Gov. Pat McCrory says the fight over HB 2 has gotten personal, making him and his wife into social pariahs because of the public backlash against the anti-LGBT law. He also claims he has become the target of verbal assaults and even death threats because of the law.
McCrory made the comments at a campaign event with the Family Research Council last Friday, where the governor addressed an audience of social conservatives, including prominent anti-LGBT figures. In his remarks, the audio of which was obtained by Buzzfeed, McCrory urged social conservatives to stand up for their beliefs by voting for candidates who support traditional values, or else they risk being permanently silenced.
“You’re being purged because of your silence,” McCrory said. “The people who are speaking up are being purged and I’m seeing it every day … And so the purging is out there, the purging of norms, the purging of money, the purging of being embarrassed, the purging of being called a bigot. Which is an insult to me, because I’m the farthest thing from a bigot. I love everyone and I’m going to treat everyone equally. I want to treat people who are transgender — I want to hug ’em and say I love ’em. But I don’t agree with the concept of redefining gender. That is a major societal change.”
“It’s almost like the George Orwell book 1984, where if you disagree with Big Brother, or you go against the thought police, if you remember that book, you will be purged and you will disappear,” McCrory continued. “My wife, for example, in Charlotte, she primarily stays in Charlotte. She’s been disinvited to charity events, and basically, they call her up and they say, ‘you know, you better not come. You better not come.'”
McCrory also accused the Human Rights Campaign of orchestrating a coordinated campaign to ostracize him while placing pressure on businesses to prevent them from expressing support for the governor or the HB 2 law.
“The head of Bank of America now, or some other companies that just this week told me they cannot support me, ‘Although you’ve been an outstanding governor, we still cannot support you because HRC will attack us,'” he lamented. “And I’ve had at least five this week tell me that. Good friends. Very good friends. ‘Pat, I love ya. I love ya man, we’ll be friends for life. We just can’t support you.'”
McCrory also vented his anger at liberals, blaming them for escalating the fight over transgender people’s ability to use public restrooms.
“It was the liberals that became the bathroom police, not conservatives,” McCrory said. “They passed an ordinance on private sector employers that said, if you don’t recognize gender identity and gender expression — two issues which I had never heard of — we will fine you.”
He added: “I listen to the other side … And I say, ‘I respectfully disagree with you.’ They do not say that to me. I wave to them with five fingers. They wave back with one. And it’s personal. It’s death threats. Last week, I was verbally assaulted by a 21-year-old drunk student. She was arrested.”
McCrory came under scrutiny after Buzzfeed reported on the speech, and the fact that the campaign appearance started just nine minutes after declaring a disaster area in 66 counties due to Hurricane Matthew. Political adversaries criticized his actions, with the Human Rights Campaign pointing out that the Southern Poverty Law Center has named the Family Research Council a “hate group” because of their anti-LGBT initiatives and rhetoric.
“It’s a sign of his misplaced priorities that Governor McCrory would rather campaign for HB 2 while lives in North Carolina were at risk from Hurricane Matthew,” JoeDee Winterhof, HRC’s seniors vice president of policy and political affairs, said in a statement. “Governor McCrory should explain to the people of North Carolina why he was campaigning with a hate group instead of focusing on storm preparedness. This is just the latest example of McCrory putting himself first, playing the victim while real people were suffering.”