Activist groups, businesses, and politicians alike have been hammering North Carolina after the state passed its so-called bathroom bill, which prevents local governments from passing their own anti-discrimination measures.
As Gov. Pat McCrory explains it, the legislation was crafted after the “Charlotte city council passed a new mandate that forced on businesses a citywide ordnance of bathroom and locker room regulations.” He said it was a case of government overreach—“a solution in search of a problem”—and pointed out that the same proposal was actually rejected by the Charlotte city council less than a year ago.
Opposition to the new law was swift and fierce. Aside from more symbolic gestures expressing disapproval—like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banning state travel to North Carolina or Bruce Springsteen canceling his concert in the state—the blowback was beginning to have an economic impact as well. PayPal canceled its plans to open a global operation center there, costing the state 400 jobs, while Deutsche Bank announced Tuesday that they too wouldn’t expand their operations in the state—another 250 jobs in the hole.
Thus, McCrory was forced to do something.
“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,” McCrory said in a statement. “Based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.”
On Tuesday he signed an executive order that accomplishes the following:
- The private sector can make its own policy with regard to restroom, locker room, and shower facilities.
- The private sector and local governments have a right to establish their own non-discrimination employment policies.
- The state’s employment policy has been expanded to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Legislation will be sought to reinstate the right to sue for discrimination in North Carolina state courts.
The part of the law that requires people in public facilities and schools to use the restroom or locker room that corresponds to their biological gender is still in place.
“Simply put, I’ve listened to the people of North Carolina and the people of North Carolina are entitled to both privacy and equality,” McCrory said. “We can and we must achieve both of these goals.”