North Carolina’s Executive Order – Does It Change The “Bathroom Bill”?

Is Governor Pat McCrory rethinking his position on the HB2 bill?

Last week, we addressed North Carolina’s HB2, or “bathroom bill” as it’s become affectionately known.   Click the hyper link and give it a read if you’d like to catch up a bit on what that’s all about (you don’t have to read the entire post, as the first section explains what the HB2 bill actually says).

The bill was signed into law on the night of March 23, 2016, and in that time, public outcry against the bill has been strong.  According to multiple sources, numerous companies have spoken out against the bill, including Google, Facebook, Apple, American Airlines,  and even the NBA.

So what affect, if any, has this had on the governor?

On April 12th, the Governor signed into law Executive Order 93.  According to CNN, the governor said the order “expands the state’s employment policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity” and “seeks legislation to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination.”  And according to the Washington Post, “McCrory said he was expanding protections for state employees, which would prevent these workers from being fired for being gay or transgender. He also said he would seek legislation restoring the right to sue for discrimination.”

Hey, fantastic!!  He’s finally getting the message!  Maybe a certain someone who battles me constantly over facebook on this issue was right, and things are improving now.

Yea, not so fast.  Lets look at what the actual order itself says.  You can see this order here:

Summed up, the order says

In the provision of government services and in the administration of programs . . . public agencies shall serve all people equally, consistent with the mission and requirements of the service or program.

— and —

I hearby affirm that the State of North Carolina is committed to administering and implementing all State human resources policies . . . without unlawful discrimination on the basis of” – then goes on to list a number of protected groups, which this time includes the LGBT community.

However, the order does not reverse HB2, and only emphasizes that LGBT people will still “receive services” from state agencies.  It goes on to state LGBT people will be provided “reasonable accommodations of single occupancy restrooms”, but that order only applies to “cabinet agencies”.  It does nothing to change – and the even lists them – “private businesses, non-profit employers, local governments, cities, counties, the University of North Carolina system, and the North Carolina Community College System”, stating that these are merely “invited to make similar accommodation where practicable”.

“Where practicable” is nice.  Because what happens if you just don’t have single occupancy rooms?  “Welp, not practicable then, LOL!!!”

The order goes on to emphasize that private businesses are still completely allowed to discriminate.  And if a private business leases state property?  Yep – still allowed!

Section 6 of this order states that the governor encourages the state to take steps against “wrongful discharge based on *unlawful* employment discrimination”.

Cover my assHowever, discrimination against LGBT people is not unlawful.  Remember bill HB2?  It specifically omits LGBT people from such protections, and the order itself only stipulates that “state human resources policies, practices, and programs” will be administered without discrimination against LGBT people.  Therefore this does nothing to protect us from any unlawful discharge.

So what does this order actually do then?  What’s the point?

The only real elements of note here are that “cabinet agencies” are required to provided single occupancy restrooms to trans people *if they are available* (and if they aren’t, tough luck), and that LGBT people will receive state services.  It still allows pretty much everything else.

However, because these changes are mentioned, the governor can now claim that he’s backing up on his earlier decision and is now protecting LGBT people.  It’s a classic move of CMA (Cover My Ass) and an attempt to take some heat off him and his state.  What’s more, any future complaints can be answered by saying “Well there’s an executive order!” – keeping in mind that most folks are not going to actually read the order itself to find out what’s in there.

Nice try, McCrory.