Days after blasting critics of his new all-purpose discrimination law for supposedly conducting a “smear campaign,” Gov. Pat McCrory was singing a slightly different tune today in a statement and executive order in which he attempted to walk back some parts of the new law.
Here is the response from the ACLU of North Carolina, which is helping to spearhead the lawsuit against the the HB 2 statute:
RALEIGH — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) today issued an executive order that maintains House Bills 2’s provisions that force transgender people to use the wrong restroom while prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees.
The news follows the passage of House Bill 2, a measure that removes existing protections for gay and transgender people, blocks other localities from enacting protections, erodes existing rights for everyone under state nondiscrimination law, and forces transgender individuals to use the wrong restroom in schools and other government buildings.
In response, ACLU of North Carolina Acting Executive Director Sarah Preston said the following:
“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 into law the harmful House Bill 2, 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.
“An impressive and growing number of businesses, faith leaders, and public figures have come out to condemn House Bill 2 as an unnecessary and dangerous measure that unfairly targets gay and transgender people. Regardless of political affiliation, more and more political leaders also understand that discrimination is bad for business and politically toxic. The public believes in equality and fairness and House Bill 2 and measures like it are out of step with the values of most Americans.
“Efforts to divide the LGBT community by extending limited protections but leaving in place the rules mandating discrimination against the transgender community will only strengthen our resolve to fight back against this discriminatory and misguided legislative action. We call on Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina legislature to repeal House Bill 2 and replace it with full non-discrimination protections for all LGBT people.”
Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of North Carolina recently filed a lawsuit challenging House Bill 2. The lawsuit argues that through HB 2, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state. The complaint argues that HB 2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and invading the privacy of transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex.
The Obama administration is presently considering whether North Carolina’s House Bill 2 makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways, and housing. North Carolina receives more than $4.5 billion in federal funding for secondary and post-secondary schools, all of which remains at jeopardy given the state’s policy of systemically violating Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender students.
The preliminary bottom line: The Guv may have — if he has the authority — done a small favor for LGBT state employees. Whether they can enforce it is another question. But as for LGBT people in the private world (and all of the key provision of HB 2), nothing has changed and all he has done is ask state lawmakers to act — something they have rarely done in the past at his behest.
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