Things are looking mighty bleak for the North Carolina Values Coalition. Not only are they losing Republican legislators on HB 2, not only has Hillary Clinton jumped out to a 21-point lead in early voting and is on pace to cruise to a win here (likely sealing the deal on the election), but Governor Pat McCrory — Tony Perkins’ new golden boy because he signed a law codifying discrimination against transgender people into state law — is locked in the re-election fight of his life with Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Democratic nominee who promises to repeal HB 2.
So, being that this is a group of people who claim moral superiority, there’s only one obvious play when things get tough: release what might be the most despicable ad in North Carolina politics since the infamous Jesse Helms “Hands” ad.
Here’s the awful, scummy ad that the NC Values Coalition released yesterday.
Calling it an “incredibly powerful new ad,” the NCVC says: “This sheds light on what HB 2 is really about: protecting the privacy rights and safety of women and children. Roy Cooper can’t seem to understand that. Not only has he failed to defend the bill—as mandated by his job responsibilities as our Attorney General—but he has also campaigned against it. Cooper’s bathroom plan would instead expose our women and children to unnecessary risk of sexual assault and invade their privacy.
It’s not a new ad, however: it’s quite literally the same exact one that anti-LGBT groups in Houston ran last October, when Proposition 1 was on the ballot there, except they changed the wording slightly to be about Roy Cooper instead of Proposition 1.
That ad in Houston worked: voters rejected the ordinance that would provide protections for LGBT people by double digits.
Let’s forget, for a second, that the North Carolina Republican Party paid for an anti-HB 2 mailer this week. Let’s forget that the NCVC’s preferred candidate, McCrory, supports a candidate for president who has nearly a dozen sexual assault allegations against him right now.
This is just wrong. Showing a video of a man entering a stall with a girl who can’t be more than eight or nine is fear-mongering at its worst. Transgender women are not men; they are women. And they just want to be able to take a shit in peace, not harm your children. These people are not monsters.
Even more than that, however, it’s a misrepresentation of what the law actually does. Given that businesses can (unfortunately) pick and choose whether or not they want to give transgender people the right to use the bathroom that affirms their gender identity, the real fight over the law is taking place in schools, where transgender children who want to use the bathroom of their affirmed gender identity are the same age as cisgender children.
Responding to criticism of the video from a Cooper supporter on the NC Values Coalition’s Facebook page, the NCVC responded, “You are absolutely wrong. There are hundreds of cases of transgender men gaining access to women’s bathrooms to harm women.”
This is blatantly false:
Spokespeople from the Transgender Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union told Mic that no statistical evidence of violence exists to warrant this legislation. Vincent Villano, the director of communications for the National Center for Transgender Equality, told Mic in an email that there isn’t any firm data to corroborate these lawmakers’ claims, and that NCTE has “not heard of a single instance of a transgender person harassing a non-transgender person in a public restroom. Those who claim otherwise have no evidence that this is true and use this notion to prey on the public’s stereotypes and fears about transgender people.”
The Advocate noted the same glaring fact last month regarding Texas’ bathroom legislation: “There has never been a verifiable reported instance of a trans person harassing a cisgender person, nor have there been any confirmed reports of male predators ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them.”
And here, from the amicus brief to the ACLU’s case against HB 2 by New York State University assistant chief of police Aran Mull:
I am aware of no evidence or information to support the notion that individuals will use non-discrimination ordinances to engage in, or justify, predatory or criminal behavior. I have never personally observed, or heard any reports from subordinates or officers in other jurisdictions, of any individual citing a nondiscrimination ordinance or law as an excuse to commit a crime.
And Richland County, South Carolina Sheriff Leon Lott, cited by Mull in his brief:
In the 41 years I have been in law enforcement in South Carolina, I have never heard of a transgender person attacking or otherwise bothering someone in a restroom. This is a non-issue.”
And Suffolk County, Massachusetts District Attorney Daniel F. Conley:
In my fourteen years as District Attorney, there has not been a single case – not one – of a person who ‘pretended’ to adopt another gender identity in order to commit a crime. If anyone had done so, they would have been prosecuted. And rest assured that after this bill is passed, as I hope it will be, people will still not be allowed to use gender identity claims to break the law. Period.
This goes on and on and on — law enforcement officials, lawyers, schoolteachers, superintendents, and basically anyone who has experience in a school district, municipality or state where transgender rights are protected have found absolutely no evidence that laws similar to the Charlotte ordinance led to any increase in sexual assault whatsoever.
“HB 2 is about discriminating against North Carolinians for Pat McCrory’s political gain – and this shameful, exploitative ad proves it,” Cooper campaign spokesman Ford Porter told INDY Week. “Just yesterday, as the consequences of this disastrous law drag down the campaigns of HB 2 supporters, even the North Carolina Republican Party admitted that HB 2 does nothing to protect families from sexual predators and should be repealed. It’s time for Governor McCrory to put his partisan social agenda aside, condemn this disgraceful ad, and work to repeal HB2.”
“The people of North Carolina know all too well the real harms of HB2,” Human Rights Campaign communications director Jay Brown said in a statement. “This vile law has cost almost $700 million and thousands of jobs, damaged the state’s reputation, and puts a target on the the back of LGBTQ people. The responsibility for these real damages rests with Governor McCrory and voters can send a loud and clear signal that they’re done with his divisive, discriminatory politics.”