Members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies won decisive victories across the South on Wednesday, thanks in large part to public pressure.
Oxford, Alabama–home of the nation’s toughest anti-trans bathroom bill–rescinded the law it had passed just a week earlier by a 3-2 margin during a special meeting of the city council. The room was packed beyond its capacity of 100 people.
Advocates across the state have spoken out against the bill as a form of legal discrimination against transgender individuals.
“This ordinance was unprecedented in its criminal penalties, and its citizen policing provisions. The transgender community is already being targeted nationwide for violence and harassment.”
– Eva Walton Kendrick, Human Rights Campaign of Alabama
The Southern Poverty Law Center and ACLU of Alabama had threatened legal action earlier that day unless the law were fully repealed. Council members were clearly concerned about the national attention their bill had garnered as well as the possibility of litigation.
These so-called “bathroom bills” received another blow yesterday as the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to North Carolina’s governor informing him that a similar bill passed by his state violated the Civil Rights Act. Should the state attempt to enforce the law, it risks losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding. The Justice Department gave North Carolina until Monday, May 09 to decide how it will proceed. The state’s attorney general has already said he will not defend the law.
Despite a string of victories including the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, the failure of a discriminatory “religious freedom” bill in Georgia, and the growing irrelevance of opponents like Kim Davis and Chief Justice Roy Moore, there is still cause for concern.
Tennessee just passed a law allowing therapists to reject LGBTQ+ clients, a Mississippi law allowing businesses and state agencies to deny services to LGBTQ+ individuals remains in effect, and members of Oxford’s city council say they are committed to finding ways to legalize discrimination without running afoul of federal law.
[I will] contact our state delegation and begin work on one of the most effective and punitive anti-predator laws in the nation.
– Charlotte Hubbard, Oxford Council Member
Political correctness, the fear of litigation, and the almighty dollar should never hold our city ransom.
– Steven Waits, Oxford Council President
If they’re not done with it, we’re not either.
– Lucía Hermo, American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama
We’ll certainly be watching the situation very closely.
– Chinyere Ezie, Southern Poverty Law Center
LGBTQ+ rights advocates are expected to rally in Oxford on Saturday in celebration and a show of solidarity against further action aimed at curtailing the rights of transgender individuals.