WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.—Gov. Pat McCrory has shocked opponents of House Bill 2 (HB2) once again by making a light-hearted joke about the discriminatory legislation. After being introduced at a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, McCrory pointed to the exits with the comment, “if any of you need to use the restrooms… and if you have any questions, go to Philadelphia where the Democrats are.” Though the jab was met with chuckles in the crowd, LGBT activists aren’t laughing.
“Gov. McCrory’s callous joke about state-sponsored discrimination shows he’s no better than Trump,” said a memo from Progress NC Action. “This is truly a new low.”
Roy Cooper, McCrory’s opponent for the upcoming election, was just as critical of the governor’s action.
“Governor McCrory may be making jokes, but his discriminatory law is no laughing matter—it has already cost us jobs, hurt our economy, and damaged our reputation,” said a Cooper campaign spokesperson.
Further criticism comes from Mara Keisling, a representative of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Beyond the harm done to transgender people, Keisling expressed shock, saying, “I would at least expect him to care that [HB2] is hurting North Carolina economically.”
Further discussion of the controversial law took place at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) where an LGBT Caucus was held. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) spoke persuasively in support of full repeal.
“If you’re against discrimination, then you’re against all discrimination,” Cuomo said. Under Cuomo’s leadership, New York has placed a ban on non-essential travel to North Carolina, costing Duke University their much-anticipated basketball game against Albany.
Also at the DNC, an historic event took place; Sarah McBride became the first openly transgender person to ever address a national party convention. McBride’s speech alluded to HB2.
“LGBTQ people are still targeted by hate that lives in both laws and in hearts,” McBride said. “Despite our progress, so much work remains.”
That work has been undertaken by a coalition of states headed by New York and Washington. The 10 states and the District of Columbia have filed an Amicus Brief in support of the federal government’s lawsuit against North Carolina for discrimination. States that have signed the brief also include: California, Illinois, Washington, Maryland, Connecticut, Vermont, New Mexico and Oregon.
“This country’s strength is found in our diversity and inclusiveness,” Cuomo said in a press release. “At a time when so many are seeking to create rifts that separate Americans from one another, it is our responsibility to fight back.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman agreed, saying, “Transgender people deserve to live with dignity, free from discrimination.”
Another participant in the brief is Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, who spoke at the DNC against HB2 and its governor. Malloy doesn’t buy the “bathroom safety” explanation for the legislation.
“Your governor is telling fibs,” Malloy said. “[He] would have pretended to be a choirboy if it would help him get elected…This is about discrimination. This is something we’ve got to stand up and push back on.”
These allegations did not go unnoticed; McCrory representatives lashed back at Malloy by citing Connecticut’s budget shortfall under the current governor’s leadership.
The same coalition and two additional states also filed another court brief against Texas, where politicians have challenged the federal government’s pro-transgender bathroom initiative.
The federal court cases concerning HB2 are scheduled to begin on Monday, Nov. 14. However, a preliminary hearing will be held on Aug. 1 to hear arguments regarding an immediate injunction to stop enforcement of the bathroom provisions of the law.