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After weeks of bearing the brunt of criticism over his signing of North Carolina’s HB 2 law into place repealing local LGBT ordinances, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has signed into law an executive order that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in state employment.
Following the lead of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who last week issued two executive orders prohibiting LGBT discrimination in state employment and companies that contract with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, McCrory’s order seeks to undo damage done to North Carolina’s reputation by the passage of HB 2. That law repealed a Charlotte City ordinance preventing LGBT discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, prevented all other municipalities from passing similar protections, and wrote into statute that transgender people be required to use only the bathroom designated for their biological sex at birth in schools and in government buildings.
McCrory’s nondiscrimination order applies only to state employment, not private employment or housing. And it keeps in place HB 2’s provisions requiring even transgender state employees to continue using the restroom that does not conform with their gender identity.
But despite McCrory’s best efforts to put a positive spin on his actions — after spending the last few weeks alleging that North Carolina was the victim of an organized “smear campaign” — failed to placate LGBT advocates and allies.
“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,” Sarah Preston, the acting executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement. “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.”
Preston noted that a number of faith leaders, public figures and businesses have come out against HB 2. Musician Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in Greensboro, N.C., over the law, while Jimmy Buffet called the law “stupid” and, although performing in upcoming shows next week, said that future appearances in the state will be dependent on whether the law is repealed. In recent weeks, PayPal and the New Jersey-based Braeburn Pharmaceuticals have either scuttled or halted plans to expand their businesses and create new jobs in the state. Earlier today, they were joined by German banking giant Deutsche Bank, which froze plans to hire an additional 250 workers at its Cary, N.C. facility.
“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,” Preston continued. “We call on Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina legislature to repeal House Bill 2 and replace it with full nondiscrimination protections for all LGBT people.”
“In the wake of overwhelming business and community backlash, Governor Pat McCrory has decided to apply a public relations bandaid, rather than stepping up and directly addressing the enormous harm that he has done by signing HB2 into law, Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center, said in a statement. “This executive order fails to address the core issue of discrimination that is at the heart of HB2, and under it transgender North Carolinians will still be targeted for harassment and discrimination.
“This executive order allows HB2 to stand as the first law in the country explicitly targeting transgender children and communities, which is unacceptable, as shown by the outpouring of opposition from North Carolina cities, leaders, and communities, as well as individuals, organizations, and businesses across the country,” Hayashi added. “Today, Governor Pat McCrory has simply shown he knows that HB2 is a bad law — making it even more egregious that he still refuses to work with the legislature to overturn the entire law.”
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