Commentary

McCrory’s hometown paper issues blistering review of “Wizard of Oz” HB2 executive order

The reviews of Governor Pat McCrory’s executive order regarding House Bill 2 are coming in and they’re not pretty. Across the state and the nation, legal experts, commentators and major media outlets are rejecting the Governor’s efforts to “soften” the discrimination law as much too little and too late. As Mark Joseph Stern of Slate notes, even the small segment of the order that purports to expand LGBT protections for state employees makes no sense:

“The order does have one important provision: It “[e]xpands the state’s employment policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity,” meaning the state government cannot discriminate against LGBT workers. But how can that be when a state law still forbids trans state employees from using the public bathroom that aligns with their gender identity? After today, one North Carolina law (the executive order) prohibits discrimination against trans government employees—and one law (HB2) mandates it. McCrory has only added an extra layer of confusion to an already baffling situation, creating an internal conflict within state regulations that already conflict with federal law.”

But the most powerful takedown of the Governor’s order has to be the one in this morning’s Charlotte Observer — his hometown newspaper that endorsed him for election in 2012:

“Hammered for weeks over his signing of House Bill 2, Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday attempted to undo the damage. He failed.

McCrory’s Executive Order 93 and his trumpeting of it had all the bluster of the Wizard of Oz’s fiery head and imposing voice. But North Carolinians should pay attention to the man behind the curtain. McCrory is frantically pulling levers and pushing buttons, but this is still a state government without a brain, or a heart or courage.

McCrory said that, with his order, he was ‘taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.’ A close reading, though, reveals mostly empty language that leaves every element of House Bill 2 in place.

Hammered for weeks over his signing of House Bill 2, Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday attempted to undo the damage. He failed.

McCrory’s Executive Order 93 and his trumpeting of it had all the bluster of the Wizard of Oz’s fiery head and imposing voice. But North Carolinians should pay attention to the man behind the curtain. McCrory is frantically pulling levers and pushing buttons, but this is still a state government without a brain, or a heart or courage.

McCrory said that, with his order, he was “taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.” A close reading, though, reveals mostly empty language that leaves every element of House Bill 2 in place.

Businesses can still discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Cities are still banned from passing non-discrimination ordinances governing their communities. Employees who are fired because of their race or age or other protected classes still can’t file a state claim. And transgender people still must use the bathroom of the opposite gender from how they look and what they consider themselves to be.

There are only two provisions that even tiptoe toward important policy change. McCrory encourages the legislature to reinstate employees’ ability to file a state claim for employment discrimination. But that’s up to legislators, and in a statement reacting to the order, Senate leader Phil Berger gave no indication of whether he supports such a change.

McCrory does, importantly, add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes for state employees. His office says that applies to all state employees except teachers and the General Assembly. Some scholars, though, believe it would apply only to employees over whom the governor has authority, meaning his cabinet agencies.

Much of the rest of McCrory’s order simply restates what House Bill 2 already says.

The bottom line: LGBT individuals in Charlotte still don’t have the protections against discrimination that HB 2 took away. In the rest of the state, they have no more protection against discrimination today than they did before McCrory’s order, unless they work in state government. And transgender people are still specifically singled out for discriminatory treatment.

Despite that, some folks who should know better cheered. The Charlotte Chamber’s Executive Committee, hopeful that business recruitment will get back on track, said “We applaud the governor’s actions today which demonstrate that North Carolina is an open and welcoming state.”

No, the governor’s actions don’t demonstrate that. They demonstrate the opposite – that North Carolina is not a welcoming state – and that McCrory is flailing in the heat of an election year. The legislature dumped a bad bill on McCrory’s desk. He signed it and is now looking for a way out. State employee protections are worth something, but bold leadership requires more.

The Wizard spoke Tuesday but it was all smoke. Too bad we can’t just click our heels and go back home to the North Carolina we used to know.”

2 Comments


  1. Phillip

    April 13, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    I think he started down the right path with trying to change some of the bad parts of the law. I have one question for the people in Charlotte. What protection would your ordnance have to protect my Daughter from someone just saying I feel like a female today so I’ll go in the girls locker room. I don’t worry about transgender people using whichever bathroom they like. I do worry about a teenage boy in the locker room with my daughter. Young girls already have enough problems with self image without having to worry about guys in the locker room/bathroom. There usually are separate shower stalls but the changing areas are common. So what protection do you offer to keep a Heterosexual teenage boy out. This is the fear of a lot of us dads have when comes down to it.

  2. Alan

    April 13, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Shouldn’t that have read “The Grand Wizard of Oz”

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