It turns out that the whole controversy about the anti-LGBT law HB2 that is costing North Carolina thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tourism revenue is all the fault of “the radical left” in Charlotte that includes Mayor Jennifer Roberts.
That was Pat McCrory’s take Monday on the law that threatens to swallow his governorship. In recent weeks McCrory has also blamed the liberal media, a politically correct mob of elites unfairly smearing the state, and the Human Rights Campaign in Washington.
He even accuses Roberts and Attorney General Roy Cooper of coordinating with companies looking at boycotting North Carolina.
McCrory and his supporters have also attacked companies like PayPal that canceled a 400-job facility in Charlotte after McCrory signed HB2 and blasted performers like Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam who have canceled concerts in the state as a protest against the law.
In other words, all of the understandable reaction to one of the most sweeping anti-LGBT laws in the nation is someone else’s fault, everyone’s fault it seems except McCrory himself—who actually signed the bill just a couple of hours after it was rushed through a one-day special session of the General Assembly.
McCrory sounds desperate these days and it’s no secret why. He is the face of a hugely unpopular discrimination law and it is taking a toll on him, with his disapproval ratings at an all-time high in the latest survey by a conservative group that is generally supportive of the governor.
What McCrory can’t seem to grasp is that the outrage, like the law itself, is about far more than bathroom policy for transgender people, as offensive as the law is on that topic. The debate now is about basic civil rights for LGBT people in North Carolina.
The Charlotte ordinance was created to protect LGBT people from discrimination on the job and in accessing public services. The law McCrory signed prohibits Charlotte and any other city from protecting them and sets a statewide nondiscrimination standard that makes sure LGBT people can be fired or denied services simply because they are gay or transgender.
McCrory doesn’t like to talk about that because his only defense is a false claim, that other many other states also do not specifically include sexual orientation or gender identity in their nondiscrimination law.
But those states do include sex, which federal courts and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have interpreted to provide protections for LGBT people. The law McCrory hurriedly signed in March includes “biological sex” to make sure that sexual orientation and gender identity are not the basis for discrimination claims.
McCrory’s defensiveness and scolding of the media is doing little to stem the tide of negative publicity about HB2. Questions about the law now follow him to every public appearance, including the one in Charlotte Monday where he was trying to emphasize what he says is positive economic news in the state.
McCrory flailing stands in contrast to what is happening at the General Assembly, where despite some similar chest-thumping about the law in public, discussions are underway behind closed doors to modify or repeal HB2.
Rep. Jon Hardister told the Greensboro News & Record this week that House members are privately discussing ways to respond to the mounting opposition to the law and Rep. John Faircloth said the economic damage to the state is forcing lawmakers to address it.
Somebody needs to tell Gov. McCrory that attacking people who oppose discrimination is not the answer to help North Carolina dig its way out of the mess he and his legislative allies have created.
It’s time for the governor to change course and join the efforts to repeal the law that is punishing people and hurting the state’s economy that he says he’s working so hard to improve.