Two weeks ago, in the July 18, 2014, print edition, I wrote that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory had missed a unique opportunity to tip his hat in the direction of inclusion and set this state, his office and his party apart from anti-LGBT politics of division (“McCrory’s missed opportunity, qnotescarolinas.com/30287/).
The opportunity came when the governor signed a new equal employment opportunity executive order protecting state workers from discrimination on the basis of a variety of traits. Notably — glaringly — protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity weren’t included.
“Most important is the seeming flippancy and disregard McCrory and his office seemed to have for LGBT North Carolinians who have chosen to work for the state and her people,” I wrote. “Ignoring their existence and refusing to offer much-needed employment protections must surely be a political move, for there are no legitimate reasons not to extend the protections.”
I continued, “By ignoring LGBT workers, McCrory missed his one, perfect opportunity to bring himself, his office and his state some good news for change — just one week after the second-highest ranking House Republican caused controversy with comments comparing homosexuality to pedophilia.”
McCrory’s and his staffers’ willingness to ignore LGBT workers has not gotten better, as originally reported on our website on July 23.
Repeated requests to McCrory’s press office and Deputy Communications Director Ryan Tronovitch for answers to two simple questions have gone unreturned for weeks. And, it’s clear by now that neither McCrory nor his staffers are willing to have any sort of direct engagement or dialogue with LGBT North Carolinians — people whom, whether the governor likes it or not, are his constituents. We are taxpayers, citizens and voters. We are parents, teachers, police officers, firefighters and paramedics. We are members of the clergy, non-profit staffers, charity volunteers.
But, none of that matters evidently. We aren’t worth wasting a few measly typed sentences in a statement answering two simple questions.
On the flip side of the debate is the North Carolina Values Coalition and the closely-associated North Carolina Pastors Network. And, it seems Gov. McCrory is ignoring them, too.
On July 15, the pastors network — including Charlotte First Baptist Church Pastor and failed U.S. Senate candidate Mark Harris — called on Gov. McCrory to uphold and defend the state’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment passed in 2012.
The press conference was held mere feet from the governor’s office, but McCrory didn’t show. Neither has he spoken out on the amendment since its passage two years ago.
Tami Fitzgerald’s North Carolina Values Coalition is none too pleased.
“To this point, Governor McCrory has been silent about the lawsuits, despite multiple attempts to get him to proactively announce the Administration’s plans for protecting and defending the Amendment in the event the Fourth Circuit overturns Virginia’s Marriage Amendment,” the anti-gay group wrote, continuing, “We are disappointed to report that Governor McCrory has been silent on the lawsuits, and has shown no leadership in protecting marriage. This week pastors stood up for marriage. It’s time for Governor McCrory to do the same.”
So, perhaps it’s becoming more clear then. McCrory isn’t just ignoring LGBT people. He’s also ignoring the people who would seek to take away the rights of LGBT citizens. Maybe he and his staff think this is fair. Perhaps, he and his staff think they can play the moderate hand by engaging with neither side. Perhaps, I’m sure they’ve discussed behind closed doors, all the controversy will go away and none of it can be pinned on McCrory if he stays out of the fray.
And, they are wrong. The controversy isn’t going away. The debate isn’t dying down. The struggle for equality won’t disappear. Indeed, the movement toward equality is only getting stronger and more widespread each and every day — at an astonishingly rapid pace.
McCrory isn’t taking a “moderate stance” by staying quiet and attempting to avoid questions posed by this newspaper and other media outlets or by activist groups on either side of the debate. His cold shoulder — something well understood by LGBT Charlotteans who experienced it time and time again during his 14 years as mayor in the Queen City — is a sign unto itself. Silence is a chosen “side” in this multifaceted debate — a side that will go down in history as ambivalent, unfeeling aloofness devoid of care for the people entrusted to his care as leader of this great state.
When the history books are written and LGBT equality has become the law of the land, McCrory’s name will be synonymous with those who attempted to take away the rights of others. By choosing silence, McCrory has chosen the status quo. When that status quo changes forever, McCrory will be left in the dust — a relic of a time when people chose politics over what was right, a shameful choice considering the Republican right’s utter insistence on “moral values.”
It’s not too late, though. McCrory could speak out. He could answer this newspaper’s questions. He could more regularly engage with the citizens whose rights have been under attack by people in his party. He could become a true leader, a visionary. He could join the ranks of generations of Tar Heel governors who pushed forward toward a better Old North State for all. Heck, he could even call up organizers of the state’s largest LGBT Pride event, held right in the center of his old hometown, and offer to be a grand marshal of its parade!
McCrory could do any or all of these things or any of an innumerable other options. But, at this point, I sincerely doubt he will. He’s chosen his side: silent complacency. : :