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North Carolina Governor’s Executive Order Doubles Down on Anti-LGBTQ Law

Michelle D. Anderson

Advocates note that the executive order does nothing to reverse what they deem the unconstitutional elements of HB 2, the law Republican legislators hurriedly passed during a special session in March.

An executive order signed by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) tweaked parts of the state’s sweeping new anti-LGBTQ law, but still prohibits transgender people from using restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

McCrory, in a statement released Tuesday, said Executive Order 93 sought to “clarify” the GOP-backed state law and provide “new protections for North Carolina residents,” while affirming “the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.”

But advocates note that the executive order does nothing to reverse what they deem the unconstitutional elements of HB 2, the law Republican legislators hurriedly passed during a special session in March.

The effort to pass HB 2 came after the Charlotte City Council passed an ordinance to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in public accommodations and housing.

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McCrory on Tuesday called the Charlotte regulation “government overreach” and “a solution in search of a problem.”

In response to that proposal, GOP state lawmakers last month passed HB 2 to ban local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances such as school board policies and regulations that offered protection to LGBTQ people.

HB 2 also allows the state to require people use restrooms, showers, and lockers in public facilities designated for the gender on their birth certificate.

In response to HB 2, the American Civil Liberties Union, Equality North Carolina, and Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit against McCrory, Attorney General Roy Cooper, and the University of North Carolina (UNC) on behalf of a law professor at North Carolina Central University and two transgender people who work and study at UNC at Chapel Hill.

The plaintiffs said HB 2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment and violates Title IX by discriminating against college students and employees on the basis of sex, among other complaints.

McCrory’s executive order keeps most of HB 2 intact with a few minor changes.

The order expands the state’s employment policy to cover sexual orientation and gender identity and seeks legislation to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination.

Executive Order 93 affirms the private sector’s right to establish its own restroom and locker room policies and nondiscrimination employment policies. HB 2 never prohibited those acts.

In a recorded video message, McCrory alluded to feedback the state has received in response to the passing of HB 2.

Some of that feedback has come in the form of protest. Musician Bruce Springsteen last week canceled a concert in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Deutsche Bank froze a planned job expansion in the state, while organizers for the biannual High Point furniture market anticipated lower turnout among buyers and designers, according to a Washington Post report.

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