even kind of likes Bernie Sanders, if only because he calls Hillary Clinton on her double standards. We don’t always agree on politics, but as the conversation progressed, it was clear we agreed on this: the government has no right to tell business owners how to run their businesses.
After seven Charlotte City Council members passed an ordinance that conflicted with the sentiment of 70 percent of North Carolinians, the General Assembly passed HB2, which not only addressed the unlawful Charlotte ordinance, but also solidified protections for business owners to operate their places of business without government butting in.
While it is important to champion the protections that HB2 provides women and children in restrooms and locker rooms, it is also important to champion the win for business owners. HB2 is a win for business owners of all faiths who deserve the freedom to run their establishments in compliance with their own sincerely held beliefs, not government mandates.
It is exactly this freedom that Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr and PayPal are enjoying when they choose to not provide services to North Carolinians. More power to them. No true conservative will begrudge them that right. But let’s be consistent. They should recognize the same rights when they are exercised by ordinary people who aren’t rock stars or big corporations.
Once we sift through the media narrative and get to the facts, I think we can all agree on this: no rock star, business owner, wedding photographer, baker, member of the clergy, or anyone else should be forced to provide services when it violates their personal beliefs.