Charlotte-based Republican Congressman Dan Bishop announced his candidacy for North Carolina Attorney General August 3. He tossed his hat in the ring alongside another Republican, Thomas Murry and Democrat Tim Dunn.
Current Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, announced his candidacy for governor January 18. With the position poised to be vacated by Stein and Bishop carrying the most name recognition of the three now vying for attorney general, the outcome could be particularly negative for North Carolina’s LGBTQ+ community, should Bishop capture the election.
As attorney general, Bishop would represent all state government departments, agencies and commissions in legal matters. He would also provide legal opinions to the general assembly, the governor and any other public official when requested.
With far right conservative Republicans having gerrymandered their way into almost complete control of the government on a state level, Bishop would likely meet no resistance to his anti-LGBTQ+ legal opinions.
Currently Bishop serves in the U.S. House of Representatives for North Carolina’s 8th congressional district — which covers Anson, Cabarrus, Davidson, Montgomery, Richmond, Rowan, Stanly and Union counties — and has since 2019.
He previously served as a Mecklenburg County commissioner from 2004 to 2008, as well as a member of the General Assembly from 2015 to 2019.
During his congressional campaign, Bishop received an endorsement by one purported LGBTQ+ organization known as Deplorable Pride. According to founder Brian Talbert, the organization, which now identifies as a Gay Straight Alliance, serves as a “conservative, LGBT voice.”
Deplorable Pride met with Bishop throughout his congressional campaign. During one of those meetings, Mother Jones Magazine reported Bishop stated he would “work with” then-President Donald Trump on “decriminalizing homosexuality around the world.”
However, his legislative history suggests otherwise.
Bishop is widely recognized for authoring the notoriously anti-LGBTQ+ “Bathroom Bill,” also known as House Bill 2 and frequently abbreviated as HB2. The bill was designed to prohibit trans-identifying individuals from using the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity. It was later revised to House Bill 142, which made no mention of trans individuals and bathrooms. But, it did temporarily nullify existing Non-Discrimination Ordinances (NDO) and prevented further passage of any NDOs across North Carolina, during what was referred to by Republican elected officials as “a cooling-off period.”
That expired in 2021, but the passage of HB2 and the remnants of HB 142 resulted in an estimated $3.75 billion loss in the North Carolina economy when several huge organizations, musical artists and others pulled their scheduled North Carolina-based events.
The Charlotte Business Journal obtained emails sent by Bishop during the year HB2 remained in effect. During that time, he compared LGBTQ+ people and allies to the Taliban. The email exchange originated from one of Bishop’s supporters, who urged him to not “cave in to the Politically Correct Taliban! Y’all should have all of the sane states to coordinate and pass these bills on the same day so one state does not have to stand up to these pompous asses alone.”
Bishop responded in writing, saying “I LOVE that idea. Taliban. Love that too. Not giving up. Ever.” In an email exchange with a different supporter, Bishop said the LGBTQ+ equality movement “jeopardizes freedom.”
As North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District representative, Bishop voted against codifying same-sex and interracial marriage, a bipartisan-supported bill, in 2022. He was the only North Carolina Republican to explain the reason for his vote.
“[The bill] is an attack on Americans who hold the view that marriage is between one man and one woman,” his statement reads. He also said the bill “undermine[s] the traditional foundation of the family unit.”
With Bishop’s political history in mind, it is not difficult to predict how his election would impact those who identify as LGBTQ+ in North Carolina.
In a 2019 editorial from the Charlotte Observer editorial team, the staff pointed out numerous contradictions, warning constituents about Bishop’s intolerance for LGBTQ+ equality.
“Voters should see through the dodges,” the board wrote. “Dan Bishop has supported discrimination against gays and lesbians. He authored one of the most discriminatory, destructive laws in our state’s history … Keep running, Mr. Bishop. Your past is right behind you.”