POLITICS

Embattled NC Governor Calls Gay Rights Group 'More Powerful Than The NRA'

Pat McCrory defended the so-called bathroom bill that has created a nationwide backlash against North Carolina.

Under attack for signing the controversial anti-LGBT law known as HB2, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said Sunday that a gay rights advocacy group is more powerful than the National Rifle Association.

"The Human Rights Council. My gosh, they're more powerful than the NRA," McCrory told Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press," alluding to the nation's premier gun lobby. "And they have millions of dollars, which makes me want to overturn [Citizens] United, because I don't know who their donors are, either. But they are putting on a lot of pressure, instead of having good dialogue."

Despite the group's power, McCrory didn't have its name right; it appears he was alluding to the Human Rights Campaign, which lobbies on civil rights for the LGBT community. The group has been a leading critic of the new law.

McCrory has been battered politically for approving HB2, better known as the Charlotte bathroom bill. The law requires that transgender people use public restrooms that correspond with the gender on their birth certificate, which LGBT groups say enshrines discrimination. The bill also prevents local governments from passing their own laws that might apply to bathrooms in private businesses.

HB2 was passed to forestall an anti-discrimination measure passed in the city of Charlotte that would have guaranteed transgender people the right to use restrooms according to the gender with which they identify -- a right assured in many other cities. (The state bill went beyond just the restroom issue, preventing local jurisdictions from enacting their own minimum wages, too.)

The backlash to the law has been withering. Some corporations have scrapped plans to bring new offices to the state so long as the law is in effect. Other local governments have cut off official travel to North Carolina. Even Bruce Springsteen canceled a scheduled show.

McCrory has said he wants to rework parts of the bill, but he stood by the restroom stipulations that have stirred so much controversy. He also said the bill would not be repealed.

"I don't think the government should be telling the private sector what their restroom and shower law should be, to allow a man into a woman's restroom or shower facility at a YMCA, for example," McCrory said Sunday. He added that, in his opinion, Charlotte "overstepped." 

In a response to McCrory's interview, the Human Rights Campaign said the governor "invoked an outdated and retrograde argument" to discriminate against LGBT people.

“Pat McCrory can’t have it both ways and say he doesn’t want the government to tell the private sector what to do while he also sticks his head in the sand and ignores more than 160 businesses who have clearly said they want H.B. 2 repealed,” Chad Griffin, HRC's president, said.

McCrory said he was trying to balance questions of equality with privacy, "including even privacy in the most private of area of life, which is a restroom, locker room or shower facility."

To that, Todd asked if transgender people should not expect the same kind of privacy.

"Do you want someone who identifies as a woman, born on their birth certificate as a man, [who] may look like a woman, going into a men's bathroom?" Todd asked. "Is that fair to them?"

McCrory didn't answer that one.

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