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Rejecting an anti-LGBT Law in my NFTY Region

Rejecting an anti-LGBT Law in my NFTY Region

Sam Ressin presenting at NFTY MAR asefah, teens looking on

Who could have thought that the rights of LGBT North Carolinians could be taken away so quickly? I was outraged to learn that just one month ago, in a rushed, 24-hour legislative session, North Carolina proposed and passed what has been called “one of the most anti-LGBT bills” in the nation. HB 2 nullifies already-existing local and municipal LGBT non-discrimination laws, and prevents similar ones from being passed in the future. The bill also requires all people to use restrooms inconsistent with their gender identity, specifically targeting transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

What’s disheartening is that this law is directly contrary to the principle of b’tzelem Elohim (that we are all created in the image of the Divine) and the recent resolution passed at the 2015 URJ Biennial on the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people, which reaffirmed our Movement’s commitment to the full equality, inclusion and acceptance of people of all gender identities and gender expressions. As HB 2 affects the entire state of North Carolina, which is a part of NFTY-MAR, I knew that the region could not stay silent on this issue, especially since NFTY-MAR has a history of advocating for the rights of people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.

After the events of last weekend’s NFTY-MAR Spring Kallah, I could not be prouder to say I belong to such a caring and driven region. At our asefah session on Friday morning – where our region elected next year’s regional board and voted on pending legislation – we unanimously passed a resolution in support of non-discrimination in North Carolina, which was also passed by our friends from NFTY-SAR. Furthermore, we had over 50 teens sign the RAC action alert regarding HB2, urging North Carolina governor Pat McCrory to repeal the bill. We are still encouraging signatures for the action alert, found here, in order to maximize our impact.

The outcry and outrage in response to the North Carolina law was immediate. Over 100 major CEOs have signed a letter by the Human Rights Campaign calling on Governor McCrory to repeal HB 2, and celebrities such as Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and many others have canceled events in the state to protest the law. And, Reform rabbis and congregants in North Carolina have taken strong stands against this discriminatory law, and have inspired NFTY to take action as well.

While HB 2 continues to negatively impact the citizens of North Carolina, the law presented a unique and important opportunity for teen advocates in NFTY to stand for love and acceptance in opposition to hate and fear. I hope that North Carolina ends up repealing this misguided and unjust law, and I am proud that my NFTY region is rightfully saying no to discrimination.

Sam Ressin is the outgoing NFTY MAR Social Action Vice President for the 2015-16 year. He is a senior at James Madison High School in Vienna, VA and a member of Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation in Reston, VA. 

Published: 4/26/2016