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A Finger in the Eye 

Another week, another round of back-and-forth between HB 2 supporters and opponents. A sampling: "The gender-neutral bathrooms aren't used just by transgender folks," writes Mike W. "They're used by criminals and sexual predators. ... This is not something that is done to insult people or make them feel uncomfortable, it is something we do to offer privacy and security to all who use a public restroom."

"Laws about separate accommodations for blacks, such as water fountains, didn't really seem substantial at the time," counters Randy A. Riddle. "Both blacks and whites had access to their own water fountains, right? Water fountain laws were symbols of a larger pattern of discrimination and violence against blacks and other minorities. They were one piece of a larger puzzle about equality. Similarly, the 'bathroom' law is purely symbolic. It's unenforceable. However, did you know that a transgender person is murdered every twenty-nine hours just because of who they are?"

The Reverend Rollin Russell, of the Orange-Durham chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, takes issue with Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest using state letterhead to ask churches to host him, as INDYweek.com first reported last week. This, he argues, is a "finger in the eye to federal law, which bars tax-exempt groups from intervening in partisan politics. Forest's letter goes on to suggest a format for such a visit: 'invite me to attend a Sunday service at your church ... have me on stage side-by-side with you and you conduct a Q and A session.' Never mind that he is running for re-election. Does he not know that to do as he suggests would place any such church in possible violation of IRS rules and endanger its tax exemption, [or] that churches are forbidden to engage in partisan political activity? Of course he does. He and the church groups to which he panders want to have their cake and eat it too."

Finally, Steven Unger has some thoughts on our story about Raleigh's forthcoming Airbnb rules: "Whole-house rentals when offered on an ongoing basis are really just vacation rentals. ... These need to be regulated much more Airbnb 'private-room' rentals because no host is present to monitor the property and guests and deal with problems that come up."

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