War of Words Escalates Between N.C. Gov. and Attorney General


Even after signing what is viewed as one of the most homophobic and transphobic pieces of legislation in years, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says politicians (other than him) are "exploiting differences and dividing people."

As much of the nation is now aware, the North Carolina legislature on March 23 introduced and passed House Bill 2 in a single, day-long special session, followed swiftly by McCrory's signature that evening. The bill was a response to a nondiscrimination ordinance passed in Charlotte, which among many things, allowed transgender people use of restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. The ordinance was painted as a "bathroom bill" by opponents peddling the patently false claim that equal access for trans people would allow "men" to attack women in public facilities. HB 2 rescinded Charlotte's ordinance, bans all future LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances in the state, and requires transgender people to use public facilities that don't match their gender identity.

Even with an outcry that stretched from the business world to presidential candidates, McCrory remain unbowed. He said opposition to HB 2 is "political correctness run amok." 

Things got worse for McCrory when his own attorney general, Democrat Roy Cooper — who is running against him in this year's gubernatorial election — said he would not defend HB 2 in the federal suit recently filed against it.

McCrory released a video on Tuesday, railing against critics of HB 2. He said politicians have used the legislation to launch a "vicious, nationwide smear campaign" that "demonized" the state. In the five-minute video, McCrory claims:

"Disregarding the facts, other politicians from the White House to mayors and city councilmembers and, yes, even our attorney general, have initiated and promoted conflict to advance their political agenda, even if it means defying the Constitution and the oath of office. ... Now, I'm standing up to the attorney general of North Carolina, who today refused to fulfill his oath of office to defend the people of North Carolina in a lawsuit filed over the privacy of our restrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities."

Part of the reason Cooper said he refused to defend HB 2 was because it conflicts with nondiscrimination protections for state workers, including those who work for him in the state's Department of Justice. McCrory said this wasn't true, and that the state-level protections remain intact. "[Cooper] is inventing conflict that simply does not exist," McCrory said in the video.

Cooper shot back at the video, saying it's McCrory who is lying. 

"It is unfortunate that Gov. McCrory has decided to mislead North Carolinians about the facts of this law," a Cooper spokesperson told the Washington Blade. "His new law clearly strikes down protections that existed for employees of state agencies, universities, and local government across the state. Instead of misleading North Carolinians, he should do his job, focus on repealing this law, and reverse the damage being done to our economy."

At the end of the video, McCrory admits HB 2 isn't perfect, but says he was forced to sign it, "because if I didn't on April 1 of this year the expectation of privacy of North Carolina citizens would be violated." McCrory did express interest in revising the bill saying he's "open to new ideas" to "work on solutions that will make this bill better in the future."