After HB2 ‘Clarification,' Critics Call For Repeal, Supporters Stand Firm

After HB2 ‘Clarification,' Critics Call For Repeal, Supporters Stand Firm

11:24pm Apr 12, 2016
HB2 supporters held a candle light prayer vigil at the governmental plaza in downtown Greensboro on April 12, 2016. Many of them say they support a law that determines which bathroom transgender people use. -- Keri Brown

Gov. Pat McCrory issued Executive Order 93 Tuesday amid growing backlash from businesses and residents. McCrory said the order was meant to improve HB2, the recently-passed law that limits protections for LGBT citizens in North Carolina.

“After listening to people’s feedback for the past several weeks on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina,” McCrory said. “Based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.'"

The governor broadened protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity for some state employees. McCrory is also requesting the legislature repeal the provision that took away the right to sue over discrimination in state court.

But beyond that, little has changed. The law made no alterations to the controversial bathroom law that has sparked national outrage.

“It appears to be an attempt to save some face,” says Rob Schofield, the Director of Research at NC Policy Watch, a liberal watchdog group. “The governor has been calling the criticisms of this law an organized smear campaign and now he says it’s feedback.”

Angela Mazaris, Founder of the LGBTQ Center at Wake Forest University, says the law still leaves some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens open to discrimination, and nothing short of repeal is acceptable.

“I think as people start to read through Executive Order 93 and understand what it does – and more importantly, doesn’t do – they will understand that this is not enough and this conversation is not over,” Mazaris says.

Mazaris points out that HB2 goes far beyond the headline issues, and that McCrory’s order does not address many other issues critics point to in the law, including a ban on cities raising the minimum wage beyond the state’s own minimum of $7.25.

“I think this is a fear-based response on Gov. McCrory’s part based on the overwhelming reaction and backlash he’s seen across the nation.”

Despite the vocal criticism of the law, not all North Carolinians are against it. On Tuesday night, about 180 people gathered in downtown Greensboro to hold a prayer vigil in support of McCrory and HB2.

Michael Barrett attended the event and says the law is all about privacy and safety.

“For me, it’s just common reasoning that a man goes to a man’s bathroom and a woman goes into a woman’s bathroom,” Barrett said. “I have a wife, daughters and grandkids and I certainly always want them protected.”

Greensboro resident Alan Stockard agrees, and hopes the governor will stay strong, despite the calls for HB2’s repeal.

“I think he needs to see support and I’m certainly hoping that there will be businesses that want to increase their business in North Carolina,” Stockard said. “As they say, there’s usually a price to pay for doing what’s right.”

Still, with court challenges looming and corporate pressure continuing to mount, the fate of the law is an open question.

The legislature will have an opportunity to weigh in – if it chooses to do so – in its upcoming short session. Lawmakers will convene in Raleigh April 25.

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