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March 28, 2016

Lawsuit to Be Filed Challenging Broadest Anti-LGBT Law in the Nation

By David Barkey, Religious Freedom Counsel


Under the false and offensive pretext of safety in bathrooms, North Carolina last week enacted the broadest anti-LGBT law in the nation.  Adopted in a reckless and inequitable manner, the new law not only sanctions discrimination against LGBT people, but undermines the rights of virtually all North Carolinians.  Yesterday, ACLU, Lamda Legal and Equality North Carolina announced that they will be filing a federal lawsuit challenging the statute.

In February 2016, the City of Charlotte, NC added protections for the categories of gender identity and sexual orientation to its Non-Discrimination Ordinance.  In response, the State Legislature called a special session, customarily reserved for budget, natural disaster or redistricting emergencies, to overturn the amended Ordinance.

Flag_of_North_Carolina.svgWithin twenty-four hours, the legislature – without public hearings or input – hastily enacted sweeping legislation (House Bill 2) and the Governor signed it into law.  It prohibits transgender people from using restrooms or changing facilities in accordance with their gender identity, which ironically will require transgender men to use women’s facilities. But the law did not stop there.

It prohibits local government from adopting any anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people.  Furthermore, the law prohibits any North Carolinian from filing an anti-discrimination lawsuit in state court, including a religious discrimination claim.  It also bars local governments from raising the minimum wage or requiring contractors to pay a prevailing wage or to provide benefits such as sick leave.

House Bill 2, and the process by which it was adopted, are disgraceful.  The law conveys the clear message that the majority of North Carolina’s state government sanctions discrimination against LGBT people.  Undoubtedly it will damage the State’s economy, result in costly litigation, and jeopardize federal funding for North Carolina.  We are confident that the court hearing the lawsuit challenging House Bill 2 will strike down this appalling and unconstitutional law if the legislature does not reconsider and repeal it first.

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August 8, 2014

North Carolina Restaurant Discontinues Praying Customer Discount

Last week a North Carolina diner’s reported four-year-old 15% customer discount for “praying in public” before meals gained widespread attention after a patron’s receipt showing the rebate was posted on Facebook.  This attention was also the discount’s demise.  After multiple news reports appeared, commentators and organizations began speculating that the practice was illegal, and the diner ended the discount. north-carolina-restaurant-discount

Federal public accommodation laws, which cover restaurants and diners, prohibit unequal treatment of customers in the enjoyment of goods and services based on religion, as well as on race, color, or nation origin.  The discount may have violated the law because it effectively favored religious customers over non-believers or other customers who – for whatever reason – choose not to pray in public.

The marketplace brings together Americans of all races, religions and backgrounds.  In addition to likely being illegal, commercial discounts based on religious practices are divisive, antithetical to our pluralistic society, and simply an ill-advised business practice.  The diner did the right thing in discontinuing the discount it was offering.

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June 25, 2014

King Samir Shabazz Said To Be Arrested On “Gun Related Charges”

New Black Panther Party (NBPP) National Field Marshall King Samir Shabazz was arrested “on alleged probation violations and gun related charges” according to former NBPP leader Malik Zulu Shabazz.samir-shabazz-arrested-new-black-panther-malik

While the details of his reported arrest are still unclear, Samir Shabazz was previously arrested in June 2013 in New York for carrying a loaded, unlicensed firearm and illegally wearing body armor.

In an online radio interview on June 17, Shabazz, whose former name is Maruse Heath, announced that on July 5 he would be speaking in Charlotte, North Carolina, and that he intends to start a Charlotte chapter of the NBPP.

In the same interview, Shabazz ranted about the “damn lying bastard, the white man,” stating, “I don’t plan on committing no damn suicide. Damn it, I’m preparing for some homicide, on my enemy.”

Such violent rhetoric is nothing new for Shabazz, who pub­licly stated that NBPP mem­bers should press their uni­forms so the crease could “cut that cracker’s throat in half and watch his head roll down the street.”

In an August 2012 NBPP online radio broad­cast, he went on a vicious tirade describ­ing white nurs­eries and churches as legit­i­mate tar­gets for bombing stating “You’re going to have to go into the God damn nurs­ery and just throw a damn bomb in the damn nurs­ery and just kill every­thing white in sight that ain’t right,” and “Well we gonna throw a bomb in that God damn church, burn up the cracker, burn up the cracker Jesus, and burn up some cracker white supremacy.”

In 2009, Shabazz was impli­cated in a U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice suit after a voter intim­i­da­tion inci­dent while he was head of the NBPP’s Philadel­phia chapter. Additionally, he was arrested and released in 2008 for dis­or­derly con­duct after he and oth­ers inter­rupted a rally in Atlantic City.

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