BY TROY MASTERS | After the state of North Carolina adopted a “religious freedom” law that prevented cities across the state from enacting local measures that protect LGBT people and implemented laws prohibiting trans people from using bathroom facilities, the state found itself facing loses of billions of dollars (actual and threatened) and hundreds of jobs.
In an effort to stanch the losses, North Carolina’s Governor McCrory today signed an executive order Tuesday to “clarify” the state’s new anti-LGBT religious freedom laws.
According to the Governor’s Office, Executive Order 93 does the following:
- Maintains the common sense gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities in government buildings and schools.
- Affirms the private sector’s right to establish its own restroom and locker room policies.
- Affirms the private sector and local governments’ right to establish its own non-discrimination employment policies for its own employees
- Expands the state’s employment policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity
- Seeks legislation to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination.
In his statement the governor says:
“After listening to people’s feedback for the past several weeks on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina,” said Governor McCrory. “Based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.”
HB2 eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and had prevented such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation continues to force transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting 4.5 billion dollars in federal funding under Title IX at risk. The executive order appears to do nothing to prevent discrimination against transgender people. Lawmakers had passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session last Wednesday, and Governor McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.
Early reaction to the executive order from LGBT leaders is that the order does little more than underscore the right to discriminate and that nothing short of a full repeal of the law, known as HB2, is acceptable: Most critics note that Executive orders can be undone by future administrations.
Some critics point out that the executive order’s focus on assuring people the state will address their right to sue is odd given that the governor campaigned for inclusion of a provision intended to prevent such suits.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina says the order is a half-measure and leaves many provisions — such as the requirement that people can only use public restrooms matching the gender they were assigned at birth — intact.
“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 into law the harmful House Bill 2, which stigmatizes and mandates discrimination against gay and transgender people,” Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement.