“These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
Thomas Paine wrote that to his fellow Americans, deep in the winter of 1776, capturing forever what it means to stand for truth and freedom in a time when the forces that oppose them seemed to be growing ever stronger.
We live in such times ourselves, and every day seems to bring forth events that separate the “sunshine patriots” from the real thing: court decisions and legislative bills and executive actions designed to sever Americans from their religious freedoms … to silence the voices of Christians in our public life … to embrace whatever politically correct fiat is dictated by a culture strangling on its obsession with political correctness.
But courage and wisdom can still be found in surprising moments and places – like North Carolina, where last week state legislators called themselves into special session (by a three-fifths vote of both houses) to repeal a harmful ordinance enacted by the City of Charlotte.
That ordinance (like one overridden by voters in Houston last fall) would have allowed men to share public bathrooms and locker rooms with women and young girls. Businesses attempting to protect their customers’ privacy and security by keeping bathrooms sex-specific would have been threatened with substantial fines and potential jail time.
But in a bipartisan effort, the North Carolina legislature quickly passed the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, which overrode the Charlotte ordinance. And on March 23, Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill.
“We commend the governor for keeping his promise to immediately address the Charlotte ordinance,” says Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Kellie Fiedorek, who provided people in the state with information about the bill. “Sixty-nine percent of North Carolinians agreed that the ordinance was unreasonable and unsafe in forcing women and young girls to undress, shower, or engage in other private activities in the presence of men.
“Because of the leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly and the governor,” Fiedorek says, “the new law will clarify that bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers are limited to persons of the same biological sex. It also clarifies that the state, not local cities and municipalities, is responsible to establish the state’s employment laws in order to avoid a patchwork of varying local laws that would be harmful to commerce, labor, and trade in the state.”
But the courage of North Carolinians isn’t confined to elected officials. Our ADF attorneys encountered a woman who knew from personal experience the terrible implications of permitting men into women’s restrooms: as a child, she was assaulted in a public bathroom. Horrified at what Charlotte officials had done, and fearful that she might encounter a member of the opposite sex in a public restroom or locker room, she had come to the capital to show her support for the General Assembly’s decision to safeguard her privacy rights – even though she had no idea what to do or how to do it.
Our attorneys asked if she would testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the bill, and – though she’d never done anything like that before – she agreed to rearrange her schedule and share her story. Our attorneys encouraged her, prayed with her … and marveled at how God used her brave decision to relate such a terrible experience from her childhood in a way that helped lawmakers recognize just how important this law is for women and girls all over North Carolina.
Not everyone, of course, was pleased with the state’s swift action to protect privacy. The American Civil Liberties Union has already filed a lawsuit to have the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act nullified.
“The privacy rights and safety of North Carolina citizens shouldn’t be cast aside by special interest groups that desire to impose their agenda to create a genderless society,” Fiedorek says. “Part of that agenda now includes challenging a commonsense law that ensures grown men don’t shower and use the bathroom next to little girls.
“This law protects North Carolinians’ privacy by ensuring that the use of public bathrooms, showers, locker rooms, and other intimate settings is based on one’s biological sex while also offering accommodations to those with special circumstances,” Fiedorek says.
The ACLU is not the only group trying to derail the law; companies like American Airlines and Bank of America have joined the National Basketball Association in pulverizing North Carolina’s political leadership. But the same legislators who resisted the Charlotte ordinance have resisted these corporate calls for capitulation. The people of North Carolina, like the people of Houston, are standing firm on this important issue – already raising some 35,000 petition signatures in support of the new measure, while hundreds all over the state are coming together in praver vigils, giving thanks for their political leaders’ courage.
That’s the way of it, in the world’s great, ongoing conflict between truth and lies, freedom and tyranny. There will always be summer soldiers and sunshine patriots. But there will also be those who know “the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
Please be in prayer for our ADF attorneys and allies, as they work to make those triumphs a reality for you and your family and other faithful ones all over America.