It’s been three months since Gov. Roy Cooper announced he would issue an executive order to expand lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender protections in the state.
The governor’s office is continuing to work on the order and seek input, said Cooper Communications Director Ford Porter last week. He did not respond to questions about specifics of the order or a timeline.
Several sources close to the process confirm that the governor does intend to make the order but has been waiting for the right moment. It will likely come after this month’s special sessions of the General Assembly and its political struggles over legislative redistricting, several sources said on the condition of anonymity.
The governor’s power to expand protections is limited. The order would likely only apply to departments he controls directly.
Cooper’s gubernatorial predecessor, Pat McCrory, issued an executive order in April of last year expanding sexual orientation and gender identity protections to state employees. That order, however, did not change or challenge the controversial restroom provisions of HB2, which prevented those using restrooms and changing rooms in government buildings from choosing the facility that fits their gender identity.
Cooper faced heavy criticism for signing House Bill 142 into law – a move that kept some of HB2’s most controversial provisions in place after it was technically repealed.
“I really think based on conversations I’ve had with the governor that he has an understanding that he is limited in what he can do for LGBT people based on the General Assembly’s action on HB142,” said Matt Hirshy, interim executive director for LGBT advocacy group Equality North Carolina.
“I believe in his heart of hearts that it’s something he wants to do and something we will see in the coming days,” Hirshy said of an executive order.
“Equality NC’s position is that in every type of public policy, not just executive orders, we’re looking for protections to the full ability of the law given the constraints put in place by the General Assembly.”