RALEIGH (WTVD) --Governor Pat McCrory's announcement Tuesday that he will ask the General Assembly to reinstate people's right to sue in state court for discrimination - undoing a portion of the controversial House Bill 2 law drew swift and varied reaction from businesses, organizations and people on both sides of the controversy.
Reaction continued to pour in Wednesday from detractors and supporters.
On Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called McCrory's executive order a face-saving effort intended to stem the onslaught of criticism from the business community against the enactment of HB2.
"Let's be clear, the executive order does nothing to roll back House Bill 2's mandatory discrimination against transgender individuals in use of restrooms, and local government remains prohibited from giving legal protections to LGBT individuals," said Tami Cohen, ADL's Washington, D.C. assistant regional director. "Rather than making cosmetic adjustments, we stand with the people of North Carolina in calling for the Governor and North Carolina's legislature to repeal House Bill 2 and enact comprehensive, state-wide anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community."
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, defended HB2 and criticized the city of Charlotte, the attorney general and other organizations voicing opposition to the new law.
"The overreach and extremism of the Charlotte City Council, Roy Cooper, the ACLU, Equality NC, and the Human Rights Campaign is on full display, as they continue to oppose the common sense law signed by Governor McCrory, and now his Executive Order underscoring the protections in that law," Fitzgerald said. "These opponents of privacy and freedom will stop at nothing - until young girls are forced to shower, undress, and use the restrooms with grown men and North Carolinians are criminalized simply for peacefully living and working according to their core convictions."
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Fitzgerald also said the group approved of the governor's proposed modifications to HB2.
"While we believe the Governor went too far in adopting policies that threaten the First Amendment freedoms of state employees, we urge the Governor and Legislative leaders to continue to stand strong on HB 2 against the vicious lies that are being told about it by these extremists," she said, "maintaining privacy and safety for women and girls, and ensuring that freedom flourishes and the rule of law isn't used to punish or silence citizens and private businesses who seek to live and work according to their beliefs."
Rick Glazier, executive director of the North Carolina Justice Center, said McCrory's executive order fails to fix most of the concerns.
"Although we welcome the Governor's desire to reinstate the right to sue for discrimination, private employees can still legally be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity without a remedy in state court, even if Section 3.2 of HB2 is repealed," Glazier said. "And while Gov. McCrory's statement on equal employment opportunity for state employees is similarly a positive step forward, it is unclear that it actually changes any legal protections available to state employees."
On Tuesday, the Durham Bulls baseball team released an official statement against HB2.
"HB2 is unnecessary, ill-conceived and furthers discrimination. We encourage the full repeal of HB2. The Durham Bulls are proud to be part of this diverse, inclusive community."
NC Democratic House Leader Larry Hall said McCrory's move is essentially an admission that the controversial law is having an economic impact on the state.
"Governor McCrory is now willing to admit the economic toll HB 2 is taking on North Carolina," Hall said. "In the weeks since the Governor signed this new statewide discrimination policy, our state's reputation has suffered very real damage. This cannot be undone with half measures and political spin. It requires meaningful action. He owes our state nothing short of a full repeal of HB 2 in the opening week of legislative session."
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But NC Speaker of the House Tim Moore, a Republican, had a different take.
"Governor McCrory's Executive Order affirms the importance of the actions the General Assembly took in passing the Bathroom Bill to protect North Carolina citizens from extremists' efforts to undermine civility and normalcy in our everyday lives," Moore said. "Private businesses are free to decide for themselves restroom, dressing room and non-discrimination employment policies that best suit their business and employee needs without inconsistent mandates by cities and counties."
Moore went on to say, "North Carolina is a proud state and it is very unfortunate that the Bathroom Bill and the General Assembly's actions have been unfairly reported and maligned by political activists. We remain confident that a factual analysis of what the Bathroom Bill does and does not do will reinforce that North Carolina is a great state in which to live and do business."
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Patsy Keever, chairwoman of the NC Democratic Party, said "with his actions today, Governor McCrory acknowledged for the first time the full scope and consequences of his discriminatory law. For two weeks, he's attempted to mislead about the effects of HB2 with long, incorrect memos and Internet videos. But today's Executive Order does nothing to fix what's really wrong with his job-killing law: legalized discrimination that will continue to cost the state of North Carolina jobs and respect."
Dallas Woodhouse, NC GOP executive director, said McCrory's actions Tuesday leave Attorney General Roy Cooper no excuse for not doing his job.
"Roy Cooper refused to do his job and defend the state of North Carolina by saying it would conflict with his obligation to defend his office's non-discrimination policy," Woodhouse said. "Now that Governor McCrory has signed an executive order expanding and affirming non-discrimination policies for North Carolina state employees, the attorney general now has two choices: come up with another excuse to not do his job, or stand up for North Carolina families and defend a common-sense law."
Cooper, who is running against McCrory for governor, issued a statement saying McCrory's "executive order is a day late and a veto short. The sweeping discrimination law he signed has already cost North Carolina hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue."
Cooper went on to say he's "glad Governor McCrory has finally acknowledged the great damage his legislation has done, but he needs to do much more. The truth is, this executive order doesn't change the fact that HB 2 has written discrimination into the law. Governor, work to repeal HB 2."
Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina said the "statements from Gov. McCrory seem to be a tacit acknowledgement that the process by which House Bill 2 was enacted was recklessly hasty and severely lacking in thoughtful deliberation or transparency. We hope that this can be a lesson for elected officials that passing such sweeping, controversial laws without proper time for public input and without thorough consideration undermines voter confidence in the legislative process and can cause real harm to our state."
The Gay Christian Network, which describes itself as an interdenominational nonprofit organization educating and equipping Christians worldwide to support LGBT people and their loved ones, said "while this order does address a few of the outrageous elements of HB2, it leaves in place some of the bill's biggest problems, including harmful, state-sponsored discrimination against transgender people."
Tyler Deaton, senior advisor for the American Unity Fund thanked the governor for "his willingness to recognize the mistakes of HB2 and act decisively to fix some of the damage caused by HB2's passage."
Deaton also said the executive order "means LGBT North Carolinians can feel more secure knowing their government will now protect them against discrimination in government hiring and firing and certain other state employment practices."
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Lambda Legal was less charitable in its reaction, saying "the devastating blow of HB 2 will not be fixed by the band-aid of an executive order. While this is an improvement for the state employees it impacts, HB 2's reach goes far beyond what the executive order addresses and that's why we are challenging this extreme and discriminatory measure-in order to ensure that everyone who lives in and visits North Carolina is protected under the law."
Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro said "the order doubles down on the Governor's support for some of the most problematic provisions of HB 2."
"While Governor McCrory's Executive Order creates vital protections in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, it does not address the deep concerns we share with members of the business community and citizens across the state about the damaging impact of HB 2," Sgro said.
The ACLU of North Carolina said "Gov. McCrory's actions today are a poor effort to save face after his sweeping attacks on the LGBT community, and they fall far short of correcting the damage done when he signed into law the harmful House Bill 2, which stigmatizes and mandates discrimination against gay and transgender people. With this executive order, LGBT individuals still lack legal protections from discrimination, and transgender people are still explicitly targeted by being forced to use the wrong restroom."
NC Senate leader Phil Berger countered by saying "Gov. McCrory just put to rest the left's lies about HB 2 and proved it allows private and public employers, non-profits and churches the ability to adopt nondiscrimination policies that are stronger than state and federal law. But that fact is irrelevant to Roy Cooper and his left-wing political correctness mob with their agenda-driven allies in the liberal media, who will never stop trashing North Carolina until they achieve their goal of allowing any man into any women's bathroom or locker room at any time simply by claiming to feel like a woman."
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