By John Mack Freeman
It has not been a good month to be North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory. Last month, he signed into law HB 2 that, among other things, stripped cities of their rights to develop protections for GLBT people and that also blocked trans people from using public restrooms that align with their gender identities. The backlash was swift and has continued well beyond when most thought it would die down.
This led Governor McCrory to issue a state executive order this week that attempted to mollify the concerns of people. Via Advocate.com:
The order does affirm that private businesses and nonprofit groups can establish their own policies for these facilities, something that was not affected by the law but has been the subject of some confusion.
McCrory’s action also affirms that private businesses, nonprofits, and local governments can establish their own employment nondiscrimination policies — for their own workers. And it expands the state’s employment nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity — that is, for state employees.
McCrory said he will also seek legislation allowing workers to sue in state court for discrimination, something that was explicitly barred by HB 2.
Most people are decrying this order as far too little. First, it makes very minor changes to the law without dealing with its most harmful aspects. Further, anything besides full repeal is little more than theatre. Governor McCrory maintains that the law doesn’t do anything but establish common sense constraints and that it has been willfully misinterpreted. By the media. And the business community. And the entertainment community. And the Democratic North Carolina Attorney General. And people across the country who are opposed to the abridgment of GLBT rights.
This law has led to numerous businesses and entertainers backing away from the state. Paypal and Duetsche Bank have both halted planned expansions into the state, citing the law. Entertainers Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr have cancelled concerts in the state. Local tourism boards are noting that several conventions have already pulled out, citing the law. A more comprehensive list can be seen here.
While it is likely that this law will stay on the books until a non-Republican majority can be elected to the state legislature and governorship, these moves show that there is a decreasing tolerance in the national public at-large for these sorts of discriminatory measures.