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Emails reveal HB 2 author compared LGBT people to the Taliban

Release of Rep. Dan Bishop's emails prompt calls for Pat McCrory and other lawmakers to release their own

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (Photo: NCDOTcommunications, via Wikimedia).

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (Photo: NCDOTcommunications, via Wikimedia).

LGBT rights groups are calling for the release of further correspondence between North Carolina’s governor, Senate President and Speaker of the House and anti-LGBT activists who pushed for the passage of anti-LGBT law HB 2.

It follows the release of email documents after an open records request by the Charlotte Business Journal, which revealed that Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte), the author of HB 2, was motivated by his religious beliefs to push the law and once compared LGBT people to the Taliban.

In an email exchange, a constituent urges the one-term lawmaker — who is now using his profile and conservative bona fides from sponsoring HB 2 to seek an open Senate seat — not to “cave in to the Politically Correct Taliban! Y’all should have all of the sane states to coordinate and pass these bills on the same day so one state does not have to stand up to these pompous asses alone.”

Bishop then replied: “I LOVE that idea. Taliban. Love that too. Not giving up. Ever.” He also, in another email, declared that “the LGBT movement jeopardizes freedom.”

In response to the information obtained in the released emails, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality NC highlighted their own open records request — still unanswered from two months ago — asking for communications between Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, and House Speaker regarding their communications on HB 2. Specifically, the LGBT groups are trying to use North Carolina’s Public Records law to obtain any communications the state’s top three elected Republicans have had with anti-LGBT groups, such as the North Carolina Values Coalition or the Alliance Defending Freedom.

“Rep. Bishop’s deep-seated hatred towards LGBTQ North Carolinians has blinded him to reality, so much so that he is comparing people who support basic fairness and equality for LGBTQ people to the Taliban,” JoDee Winterhof, HRC’s senior vice president for policy and political affairs, said. “These documents are just the tip of the iceberg, and clearly demonstrate that the core goal of this legislation was to discriminate and attack the LGBTQ community. It’s unacceptable that McCrory, Berger, and Moore continue to evade their obligation to transparency, and it seems obvious that they are doing so to avoid the public seeing the despicable nature and motivation of this legislation.”

As they call on McCrory, Berger and Moore to comply with their request, the LGBT groups have noted that Bishop’s emails contradict earlier statements from the three that the intent of HB 2 was not intended to discriminate against LGBT people. But they also point out that even Bishop did not comply with the Charlotte Business Journal‘s full request, releasing only 152 emails while insisting that he did not have to because the emails to from his official General Assembly account did not constitute public records.

For its part, the Charlotte Business Journal has continued to ask for additional correspondence, and has asked Bishop to cite any legal authority that supports his interpretation that official email correspondence does not constitute public records. But that leaves LGBT advocates questioning whether there is more damning information that Bishop has chosen to hold onto, and, by extension, that may be contained in any emails between lawmakers and anti-LGBT advocates that speak to HB 2’s intent.

“As someone who grew up in Rep. Bishop’s district, it is deeply disturbing to see such blatant animosity from someone who is supposed to represent all constituents in his district, including LGBTQ people,” Matt Hirschy, Equality NC’s director of advancement, said in a statement. “Based on these outrageous exchanges, it seems clear that pulling back the curtain on legislators’ true intent will reveal the despicable nature and motivation of this legislation.

North Carolinians deserve to know what really motivated Gov. McCrory, Senator Berger, and Speaker Moore to ram through this disastrous legislation,” Hirschy added. “They should immediately release their communications with anti-LGBTQ activists in their plot to pass HB2 into law.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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