Washington — Goy. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that he plans to issue an executive order to extend protections to gay and transgender people in North Carolina.
Speaking at a conference sponsored by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington, Cooper told the audience that he needed to compromise on the repeal of House Bill 2 to move the issue forward but that he's determined to continue fighting for LGBT rights.
"I had a choice: Do I continue to make a statement and pound on table and nothing happen, or take a positive step and make progress and continue to fight?" he said.
State lawmakers agreed in late March to repeal House Bill 2, the year-old law that limited LGBT rights and transgender access to public bathrooms.
But LGBT advocates criticized the repeal legislation, which prohibits North Carolina cities and counties from adopting nondiscrimination ordinances until late 2020.
"Although I’ve had hard conversations with a number of my friends about this who would have rather us go two years with House Bill 2 instead of taking the compromise, as governor and as leader of my state, knowing what it has done to the reputation of my state and the signal it sends to LGBT citizens and everyone I knew, we had to make a step, and that’s why I did it," Cooper said. "Diversity is our strength. North Carolina is a welcoming state, and we just have to make sure our laws catch up with our people, and we’re going to get there."
Cooper spokeswoman Sadie Weiner couldn't provide more details on the planned executive order or when it would be signed.
Shortly after House Bill 2 was enacted last year, then-Gov. Pat McCrory signed an executive order extending sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination protections to state workers while reaffirming the bathroom restrictions included in the controversial law.