@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

HB2 backers, opponents trade charges

Posted April 14, 2016 5:59 p.m. EDT
Updated April 14, 2016 8:09 p.m. EDT

— As the law that sets North Carolina's discrimination policy continues to make national headlines, both supporters and opponents are accusing each other of working with radical outside groups.

The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, commonly known as House Bill 2, requires people to use public bathrooms that correspond to their birth gender, excludes gay and transgender people from protections against employment and public accommodations discrimination and blocks cities and counties from extending such protections to them.

LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign filed a public records request Thursday to determine what role, if any, religious conservative groups played in drafting the law. Meanwhile, supporters of the law say the group is misrepresenting it.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and others who back the legislation have denied that it takes away any protections against discrimination and have focused their arguments on restroom safety. They have repeatedly said a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity – the ordinance was why legislative leaders called a one-day special session of the General Assembly to pass House Bill 2 – provided an opening for sexual predators to go into women's bathrooms.

"It maintains common-sense, gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities," McCrory said in a YouTube video posted Tuesday, when he issued an executive order affirming the bathroom provision of the law.

"This is not a piece of legislation about bathrooms," Chad Griffin, national president of Human Rights Campaign, said Thursday. "The last three weeks have made clear that the governor and supporters of HB2 either didn't read the bill and don't understand the gravity of the law, or they are directly and intentionally lying to the public about what it actually does."

Griffin called the executive order issued Tuesday "a desperate PR stunt" that does nothing to address or mitigate House Bill 2.

"The people of North Carolina deserve better than pandering politicians who target minority groups for their own cynical political gain," Griffin said. "They deserve better than those who use their power to wreak havoc on their state’s economy and its people."

House Bill 2 also eliminates workers' rights to sue for discrimination in state court, but McCrory's executive order asks state lawmakers to repeal that provision. It also extends discrimination protections to LGBT state workers.

McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis questioned why Human Rights Campaign has criticized McCrory's executive order while praising Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, who signed a similar order on Wednesday.

However, the Louisiana order goes farther than McCrory's, requiring LGBT non-discrimination policies for state contractors, which House Bill 2 doesn't allow the state of North Carolina to do. It also rescinds an order signed last year by former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal that prevented the state from denying or revoking tax exemptions and deductions, contracts and other agreements based on a person’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

"The Human Rights Campaign is a shadowy, left-wing group funded by anonymous donors that is recklessly leading the charge to mislead the public and smear North Carolina," Ellis said in a statement.

The Human Rights Campaign is the nation's largest LGBT advocacy group, with a high public and political profile. It's been around for 35 years. Like all nonprofits, it's allowed to keep its donors private.

McCrory hasn't answered questions about House Bill 2 and the growing national backlash against it since early last week. He left a Raleigh event Thursday without speaking to reporters.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger also have declined to appear on camera to address the new law, limiting their comments to statements issued by their offices.