Brown-Wolf: Gender-free bathrooms and the vote (column) | SummitDaily.com

Brown-Wolf: Gender-free bathrooms and the vote (column)

Carrie Brown-Wolf
Think Twice

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've likely heard something about the gender-free bathroom debate. It's been written and talked about often, but my spin on the controversy is not focused on who uses what bathroom but rather on the consequences of the vote. Specifically, I take issue with voters in North Carolina who are now full of complaint.

Here's a brief background: In March, North Carolina's state legislators voted to pass a bill barring transgender people the right to use restrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill, which also pre-empts local legislators from passing nondiscrimination laws.

Given the change in social structures and a growing acceptance of the LGBTQ community, including the legalization of gay marriage, North Carolina's ruling hasn't been sitting well with a lot of American citizens. Sure, there are some who think the southern state is on the righteous path, and there are others who are so terrified of transgender folks that they applaud the move.

However, in recent months, businesses and entertainers have protested the ruling by pulling out of North Carolina and shutting down big events. After Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr canceled concerts, Cirque Du Soleil, Pearl Jam, Deutsche Bank and Pay Pal, among others, altered their business plans, causing an economic rupture for the state.

The consequences of the law have hurt North Carolinians, waking people out of their social-justice slumber. But aren't these people the ones who put the legislators into office in the first place? Articles have been written and stories have been told, quoting furious folk, livid about the economic decline. Maybe those people should have paid more attention during the polling process.

People may not like politicians or the political arena, but voting matters. I'm sorry for the lost jobs, but the people of North Carolina are responsible for the consequences for whom they put into office. A majority voted for the governor and the legislators who supported the ruling. The ramifications of the vote have created dissent, controversy and boycotts.

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Like or dislike, political decisions impact our lives. This is exactly why going to the polls is so crucial. All too often, citizens neglect to vote and/or not to get involved in the process that shapes our country. If that's the case, they shouldn't complain about the outcome — all of the outcomes.

This year, in particular, voting will matter. For those who are shamelessly choosing not to get involved or not to vote because their candidate of choice did not end up on the ballot, please note, there will be consequences. Choosing to abstain is making a choice. It's foolish, lazy and completely irresponsible. Millions of people throughout the world have no voice. Many have no rights at all. It is a privilege to vote and, if there's not a candidate you like, get more involved. Run for office yourself. Take action. But don't sit back on the couch with arms crossed and then have the gall to complain. Voting matters.

The people of North Carolina made a choice when they elected their representatives. The consequences have resulted in an absurd law that has had major economic ramifications. I hope it serves as an example of what not to let happen come November.

Vote. Get others to vote.

Carrie Brown-Wolf lives in Silverthorne.