CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday morning that he won’t be signing a controversial bill allowing magistrates and other officials to opt out of serving LGBT people seeking civil marriage services.

McCrory, a Republican, also questioned another set of so-called “religious freedom” bills introduced in the state legislature last week. They’re similar to Indiana’s recently passed law and opponents say the legislation would allow any person, corporation, association or other entities to simply ignore laws they claim violate their religious beliefs.

The governor’s comments came in response to a listener’s and the host Mike Collins’ questions on WFAE’s “Charlotte Talks” on Monday morning.

“At this time, I would not sign it the way it’s written,” McCrory said of the anti-LGBT magistrate bill, Senate Bill 2, currently on hold in a House committee. “I’ve stated for the record, I don’t think you should have an exemption or a carve out when you swore an oath to the Constitution of North Carolina or to the Constitution of the United States of America.”

McCrory also said separate “religious freedom” bills “make no sense,” and compared them to Charlotte’s proposed — and ultimately rejected — LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances.

“The left here brought up transgender bathrooms, which is a totally ridiculous argument and should have never been brought up, and on the right I think some of the items that are in the so-called religious freedom bill also make no sense and I’ve stated that for the record,” McCrory said.

McCrory continued: “What was the problem they are trying to correct — on both the transgender bathroom issue that the Democrats brought up in Charlotte and some of my Republicans are bringing up in Raleigh regarding the freedom of religions — what is the problem they are trying to solve? I haven’t seen it up to this point in time.”

McCrory wouldn’t directly answer the Collin’s question on whether or not a business owner should be able to discriminate against customers.

The original caller had also quizzed McCrory on his past actions as mayor in Charlotte, particularly his unwillingness to issue letters of welcome to local Pride events and the annual Human Rights Carolina Gala.

“One issue I had as mayor with some of these groups,” McCrory responded, “is they were doing a major function at Marshall Park where there was pictures and really some obscene things at Marshall Park…”

Collins stepped in during those remarks, reminding the governor that he wasn’t necessarily friendly to the Human Rights Campaign Gala either.

“Can I finish my sentence?” McCrory retorted. “I’m trying to answer the question from the caller.”

You can listen to the full remarks during the segment in the audio clip below.


Adocates respond

Staffers with Equality North Carolina, the statewide LGBT advocacy group, responded Monday to McCrory’s remarks, executive director Chris Sgro saying in a release:

“It is heartening to see that our state’s leaders are finally listening to the deafening calls from LGBT advocates, business leaders, faith communities, and North Carolina constituents, from Murphy to Manteo, all in opposition to this type of dangerous and discriminatory legislation. These religious refusal bills are in no way similar to Charlotte’s or any other state or local non-discrimination ordinance. Rather, RFRA essentially allows individuals to use their religious beliefs to harm others, paving the way for challenges to virtually any law designed to protect all of us from various forms of discrimination, in Charlotte and beyond.Therefore, Equality NC and our allies will do everything we can to make sure they never become law, from the committee rooms of our state legislature all the way to the governor’s desk at the state capitol.”

Sgro added: “Right now, we must not only protect the LGBT community but also North Carolina’s reputation as a place welcoming to all,” said Sgro.

Advocates are citizens to contact their legislators and contact the governor.

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.