Raleigh, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s governor called for more dialogue on the issue of transgender people and bathroom use while saying he stands by provisions of a bill regarding access to facilities.
Gov. Pat McCrory appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to talk about the bill, which he signed into law last month. He has since issued an executive order expanding protections for many state workers based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“But I will tell you what I have learned through this is we’ve got to have more dialogue, not threats,” McCrory told the show’s host, Chuck Todd.
When Todd raised the issue of politicians using similar arguments against LGBT equality to oppose the Civil Rights Act, McCrory said the issue of such rights only came up recently since voters in Houston in November rejected an ordinance that would have established nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people.
McCrory said that “what we’ve got to do is deal with this extremely new social norm that has come to our nation in a very quick period and have these discussions about the complexity of equality while also balancing the concept of privacy in the most private areas of our life, which is a restroom, locker room or shower facility in our high schools.”
McCrory reiterated that he will ask legislators to repeal a part of the law that bans workers from filing discrimination claims in state court. Even when he signed the bill into law, he disagreed with that provision, he said. That part of the law “was very poorly thought out,” he said.
The executive director of Equality NC, Chris Sgro, said Sunday that with those words, McCrory acknowledged signing a bad bill.
“He needs to not take a piecemeal approach to this,” Sgro said. “He needs to provide leadership for the full repeal. “
Equality North Carolina, the American Civil Liberties Union and three LGBT citizens have sued in federal court to overturn the entire law. North Carolina’s measure is among several advanced across the country that opponents say is discriminatory toward gay, bisexual and transgender people.
McCrory’s executive order affirmed parts of the law directing people at government buildings and schools to use the multi-stall bathrooms corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate. And the law still prevents local governments and the state from mandating businesses extend protections to LGBT workers or customers.
The state law still excludes gender identity and sexual orientation as classes explicitly protected from employment and public accommodation. That means people still would not be able to sue in state court over employment discrimination based on those factors, even if lawmakers make the change McCrory is seeking, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union has said.
A Charlotte ordinance approved in February that would have allowed transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity in public accommodations caused the Republican-controlled General Assembly to hold a special session March 23. Legislators overturned the ordinance and blocked all other cities and counties from passing similar rules against discrimination.
The president of the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement Sunday that McCrory is ignoring business opposition to the law.
“Pat McCrory can’t have it both ways and say he doesn’t want the government to tell the private sector what to do while he also sticks his head in the sand and ignores more than 160 businesses who have clearly said they want H.B. 2 repealed,” President Chad Griffin said.