RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order today extending protections to members of the LGBTQ community who work for the state, receive state services or work for a company that contracts with the state.
“By requiring companies that contract with the state to have non-discrimination policies, the state can promote protections for more North Carolinians outside of state government,” Cooper said. “We’ve worked with the business community, advocates for the LGBT community and other North Carolinians who know our state is stronger because of our diversity, and I will keep working to make our state a welcoming and inclusive place.”
He also signed a consent decree stating that transgender people are allowed to use the bathrooms matching their gender identity under state law. Cooper, cabinet secretaries named in the suit, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Attorney General Josh Stein submitted the proposed order to the U.S. District Court in Greensboro.
“If approved by a judge, the settlement would resolve a lawsuit that challenged provisions in House Bill 142, which replaced House Bill 2,” Cooper said.
Cooper signed HB142, the HB2 “compromise” repeal bill, into law. It prevents agencies overseen by the state from changing their policies to become inclusive to transgender people, and keeps states from proposing new non-discrimination ordinances covering the LGBTQ community.
“For too many reasons, it is not in our state’s best interest to remain in drawn-out court battles that still linger because of HB2,” he added. “As a state, we need to work together to make North Carolina more welcoming, and I am pleased that we could come together with the other party in this case to show that we agree.”
“Nothing can make up for the cruel and senseless attacks transgender people have faced in North Carolina, but I am hopeful that the court will agree to clarify the law so that we can live our lives in less fear,” said Joaquín Carcaño, a transgender man employed by UNC-Chapel Hill who is one of the challengers against HB2 and its replacement.
LGBTQ rights organizations were cautious in their praise of Cooper’s executive order, noting that the community is still not fully protected from discrimination.
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“While this executive order may represent some narrow improvements for LGBTQ North Carolinians, by no means does it offer full protections or rectify the tremendous harm caused by HB 2 and continued harm from HB 142,” said JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs. “Governor Cooper and state lawmakers must show leadership on the real solution for North Carolina — statewide, LGBTQ non-discrimination protections.”
“This EO brings North Carolina a little bit closer back to where many states have been for years. And that has some meaningful consequences for many LGBTQ North Carolinians—it means, for example, that they have a bit of extra protection against being turned away from government services like the DMV and fired from a state government job simply because of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “But it’s not nearly enough, especially when the state of North Carolina continues to sanction and promote anti-transgender discrimination under HB 142.”
“It is important to note that some of the worst portions of the HB2 compromise, HB142, remain on the books and continue to cause real harm to LGBTQ North Carolinians every day,” said Matt Hirschy, Interim Executive Director for Equality NC. “While the executive order issued today is a step in the right direction, the fact remains that a majority of LGBTQ North Carolinians lack protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations. Realizing that there is more work to be done, we are hopeful that Governor Roy Cooper will work harder for positive change for our community and others. Equality NC will not stop until every North Carolinian feels safe in their community.”