When we are faced with tragedy, it can be hard to avoid the search for redemption. In the wake of Orlando, friends reach out, trying to find a path out of the darkness of hate. We wring our hands, we pray for victims and we struggle to make sense of the carnage. Still, we are hard-wired to seek meaning.
In the stories that weave the fabric of our humanity, heroes who cannot pivot after a misstep become tragic figures. Only a monumental disruption – like the loss of a most loved child – jars these characters enough to overcome their flaws and seek redemption.
At the end of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the stage is strewn with the bodies of teenagers who fell victim to a hate created by their parents. Furious and frustrated, the Prince declares:
“See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
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That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!”
In Florida, we saw what happens when people nourish themselves with LGBT hate: 49 die at the hands of a man who hates people he has never met, 49 lives are cut short way too soon, 49 families are broken forever. And many others will live permanently scarred from that terrible day.
In the spirit of writing a better story, North Carolina must decide whether it will choose to back off from such hate or risk its escalation. House Bill 2 is a N.C. law that diminishes the right to sue for discrimination in state court and prohibits transgender people from using restrooms that match their gender identities. It was not passed to fix a genuine harm, but it has caused real emotional and economic harm to the people of North Carolina.
Whether or not it came from a place of hate, political opportunism or something else, HB2 fuels the basest and most dangerous of human instincts. We saw in Orlando that such hate can lead to more harrowing damage than canceled concerts and lost business opportunities.
The day after the Orlando shootings, members of the LGBT community must have felt doubly unsafe in North Carolina. Their community was targeted for a most horrific mass shooting in the South, and HB2 remains the law of their state.
In memory of the Orlando victims and to show support for the safety and well-being of our LGBT community, now is the time to acknowledge the poisonous potential of hate and show that North Carolina stands against it. Now is the time to act from a place of compassion for our LGBT community and repeal HB2.
Deborah R. Gerhardt is an associate professor at the UNC School of Law in Chapel Hill.