North Carolina Governor Promises More Protections For LGBTQ+ Community In Executive Order

North Carolina's political atmosphere has been a tumultuous one of late: following a nail-bitingly tense gubernatorial election between incumbent Republican candidate Pat McCrory and Democratic nominee Roy Cooper, elected candidate Gov. Roy Cooper was tasked with signing the repeal to the controversial HB2 bill, HB142. House Bill 2 was rolled out in 2016, and is most often referred to as "the bathroom bill," due to its exclusionary policies towards trans people using the bathroom of the gender they identify as. This bill significantly walked back discrimination protections in the workplace, most notably impacting the rights of LGBTQ+ workers, disabled workers, and working people of color. The bill drew tremendous amounts of criticism, and led to the NCAA threatening to shut out North Carolina from hosting NCAA championship events for the next 6 years (unless the repeal was signed by the end of February).

To counteract the negative outcry and subsequent economic losses felt due to the HB2 backlash, House Bill 142 was made law on March 30th, 2017. However, critics of the bill felt that HB142 was less of a repeal, and more of a compromise for supporters of HB2. As Mark Joseph Stern of Slate explains, 

"To understand why HB 142, is so awful, consider what HB2 itself actually did. The legislature pushed through HB2 in response to a Charlotte ordinance that prohibited LGBTQ discrimination in the city. HB2 nullified this ordinance, and any other municipal law that provided greater protections than state law. Since state law doesn’t protect LGBTQ people, HB2 nullified all local LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinances. More controversially, it also regulated the use of government bathrooms, including those in public schools and universities. Under HB2, individuals had to use the bathroom that corresponded to their “biological sex,” as listed on their birth certificate. In many states, it is difficult or impossible for trans people to alter their birth certificate. So this provision effectively bars countless trans people from using government bathrooms.

HB 142 would repeal HB2 in its entirety—and replace it with something just as odious. The bill forbids “state agencies, boards, offices, departments, institutions,” and “branches of government,” including public universities, from regulating “access to multiple occupancy restrooms, showers, or changing facilities.” It applies this same rule to “local boards of education,” meaning these boards cannot pass trans-inclusive policies. Instead, local governments, public universities, and school boards would have to wait for permission from the General Assembly to protect trans people. Of course, the heavily gerrymandered, vehemently anti-trans, Republican-dominated legislature will almost certainly never grant this permission.

That’s not the end of it. HB 142 would also impose a years-long moratorium on local LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinances. The bill would bar any city from “regulating private employment practices or regulating public accommodations” until December 1, 2020. There is nothing to stop the General Assembly from extending this moratorium as its expiration date draws closer."

Now, Gov. Roy Cooper has stated that he intends to issue an executive order that enhances the state's protections for LGBTQ+ people. During a conference in Washington, D.C. for the Center for American Progress, Cooper made the announcement, although there was no mention of when this executive order would be made effective. 

You can read more about Gov. Roy Cooper's comments on the impending LGBTQ+-focused executive order on North Carolina's The News & Observer.