The May 2017 issue of response included an article on a United Methodist Women-sponsored rally against North Carolina’s House Bill 2 in January 2017. United Methodist Women chose to stand against HB2 because it used women’s rights to privacy and safety as a ruse to enact legislation that harms low-income workers, targets transgender persons, and promotes injustice, because it took aim at workers’ wages and right to seek redress for workplace grievances, and because it shortened the time period in which workers can take action against discrimination. I was proud to be a United Methodist Women member at that rally.
Before acting we consulted with the North Carolina Conference and Western North Carolina Conference United Methodist Women presidents, who shared our concerns about the three areas addressed in the bill. Women do have a right to privacy and safety in locker rooms and bathrooms, and navigating this new landscape will take thoughtful efforts that respect the rights of all. HB2 did not approach this careful bar.
The United Methodist Social Principles support policies promoting adequate income (¶163E) and call for equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation (¶162J). By removing sexual orientation from the list of protected conditions, HB2 allowed discrimination in public accommodations. United Methodist Women affirms the dignity and personhood of all women, children and youth. At our rally, marginalized communities affected by the bill were given a space to share their experiences. United Methodist Women has always been a space for people most affected by discriminatory policies and practices to speak and be heard.
We may have a wide variety of views about how we can address these matters, but they are also issues that impact the people United Methodist Women has been called by God to serve. United Methodist Women members do not shy away from controversial issues as we seek to be faithful to our call to mission. The new so-called HB2 repeal bill enacted in March 2017 still includes many of the same economic and civil rights violations, so it is important to continue to listen to those most affected. Our foremothers lived their commitment to serve the needs and improve the lives of women, children and youth of their day, even with their own array of viewpoints, and today we can do no less.