RALEIGH – Gov. Pat McCrory Tuesday announced an executive order that addresses North Carolina’s controversial Pubic Facilities Privacy and Security Act, more commonly known as House Bill 2.
The order maintains sex-specific mandates for restrooms and locker room facilities in government buildings and schools, reiterating that private businesses are allowed to adopt their own policies regarding such facilities.
“This is not a government decision. This is your decision in the private sector.” said McCrory.
Substantively, McCrory said the order expands “our state equal employment opportunity policy to clarify that sexual orientation and gender identity are included.”
Previously, sexual orientation and gender identity were not protected classes for employees of state government. It effectively means that state employees cannot be demoted or fired for being gay or because of their gender identity.
Finally, McCrory said he “will immediately seek legislation in the upcoming short session to reinstate the right to sue for discrimination in North Carolina state courts.”
The last point does not yet change the law, it merely makes a commitment to working with the General Assembly to modify the law when they reconvene April 25.
“Efforts to divide the LGBT community by extending limited protections but leaving in place the rules mandating discrimination against the transgender community will only strengthen our resolve to fight back against this discriminatory and misguided legislative action,” said the ACLU in a response to the executive order on Tuesday afternoon. “We call on Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina legislature to repeal House Bill 2 and replace it with full non-discrimination protections for all LGBT people.”
The executive order comes after a wave of businesses publicly announced their opposition to the law, in some cases canceling planned expansions in the state.
McCrory ended the message saying, “Simply put, I have listened to the people of North Carolina, and the people of North Carolina are entitled to both privacy and equality. We can and we must achieve both of these goals.”
The announcement is raising speculation that Attorney General Roy Cooper, who had refused to defend the state in a lawsuit over H.B.2, may be forced to reconsider his position. Previously he said the law was a “direct conflict” with his own office’s anti-discrimination policy that includes, along with other protections, marital status and sexual orientation – at the time saying that they were two classes not protected by the state.
“There is no excuse for Roy Cooper not defending the law now,” said Dallas Woodhouse executive director of the NCGOP. “He is either going to stand on the side of safety for little girls in bathrooms or he’s not. There is no other choice.”