The competition for Phobie of the Year was devilish in 2016, but one man out-hated all the rest. Pat McCrory, the outgoing governor of North Carolina, even outdid Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
At least in Indiana, where Pence was governor, he backed down when business representing millions of dollars threatened to leave the state over its Religious Freedom Restoration Act — also known as a “license to discriminate.” Pence signed a fix to the law so discriminating against LGBT people wasn’t allowed under the RFRA's protections. In North Carolina, though, even as jobs left the state and performers canceled concerts and millions piled up in lost revenue, McCrory and Republicans refused to rethink what they passed in House Bill 2.
Lawmakers hadn’t approved a RFRA exactly. Instead, they passed a law banning any locality from including LGBT people in antidiscrimination ordinances. In other words, they wanted to ensure that discrimination against LGBT people remains legal no matter where you go in North Carolina. They also barred transgender people from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity in any government building, without citing a single incident caused in North Carolina by letting transgender people use the bathroom of their choice.
McCrory owns responsibility for the law, having called a special session to pass it. But he also sued the Obama administration to make the case that there’s no legal basis for protecting transgender people.
Republicans sided heavily with McCrory, who was just so sure he’d win by demagoguing transgender people that he went on Meet the Press to make the case nationally. The state GOP senatorial committee launched a Stand With McCrory website that was basically a fan site for HB 2. McCrory actually ran a campaign ad touting his transphobia as a major selling point. He invented a story about how liberals supposedly want boys to shower with girls in a TV commercial ironically titled “Common Sense.” He even had transphobic bumper stickers printed up.
“You know, when we were raising average teacher pay, creating new jobs, and cutting taxes, other folks were actually pushing to make our schools allow boys to use the girls' locker rooms and showers,” said McCrory. “Are we really talking about this? Does the desire to be politically correct outweigh our children's privacy and safety? Not on my watch.”
And with that, North Carolinians voted him out of office.
Even then, McCrory refused to go. He demanded recounts and signed last-minute legislation to thwart his successor, a Democrat who opposed HB 2. McCrory eventually had to face the reality that he lost. McCrory is so terrible, though, he just might get a new job in the Trump administration, according to reports.