Citing “misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy,” North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has issued an executive order amending his state’s outrageous House Bill 2, which, among other things, requires transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificates in government buildings, and kills local anti-discrimination ordinances. So if you said, “Hey, that’s fucked up!” when you read about this law, well, you were just misinformed and here’s some new information to digest. This how McCrory delivers “common-sense solutions to complex issues.”
(Previously, McCrory said a question about the practical implications of his bill had “blindsided” him and that he wasn’t “aware” of how things like Greensboro’s fair-housing ordinance and a policy governing municipal contracts in Raleigh would be affected, which is to say that misinformation seems to run thick in some parts.)
▪ It would encourage legislation to reinstate the right of employees to sue their employers in state court for discrimination. House Bill 2 took that right away, and requires those lawsuits be filed in federal court only, reducing people’s access to the courts.
▪ Expands North Carolina’s policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity. Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is running against McCrory for governor, previously said he would not defend a lawsuit against the bill because he is already representing two state departments — the treasurer’s office and his own office —that have their own discrimination policies. This provision appears to give all state employees the same protections as already exist in those two departments. Cooper has called for the law to be repealed.
▪ Reaffirms the new law’s requirement that gender-specific restrooms and locker rooms in government buildings and schools be maintained.
▪ Reaffirms the provision in the new law that gives businesses and local governments the right to establish non-discriminatory policies for their own employees.
▪ Reaffirms the law’s provision that allows the private sector to establish its own restroom and locker room policies.
So basically, it affirms much of the bill (including its controversial bathroom portions), suggests reinstating the right of all North Carolinians to sue for discrimination, and expands discrimination protections for LGBT state employees.
In McCrory’s own words (in the video above), this order “maintains common sense gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities in government buildings in schools.” He says “maintains,” I say “rubs already established state-sanctioned disparity in your face.” There’s no common sense in assuming that trans people are predatory. There’s no common sense in assuming that all that’s keeping a rapist from hiding out in a bathroom is a sign on its door. (“I’m cool with sexual assault, but I’m far too polite to enter what the state says is the ‘wrong’ bathroom. You got me.”)
Mark Joseph Stern at Slate points out that among these addenda and reaffirmations, expanding North Carolina’s policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity is “important,” but then again:
...How can that be when a state law still forbids trans state employees from using the public bathroom that aligns with their gender identity? After today, one North Carolina law (the executive order) prohibits discrimination against trans government employees—and one law (HB2) mandates it.
Great point. Could it be that McCrory just doesn’t have the best interests of all of his state’s citizens in mind? In his video announcement, he claims that the Charlotte City Council’s approval of LGBT protections in February, to which HB2 was a direct response and a reversal, was a “solution in search of a problem.” You can see how he’d think that if he never considered any existence beyond his own. It’s just common sense.
The ACLU of North Carolina Acting Executive Director Sarah Preston called the order “a poor effort to save face after his sweeping attacks on the LGBT community,” citing the “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.”