Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Welcoming Church: North Carolina Episcopal Bishops Wade Into the Toilet Issue

Those visitors from across the pond may need a little background on the current stink in North Carolina about legislation regarding who might use public toilets. Recently the Charlotte, NC council passed an ordinance which, in hopes of preventing discrimination, would have made it legal for a man to use the woman's restroom. The NC State Legislature quickly responded to public outcry and passed a bill (HB2 link to the actual bill) that would nullify the city of Charlotte's law. The LGBT community has made this a national issue with new boycotts against North Carolina being issued every day.

In the past, people with boy parts would use the "Men's Room" and people with girl parts would use the "Ladies' Room." This arrangement worked well for generations until just recently. Because humanity has evolved beyond biologic sex, we now have something called "gender identity" where a biological male can decide that he is inwardly female and a biological female can decide that she is inwardly male and thus claim that they are most comfortable when urinating or defecating by entering into whichever restroom they feel like on any given day. One of the favored terms used to describe these folks is "trans-gendered" as opposed to those of us who are "cis-gendered". None of this is to be confused with the rare individual with Klinefelter syndrome (47XXY) or Turner syndrome (XO) who, curiously, have not spoken out on the subject.

I grew up in a large city where all sorts of weirdos would frequent public restrooms to the point where children and teens were taught to "hold it" until they got home. Eventually, the city had to put undercover police in the restrooms to catch the pervs which cleaned things up, but there were laws against certain behaviors back then. I am sure that there were occasional acts of vigilante justice where the public took matters into their own hands, but I cannot recall any that made the news. Also, most transvestites (at least the most convincing ones) could sneak in and do their business in whichever restroom corresponded to their dress and their makeup.

Even if these new laws claim to affect just public facilities, it has been the trend in the U.S. to define any place of business as "public". New construction permits are already subject to laws regulating the numbers of  toilets and handicapped accessible restrooms. Most older businesses do not want to invest the 20-40,000 dollars to add a third restroom for the trans-gendered, and the trans lobby is not interested in creating a "separate but equal" potty. I believe they consider that a form of discrimination.

It is a stinking mess, and never the ones to avoid putting their foot into it, here come the Episcopal Bishops of North Carolina with a position paper on bathrooms (from the Episcopal Network),

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, 
In our baptismal covenant, we commit “to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” For many, this is the most difficult promise in the covenant, as it calls us to move beyond our differences, expectations, fears, prejudices and misunderstandings about other people and meet them where they are. At times, it means standing up in the world and speaking truth to power, knowing that there will be resistance. This promise takes us out of our comfort zone and into the uncharted territory of God’s grace. 
In the highly polarized and political environment in which we live, we may be tempted to take sides on an issue or to back off entirely and be silent. But the issue of discrimination is not partisan, nor is it secular. The practice of discrimination by a state or institution limits, even prohibits, us from respecting the dignity of another human being. It inhibits our very capacity to care for one another and to work for the common good. This affects all people. 
On March 23, 2016, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2 (HB2). This bill overtly discriminates against LGBT people and goes further by cutting back on protection against discrimination for anyone in the state. HB2 does this by:
• Refusing to understand the complexity of the lives of transgender persons and criminalizing nonproblematic behavior by members only of that community; • Overturning the local passage of laws by the city of Charlotte to allow transgender persons to use the gender-specific facilities matching their identities, and requiring all people to use facilities according to the biological sex listed on their birth certificates;
• Preventing cities and counties from establishing ordinances extending protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender persons, while making no effort to call for protection at the state level; • Making it more difficult for people who are being discriminated against for reasons of race, age, sex, religion or disability to take legal action by making them take their cases to federal court instead of to the state;
• Discriminating against the working poor by restricting a community’s ability to demand that contractors raise minimum wages to living wages and pay for vacation and sick leave.
In the weeks since the passing of HB2, other states have followed suit, putting forth bills openly supporting discrimination against LGBT persons. Such discrimination by the state reinforces the fear and prejudices of people who do not know or understand the lives of people who are already marginalized in our society. It cultivates an environment in which we do not respect the dignity of each person but instead fight to hold on to personal power and privilege. 
The response against HB2, in North Carolina and around the world, shows evidence that this bill affects the lives of more than a few people using the bathroom; it touches on the ongoing struggle for equality. 
As a Church, we seek to love unconditionally as witnessed in the life of Jesus and follow his example by embracing those who are marginalized by society.
We affirm that all people are created in the image of God and are loved by God.
We oppose laws supporting discrimination against anyone by race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, genetic information or disability.
These are complex issues with wide-reaching ramifications. HB2 was introduced and passed into law in one day, without sufficient time to listen to the voices of all who are affected by the bill. The mounting economic losses for North Carolina show this hasty process did not leave room to consider what impact HB2 would have on our state. We are all paying the price. 
Because we strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity every human being, we call on the North Carolina State Legislature to repeal HB2. We encourage our leaders to listen to the experiences of LGBT citizens and to seek to understand their lives and circumstances. Furthermore, we offer our prayers and support for the LGBT community, and for all who are affected by this bill.

Yours faithfully, 
The Right Reverend Anne E. Hodges-Copple
Bishop Diocesan Pro Tempore of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina
The Right Reverend Porter Taylor
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina
The Right Reverend Robert S. Skirving
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina
The Right Reverend Peter James Lee
Bishop Assisting of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina

If they really respected the dignity of every human being, they would not want men in the Ladies room!

I ask you, have the parish churches in the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina changed all the signage on their bathroom doors to be more welcoming to the transgendered, the transvestite, the transsexual, or the transcurious?

Has the Diocese of North Carolina looked into the cost of renovations to all those small struggling parish buildings if they were to add a special bathroom for those who feel uncomfortable entering into either of the two usual choices?

Why hasn't the Presiding Bishop (an NC bishop himself) waded in?

The great flushing sound you hear is the Episcopal church going down the drain.


  1. How many great flushing sounds must we endure? Perhaps we can hope that some day we shall never again have to listen to these distressfully deranged "religious authorities".

    1. I was kinda hoping the Episcopal church would boycott themselves out of the state.

  2. Travis Cork4:46 AM

    The Superior-Than-Thou Episcopalians; and I thought self-aggrandizement was one of the deadly sins.

  3. Hubris and humus aren't that far apart.

  4. By the way, here is the current status of the Target boycott and it's effect on Target stock.

  5. It seems it would be less expensive to provide litter boxes.