By Zack Ford April 12, 2016 3:09 pm
After several businesses have abandoned plans to expand in North Carolina and countless others have abandoned their travel to the state, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) issued an executive order Tuesday that addresses various aspects of HB 2, the anti-LGBT law that the state legislature forced through in a single day.
The second point of the order does nothing except reiterate what is already true about the law. It “affirms the private sector’s right to establish its own restroom and locker room policies.” HB2 did not ban private businesses from establishing LGBT protections, but that doesn’t mean businesseslike PayPal want to operate in a state where their employees still experience discrimination in schools and government buildings.
The third point states that cities and counties may establish nondiscrimination protections for their own employees. This sounds promising, but would actually make little difference. This seems to refer not to all employees who live in a city, but only the employees of a city. For example, Charlotte could pass an ordinance promising not to discriminate against its transgender employees, but then all of those employees would still have to work in government buildings in which they are not allowed to use the restroom that matches their gender identity. It would be symbolic equality, but no actual change.
The same is true for McCrory’s fourth point, which extends protections for LGBT employees of the state. In other states, this kind of executive order would be celebrated, as it was last week in Pennsylvania. However, all North Carolina state transgender employees will still continue to work in government buildings where they are prohibited from using the correct bathrooms. Thus, the symbolic embrace of protections still functions in a reality defined by discrimination.
The last point of McCrory’s ordinance calls for legislation to fix one piece of HB2, the ban on state discrimination lawsuits. This will be an important fix to help workers across the state to find justice if they experience workplace discrimination, such as one Charlotte bank vice president who claims he was fired because of his age. But the state still offers no statewide protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, so even if lawmakers came back to fix this one aspect of HB2, it still would not do anything to advance the LGBT community.
“Now I know these actions will not totally satisfy everyone,” McCrory said in his announcement. He probably isn’t wrong about that.