According to a press release from the governor’s office, the goal of the executive order was to maintain gender-specific bathroom restrictions, affirm private sector rights to determine their own bathroom and locker room policies, as well as private sector and local government rights to nondiscrimination policies, and seek legislation to reinstate the right to sue for discrimination in state court.
“After listening to people’s feedback for the past several weeks on this issue, I have come 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,” he said in the statement.
House Bill 2 has sparked national condemnation in the last two weeks for what some see as state oppression of transgender individuals.
On Tuesday, Deutsche Bank halted expansion plans in the state and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed the departments of Justice and Education were reviewing whether North Carolina would lose its $4.5 billion federal education funding.
UNC law professor Maxine Eichner said while the executive order is mostly ineffectual, it offers two changes to the status quo — discrimination protections for LGBT state employees and bathroom accommodations for transgender people.
Under House Bill 2, cabinet agencies could offer bathroom accommodations to transgender employees, she said. McCrory’s executive order emphasizes they should offer these accommodations when practical.
“He just doesn’t have much power in this regard,” she said. “The main power he had as governor was to veto HB2, then he could have done away with all these provisions.”
While the executive order was intended to mollify protestors and businesses, reactions have not been positive.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is running for governorship against McCrory in November, said in a statement he appreciated the gesture, but the damage of House Bill 2 was already done.
“Governor Pat McCrory’s executive order is a day late and a veto short,” he said.
And Chapel Hill Town Council member Michael Parker said the executive order does not change the law.
“There’s a lot less there than (McCrory) wants you to believe,” he said. “All the noxious provisions of House Bill 2 are still in place — the executive order is nothing but a restatement.”
Parker said it’s McCrory playing politics — because most people won’t read the order itself, the governor used the press release to suggest it made more changes.
“The governor is putting lipstick on a pig, and it’s a pretty damn ugly pig too,” he said.