North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory issued an executive order on Tuesday that attempts to quell the backlash to an anti-LGBT law he enacted last month, saying the order "clarifies existing state law" while increasing privacy and equality.
The order, however, does not change elements of the statute that have been criticized by LGBT advocates and other opponents of the law. The order maintains a ban on transgender people using restrooms that match their gender in government buildings and schools. It also does not withdraw a ban on cities enacting nondiscrimination ordinances that protect LGBT people.
Rather, the order reaffirms that private businesses can establish their own rules for restrooms and locker rooms.
It also purports to expand the state's employment policy by saying state agencies may not engage in "unlawful discrimination" in employment practices on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency, already holds that employers may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Furthermore, the EEOC's gender-identity interpretation — which the Obama administration has backed up — would maintain that the restroom restrictions that remain in place for transgender employees under the North Carolina law are a type of unlawful discrimination.
"I know these actions will not totally satisfy everyone, but the vast majority of our citizens want commonsense solutions to complex issues," McCrory said in a video statement.
McCrory has repeatedly suggested that transgender women must be banned from women's restrooms because they would prey on women and girls — a scenario never documented in the 17 states and 225 cities that currently ban transgender discrimination.
Chase Strangio, a lawyer for the ACLU, told BuzzFeed News in a statement, "This order in no way changes the many and serious harms of House Bill 2."
"Perhaps most concerning," Strangio said, "it reiterates the anti-trans components of the law. It is nothing short of a political ploy to manage the backlash while still harming the most vulnerable members of the community and leaving the entire LGBT community without comprehensive legal protections."
Numerous businesses have protested the North Carolina law, and the state was sued in federal court.
In his order Tuesday, Gov. McCrory also encouraged state legislators to amend the law so that discrimination lawsuits could be filed in state court if someone believes they are wrongly fired.
Gov. McCrory issued a video statement saying the debate around the law had created "a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion, and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy."
Here's McCrory's video statement on the order.
“It’s obvious that Gov. McCrory is trying to save his reputation with this desperate move," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "The order does nothing to change the government-mandated discrimination against all trans people in public buildings across the state."
"If Gov. McCrory thinks anyone is going to fall for this, he has completely underestimated North Carolinians – and the rest of the nation," said Keisling.
Here is the full executive order.
Dominic Holden is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Dominic Holden at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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