Written by: Josh Jackman
North Carolina’s governor has promised to expand LGBT protections – less than two months after his “fake repeal” of HB2.
In March, Roy Cooper signed HB142 to get rid of HB2 – which forced people to use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth – but put other discriminatory measures in its place.
Regulation of multi-occupancy toilets was left up to the state, while local authorities won’t be able to pass anti-LGBT-discrimination laws until December 2020.
Texas is following North Carolina’s lead, with the state’s governor saying yesterday that passing a bill to stop transgender people using public bathrooms is his top priority.
Cooper admitted the new law was “not a perfect deal,” but Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin rejected this interpretation.
Instead, Griffin called it “simply another version of HB2 dressed up in a way desperate lawmakers hope will save state’s economy.”
Speaking yesterday at a Centre for American Progress conference in Washington DC, the governor pledged to issue an executive order to help the LGBT community.
Cooper, who took office in January, told attendees of the liberal think tank: “I said when we repealed HB2 and initiated the compromise, we needed to take additional steps to make sure we protect LGBT residents.
“We’re working on an executive order that will help further those goals,” he said, North Carolina publication the News & Observer has reported.
Cooper did not elaborate on the content of the order, but vowed to take “comprehensive” action which “helps with LGBT protections.”
He also defended himself against accusations of a “fake repeal” which GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis said “doubles down on discrimination and leaves LGBTQ unprotected”.
Cooper told the audience: “My goal is statewide LGBT protections in North Carolina, and I’m going to keep fighting every day until I get to that point.
“It would have been politically and probably emotionally easier for me to keep pounding the table and not accept a compromise but I knew it wasn’t right for my state.
“I knew it wasn’t right for LGBT citizens in my state.”
LGBT activists were not ready to forgive Cooper.
Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, tweeted that “Roy Cooper’s continued refusal to take responsibility for negative consequences on LGBT community of bill he signed is disheartening”.
The Human Rights Campaign said the announcement was “strange coming from the person who betrayed the LGBTQ community by signing the discriminatory HB142 into law”.
A senior vice-president at HRC, Olivia Alair Dalton, who used to be Michelle Obama’s press secretary, said it was “quite an extraordinary thing for Roy Cooper to say, given that he signed a bill banning such protections for the duration of his tenure”.
ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio said: “Cooper represents the absolute worst of politics.
“You can’t have your cake and eat it too, dude. Never will you have our support/trust.”
An Associated Press investigation showed the state was set to lose more than $3.76 billionover the next 12 years because of HB2. It is not clear whether the new law will have a similar effect.