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North Carolina Governor amends controversial HB2 with Executive Order

FILE- In this Feb. 20, 2016, file photo, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks with reporters following the opening session of the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington. McCrory and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper are tapping into emotions about a new North Carolina law getting national attention to raise money in their high-stakes gubernatorial race this fall. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has signed an Executive order designed to change the controversial bill known as HB2.

HB2 has faced wide criticism since it was passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor in a single day, as companies like Deutsche Bank and celebrities like Bruce Springsteen react to the legislation by shying away from dealings with North Carolina.

As Deutsche Bank explained in their announcement on the measure, HB2 invalidates "existing protections of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fellow citizens in some municipalities and prevents municipalities from adopting such protections in the future."

As The Charlotte Observer explains, the measure was a reaction to action taken by the Charlotte City Council.

"In a one-day specially convened session Wednesday, North Carolina's legislature passed a sweeping law that reverses a Charlotte ordinance that had extended some rights to people who are gay or transgender," The Charlotte Observer explained.

"The law passed by the General Assembly and signed that same night by Gov. Pat McCrory goes further than a narrow elimination of Charlotte's ordinance."

Opposed to being a simple response to the Charlotte ordinance, HB2 delves further into larger issues of discrimination.

"I don't know that there would have been that much reaction if the Charlotte ordinance was voided," but the other elements of the HB2 were not included, said Pope "Mac" McCorkle, Associate Professor at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy.

In the wake of this larger decisions included in HB2 "you're finding a lot of corporations are speaking up because there's this general consensus [that] nobody knows what they're doing with this legislation," McCorkle explained.

"That's just bad for business."

Citing the recent responses to HB2, The Washington Post reported that McCrory was "responding to a backlash against the state's new law banning anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people," with this executive order.

"McCrory said in a videotaped message announcing the order that among other things, it partially drops the provision that people must use bathrooms matching the gender on their birth certificate," The Washington Post's Mark Berman reported.

"While this remains the policy in schools and government buildings, businesses can decide their 'own policy with regard to restrooms, locker rooms and/or shower facilities,'" Berman quoted McCrory saying.

A release by the Governor's Office reveals that in addition to affirming the private sector's right to establish its own restroom and locker room policies the executive order:

- Affirms the private sector and local governments' right to establish non-discrimination employment policies for its own employees

- Expands the state's employment policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity

- Seeks legislation to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination

"With this Executive Order, the State of North Carolina is now one of 24 states that have protections for sexual orientation and gender identity for its employees," the statement from the Governor's office reads.

Quoted in the statement, McCrory says that he came 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," after listening to feedback on the issue.

"Based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state's commitment to privacy and equality."

Comparing the governor's executive order to a "mulligan in golf," McCorkle said the executive order "reflects that he's in panic."

Having examined the executive order, McCorkle suggested "that should've been [McCrory's] veto message," when originally presented with HB2.

McCorkle, who spoke to Sinclair both before and after the executive order was published had suggested that when originally faced with HB2, McCrory could have easily expressed his support for the voiding of Charlotte's ordnance, but called for greater discussion on "all these other legislative issues," during the legislature's upcoming "short session," on April 25th.

Even non-liberals, McCorkle said say that is how the Governor should have handled the situation.

"The Governor is supposed to come in and say 'whoa, let's rethink this,' instead he just threw fuel on the fire," when he originally signed the bill, McCorkle said.

"I think people didn't expect that from Pat McCrory."

"It's obvious he wants a do-over here," McCorkle said describing how the Governor has built a brand that touts an ability to bring jobs to the state and move North Carolina forward.

Explaining how progress and jobs were McCrory's message, McCorkle said "reality was getting in the way."

"The main thing he threw in there," McCorkle said, describing the executive order, is that McCrory is going to seek legislation that would allow the right to sue in state court for discrimination.

"That's going to create a fight in the legislature," McCorkle explained adding that even after this attempted "fix," from McCrory the battle over discrimination legislation in North Carolina is far from over.



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