Two weeks ago in this space, we listed seven questions that Gov. Pat McCrory should answer to clear things up for people who are concerned about the new anti-LGBT law or confused about why McCrory signed it just hours after the General Assembly passed it in a rushed special session.
McCrory has spent much of the last two weeks refusing to answer reporters’ questions about the law and the executive order he issued Tuesday.
He has been taken away from an event in a boat to avoid reporters’ questions, taken refuge in a high school principal’s office to avoid the press at another, and was apparently too ill to take questions at a third event where he made a lengthy public statement on another topic.
Monday McCrory promised he would talk about the legislation the next day and he did, but in a video he released in which he explained the executive order he issued to try to stem the tide of national opposition to the law and decisions by corporations to abandon plans to invest in the state.
McCrory did do one interview, with Time Warner Cable News, where he responded to questions with confusing answers that left many important issues about the legislation unaddressed despite the best efforts of the interviewer.
Here then are seven questions that McCrory still hasn’t answered about the legislation that is so controversial it may define his first term in office.
1) Why does he believe that it should be legal for business to fire and deny services to LGBT people in North Carolina?
The Charlotte ordinance that McCrory’s law overturned prohibited companies from firing LGBT workers because of their sexual orientation just like they are banned from firing employees because of their race, religion, gender, country of origin, etc.
The statewide nondiscrimination standard established in McCrory’s law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. McCrory’s executive order does extend protections to some LGBT state employees—though notably not teachers—and when McCrory was asked why he did support extending that to all workers in the state, he said that government should not set the employment policies for private businesses.
But the government already does. It is currently illegal to fire someone based on their race, religion, gender, etc. Why does he believe that LGBT people do not deserve the same protection? Or does he also think the government has no place telling businesses they can’t fire workers based on their race or religion either?
2) Should it be legal for hotels, restaurants, taxi companies, and other businesses in Charlotte and across the state to refuse to serve people because of their sexual orientation? McCrory apparently thinks so.
The Charlotte ordinance that McCrory’s law overturned also protected LGBT people from discrimination in such public accommodations, and it prohibits any other local government from passing such protections. LGBT people are also not protected in the statewide public accommodations protections in the law.
McCrory has made no comments about this part of the law and didn’t mention it in his executive order.
3) What evidence does he have that allowing transgender people to use the public bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity will endanger women and children?
McCrory’s executive order leaves the bathroom part of HB2 intact and he has restated his support for “bathroom safety” many times. But he has yet to provide any evidence that there have been problems in the 17 states and 200+ cities with ordinances like Charlotte’s that allow transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.
Has McCrory or his staff even checked with the local officials in Columbia, S.C. or Des Moines, or Minneapolis or any other city that grants transgender people this basic dignity?
4) Why did he sign the bill hours after the special session of the General Assembly if he knew there were serious problems with it?
His only attempt at an answer was his claim that he had to sign it because the Charlotte ordinance was scheduled to take effect April 1st.
But he signed the legislation March 23rd. If he thought there were so many problems with the bill, why didn’t he veto it and demand that lawmakers pass a narrower version in the following eight days. If there was time to pass the sweeping bill in a day, surely the House and Senate could have passed much less comprehensive legislation in a week.
5) McCrory’s executive order asks the General Assembly to restore the rights of workers illegally fired because of their race, religion, gender, etc., to sue in state court, a right taken away by HB2. That makes North Carolina and Mississippi the only two states in the country where illegally fired workers cannot take their case to the courts in their own state.
What assurances has McCrory received from legislative leaders that they will comply with his request and what happens if they don’t? Is he prepared to follow through on this promise and make restoring this right a priority?
McCrory received national attention last summer after the mass murder in an African-American church in Charleston when he said North Carolina should no longer issue license plates bearing the confederate flag. But the General Assembly ignored the request and McCrory’s Department of Motor Vehicles is still issuing the confederate plates.
6) Why does McCrory keep claiming that corporations objecting to the law simply don’t understand it, including the companies who have decided to cancel announced plans to expand operations in the state?
Does McCrory believe that major companies like PayPal, Deutsche Bank, Apple, Google, etc. make major policy proclamations about laws without careful consideration of the law by their massive legal staffs? Does he really believe that he understands the law better than lawyers for the multinational corporations?
7) And finally, why does McCrory keep complaining about the media coverage of HB2 and his executive order when he refuses to hold a news conference or talk to reporters at events to explain it?
McCrory continues to avoid public questions about HB2 at all costs, and complained about being “blindsided” by questions when he was asked about it an event not long after he signed the bill. It is past time for McCrory to hold a news conference and answer questions about the bill he signed into law and the damage it is doing to North Carolina.