North Carolina Governor Does Damage Control After Criticism Of Anti-LGBT Law

Pat McCrory said there's "selective outrage" over the new law.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) does damage control over anti-LGBT law.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) does damage control over anti-LGBT law.
Al Drago via Getty Images

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) is doing damage control after being criticized for a law that discriminates against the LGBT community.

In a press release Tuesday, McCrory announced he'd signed an executive order clarifying the language of HB2, a bill he signed in March that blocked cities and counties from passing anti-discrimination policies.

“After listening to people’s feedback for the past several weeks on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina,” McCrory said before outlining his executive order, which he says does the following:

  • Maintains common sense gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities in government buildings and schools
  • Affirms the private sector’s right to establish its own restroom and locker room policies
  • Affirms the private sector and local governments’ right to establish non-discrimination employment policies for its own employees
  • Expands the state’s employment policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Seeks legislation to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination

The only real change is the expansion of the state employment policies. Beyond that, McCrory simply reaffirms the provisions in the new law.

According to the release, the executive order "maintains common sense gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities in government buildings and schools," forcing trans individuals to use the restroom of the gender on their birth certificate, rather than the gender they identify with. (The president of the University of North Carolina suggested in an April 5 memo that the university system has no idea how to enforce that rule.)

The release also says the private sector can establish its own locker room policies and "establish non-discrimination employment policies for its own employees" -- something they could have done anyway under the new law. His executive order still bars cities from enacting their own LGBT-friendly nondiscrimination policies.

Sarah Preston, the acting executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, said in a statement McCrory's executive order is not enough:

Gov. McCrory’s actions today are a poor effort to save face after his sweeping attacks on the LGBT community, and they fall far short of correcting the damage done when he signed the harmful House Bill 2 into law which stigmatizes and mandates discrimination against gay and transgender people. With this executive order, LGBT individuals still lack legal protections from discrimination, and transgender people are still explicitly targeted by being forced to use the wrong restroom.

McCrory has repeatedly brushed off criticism of the law, at one point calling opposition to the measure "political theater."

“We are not taking away any rights whatsoever of individuals,” McCrory told NBC News, adding that he thinks “this political correctness has gone amok.”

Earlier Tuesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest denounced anti-LGBT bills like the one passed in North Carolina. He noted that the state, like others that have passed similarly discriminatory bills, has a history of struggling with civil rights.

"This is a good illustration that the fight for civil rights is not over," Earnest said.

The state has experienced significant economic backlash since the law was signed, with artist Bruce Springsteen canceling a show in the state and influential figures in the NCAA and NBA expressing their concerns over the law.

PayPal announced it had canceled a scheduled expansion in the state, taking 400 potential jobs with it. A group of high-profile business leaders -- including the heads of Apple, Facebook, Airbnb, Yahoo, Twitter, Salesforce, Marriott, Pfizer, Levi Strauss and Bank of America -- recently sent a letter calling for the full repeal of the law.

Jennifer Bendery contributed to this report.

This story has been updated.

CORRECTION: This story incorrectly stated that Bryan Adams canceled a show in North Carolina. He actually canceled a show in Mississippi.

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