North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says he won't defend HB 2; McCrory says Cooper should 'fulfill his duty'

Bywith the Associated Press WTVD logo
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
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AG, governor spar over HB2 law.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper is refusing to defend a controversial law, he says is discriminatory. House Bill 2 was signed into law last week and bans local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules.

"We're talking about discrimination here," said Cooper. "Not only is this new law a national embarrassment, it will set North Carolina's economy back."

Cooper made the announcement Tuesday. He explained he has stepped up and defended legislation he didn't agree with in the past.


"This is a unique and different situation, and as attorney general there are often times situations where you have to make choices with different agencies that are conflicted. Here, this is the right choice," said Cooper.

With this stance, Senator Phil Berger is calling on the attorney general to resign immediately.

"He is telling everybody that it's more important to him to apply for and work towards the job he wants than the job he has," said Sen. Berger. "If he wants to run for governor, he's perfectly free to do that. But he can't do that and ignore the job he's being paid for now."

Governor Pat McCrory released a video message Tuesday afternoon.

"Some have called our state an embarrassment. The real embarrassment is politicians not publicly respecting each other's positions on complex issues," McCrory said.

McCrory also countered Cooper's declaration that he wouldn't defend the law and urged the attorney general to reconsider.

"Now I'm standing up to the Attorney General of North Carolina who today refused to fulfill his oath of office to defend the people of North Carolina in a lawsuit filed over the privacy of our restrooms," McCrory said. "As the state's attorney, he can't select which laws he will defend and which laws are politically expedient to refuse to defend.

"When you are the state's lawyer, you are a lawyer first and a politician second. Therefore, I encourage the Attorney General to reconsider his flawed logic."

LGBT advocates are suing the state and filed paperwork Monday.

House Bill 2 was designed to block a Charlotte ordinance, part of which allowed transgender people to use whatever bathroom they wanted.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts visited the Capital City and offered a different perspective as she addressed the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Roberts explained that the roots of the ordinance was to show solidarity with Charlotte's transgender community.

"This ordinance is Charlotte's way of saying 'We support you, we have heard there is discrimination, isolated incidents. We don't think that's right, we know it's not good for business,'" said Roberts.

Tami Fitzgerald, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, argues the law protects the public.

"It is just common sense that men should not go into the women's restrooms. It's ridiculous to have such an uproar," she said.

A letter is circulating in support of the bill. Hundreds of businesses have signed their names.

There's also significant opposition.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo banned non-essential travel to North Carolina. New York is the first state to institute such a measure.

"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," said Governor Cuomo. "From Stonewall to marriage equality, our state has been a beacon of hope and equality for the LGBT community, and we will not stand idly by as misguided legislation replicates the discrimination of the past. As long as there is a law in North Carolina that creates the grounds for discrimination against LGBT people, I am barring non-essential state travel to that state."

Three major cities are also restricting travel: New York City, Seattle, and San Francisco.

Businesses American Airlines, Apple, Google and Facebook have all issued statements critical of the new law.

Cooper says besides the law being unconstitutional, it will hurt the state's economy.

"North Carolina in a position now where we could lose millions of dollars. We could lose jobs," said Cooper.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest is weighting in on Cooper's refusal to defend the law. Forest said in a statement:

The attorney general is supposed to be the people's lawyer, but instead of standing up for the 70 percent of North Carolinians who oppose Charlotte's bathroom ordinance, Roy Cooper decided today he would rather side with the ACLU, the White House and Washington, D.C. special interests groups who believe that businesses should be forced to allow men into women's restrooms - even if they are registered sex offenders - all in the name of political correctness.

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