Republicans in North Carolina rallied in late March to overthrow a city ordinance forcing businesses in Charlotte to allow transgender customers to use the restroom of their choice—but the fight has just begun. In the days since lawmakers flushed the ordinance, opponents within the state and from across the country have launched a flood of attacks.
“Some have called our state an embarrassment,” said Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican. “The real embarrassment is politicians not publicly respecting each other’s positions on complex issues.”
McCrory spoke out after fellow governors began issuing travel bans to North Carolina because they disagree with the state’s actions. But that might be the least of McCrory’s troubles.
On March 28, two transgender men, a lesbian, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina, and Equality North Carolina filed a federal suit against McCrory and other state officials. The suit claims North Carolina violated federal anti-discrimination laws. And yesterday, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced he won’t defend the state in court.
Cooper, McCrory’s Democratic challenger in this year’s gubernatorial election, is using the controversy to bolster his campaign. He claims McCrory has legislated discrimination, which he calls a national embarrassment. Cooper’s opposition highlights the tension within the state that could permeate discourse during the ensuing months of court battles, right up to Election Day.
McCrory called Cooper’s announcement a violation of his duties as attorney general, a post Cooper has held since 2001.
“As the state’s attorney, he can’t select which laws he will defend and which laws are politically expedient to refuse to defend,” McCrory said. “When you are the state’s lawyer, you are a lawyer first and a politician second.”
Other North Carolina Republicans share McCrory’s position.
“Roy Cooper’s refusal to defend the law makes clear he wants the ACLU to win,” said North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger in a statement. “His zeal for pandering for the extreme left’s money and agenda in his race for governor is making it impossible for him to fulfill his duties as attorney general—and he should resign immediately.”
But Democrats from outside the state are rushing to Cooper’s side and joining in an effort to demonize North Carolina for not accommodating homosexuals and transgender individuals.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned all non-essential state travel to North Carolina on Monday. The order requires New York state agencies to review all requests for state-funded or sponsored travel to North Carolina. And it bars any publicly funded travel that is not essential to law enforcement or public health and safety.
“In New York, we believe that all people—regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation—deserve the same rights and protections under the law,” Cuomo said. “We will not stand idly by as misguided legislation replicates the discrimination of the past.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, also a Democrat, issued a memo yesterday to join Cuomo and the mayors of Seattle and San Francisco in banning non-essential travel to North Carolina. Inslee said McCroy’s actions revoke “civil rights protections” for the LGBT community and the travel ban supports “our state’s approach to tolerance, fairness, and a lack of discrimination.”
Cuomo made a similar move in 2015, banning travel to Indiana after its governor signed a bill to protect the religious freedoms of the state’s business owners.
McCrory called Cuomo’s actions hypocritical because he did not prohibit travel to Texas last year when Houston voters overturned a measure similar to Charlotte’s.
“Syracuse is playing in the Final Four [this weekend] in Houston where voters overwhelmingly rejected a nearly identical bathroom ordinance,” said Josh Ellis, McCrory’s communications director. “Is Gov. Cuomo going to ask the Syracuse team to boycott the game in Houston? It’s total hypocrisy and demagoguery if the governor does not.”
Coutesy: WORLD News Service
Publication date: April 4, 2016