RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday he wants to change a new state law that prevents people from suing over discrimination in state court, but he’s not challenging a measure regarding bathroom access for transgender people.
His announcement comes as fallout widens over the law he signed last month that would limit protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people.
McCrory said he’s using an executive order to expand the equal employment policy for state employees to include sexual orientation and gender, as well as affirming private businesses’ rights to establish their own bathroom policies.
He also says he will ask lawmakers to file legislation later this month allowing people to sue in state court over discrimination. That right was wiped out by the law.
But he said his order will maintain gender-specific restroom and locker room access in government buildings and schools. He once again condemned a Charlotte ordinance passed earlier this year that allowed transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity, calling it “a solution in search of a problem.”
The state law was passed partly in response to the Charlotte measure.
But it went further than repealing the Charlotte law by overruling LGBT antidiscrimination measures passed by local governments around the state. It also excluded sexual orientation and gender identity from the state’s antidiscrimination policy. The law also required transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate.
McCrory acknowledged outcry over the law, saying he’d listened to “feedback” from people for several weeks.
He said that “based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.”
Advocacy groups that have been fighting the state law said McCrory’s actions don’t go far enough.
Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, said McCrory’s order is a step in the right direction but still “doubles down” on some of the most problematic parts of the law.
“If the governor is truly committed to non-discrimination and wants to undo the harms done by House Bill 2, this is just the beginning of the conversation,” Sgro said in a written statement.
The head of the state ACLU, which has filed a lawsuit challenging the law, said the governor had made “a poor effort to save face.”
“With this executive order, LGBT individuals still lack legal protections from discrimination, and transgender people are still explicitly targeted by being forced to use the wrong restroom,” said Sarah Preston, the group’s acting executive director for the state.
McCrory’s announcement came hours after Deutsche Bank announced that it’s halting plans to add 250 jobs in North Carolina because of the law.