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Speaking Out Against North Carolina's H.B. 2

Speaking Out Against North Carolina's H.B. 2

On Wednesday, March 23, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed H.B. 2 into law. This wide-sweeping legislation puts into place broad anti-LGBT provisions. In addition to nullifying LGBT non-discrimination laws in cities across North Carolina, this bill also requires all people to use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth – specifically targeting transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

The outcry and outrage following the bill’s swift passage and signing has been far-reaching and powerful. In fact, more than 100 CEOs of major companies have signed a letter, urging Governor McCrory to repeal this legislation, and the NBA and other sporting entities are reevaluating events planned in North Carolina, like the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte. Learn more about the bill and all the areas in which it would allow discrimination against the LGBT community.

Many Reform Jews and Reform Jewish congregations have spoken out against this bill. What follows is a statement from my congregation, Temple Emanuel of Greensboro. In the temple’s history, we have only released three policy statements on behalf of the congregation. One, in support of early Iran sanctions, another in 2012 in opposition to an amendment to the state’s constitution opposing marriage equality, and most recently, this statement from the Board of Trustees and the rabbis of the congregation:

“Temple Emanuel of Greensboro, North Carolina regrets the passage of H.B 2.  As Jews, we realize that discrimination against the few can lead to discrimination against the many. We would recall that in 1935, the Nuremberg laws prohibited marriage between Jews and Germans or people of kindred blood. Based upon the history of the murder of six million Jews, laws promoting discrimination against any group are for us extremely troubling.

When this country was founded over two hundred years ago, "we the people" included only white males. Since that time, America has made every effort to include those who were previously excluded.  We remain committed to the premise that equal protection under the law, as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the United States constitution, must be extended to all of our citizens.

We are concerned that this law eliminates existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such provisions from being passed by cities in the future. Statewide non-discrimination laws do not include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.  We are worried that because the law directly contravenes Title IX, which is federal funding for education, our schools could lose $4.5 billion.

Nearly one hundred local and national businesses and corporations have expressed their opposition to this law.  Included in this list is the High Point Furniture Market which is the largest economic engine in North Carolina. We are also aware that both the NCAA and the NBA have expressed concern and might be removing previously scheduled national sporting events from our state.  Finally, economists maintain that the economic damage the state may suffer as a result of H.B.2 will disproportionately impact poor and working-class families.

Temple Emanuel, in keeping with Jewish tradition's emphasis on the dignity of all human beings made in the divine image (b'tzelem Elohim), and also with our Union for Reform Judaism's recent resolution on the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people, urges the repeal of H.B. 2.

The Reform Jewish Movement has been an advocate of gay and lesbian rights since 1965, especially in the areas of worship and synagogue life, Civil Rights, Employment non Discrimination and the right to marry.

Temple Emanuel of Greensboro has been, and will remain, a congregation that welcomes transgender and gender non-conforming members and guests. Our prayers are with North Carolinians whose dignity and humanity is under attack. We stand with them, and against those who would strip them of their protections under the law.”

Learn more about LGBT equality at the RAC’s issue page here. You can look up legislation in your state on these issues by visiting this resource from our partners at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. On Sunday, April 3, College Park Baptist Church in Greensboro hosted a rally against H.B. 2. You can listen to Rabbi Guttman's speech at the rally here.

Rabbi Fred Guttman is the senior rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Greensboro, N.C. He is a dual citizen of the United States and Israel and served in an Israel combat unit in the 1980s.

Rabbi Fred Guttman

Published: 4/04/2016