Since the N.C. General Assembly passed HB 2 in April, we have seen jobs lost, revenue flow to other states and sporting events canceled.
Throughout all of the backlash, I have used this weekly opinion piece to both narrate and place blame. I knew who was really behind the scenes working to pass this disaster of a bill (trying out some new words, since they seem to work for Trump in these parts), but I didn’t want to let the person who signed it off the hook that easily.
I knew who turned addressing restrooms in schools into an all out offensive against rights for the LGBT community. I understood that Gov. Pat McCrory was a moderate, and it is the General Assembly who pulls the strings in Raleigh. I also figured it was social conservatives and religious groups — dirty special interest groups with money behind them — lobbying for something more than a bill which only addressed bathrooms.
They got what they wanted. The bill defined policy for public bathrooms. It also made it clear state lawmakers haven’t an ounce of respect for the LGBT community. They didn’t even have enough respect to protect their jobs. In North Carolina, under HB2, it’s legal to fire somebody because of their sexuality or gender identity. It was as if it was written by the N.C. Values Coalition, an organization defined as a hate group by many.
That’s because — for all intensive circumstances — it was.
McCrory had tried to stand up to the more conservative legislature in the past. When they passed a bill allowing public officials to skirt their duties and not issue marriage certificates or conduct marriage ceremonies for a select group of folks, McCrory stood up and vetoed the bill. They overrode that veto, sending a clear message as to who was in charge in the state capitol.
McCrory was between a rock and a hard place. He didn’t like HB2, which is apparent after reading emails which came from his office, but with the legislature in charge, he faced a conundrum.
As reported by the Charlotte Observer citing an email from McCrory’s legal counsel, McCrory “fought against the bill.”
However, the pressure was on, as social conservatives reached out to push the bill through.
In the end, we all know McCrory signed it. With that sweep of the pen, he accepted responsibility for the law’s fallout, and in that regard, McCrory has stepped up to the plate.
He has dutifully defended the measure against which he lobbied. McCrory has been all too committed to becoming the cannon fodder for the General Assembly’s law. He has really accepted his position as Poor, Powerless Pat, and as legislators sit in gerrymandered districts, Poor Powerless Pat has real opposition in November.
What else could he do? To have vetoed it would have offended the social right, which pulls the strings of the legislature. It was McCrory’s best bet to ride HB2 out. Now, I think he’s riding a plane hurling toward a mountainside. I think Poor, Powerless Pat’s days in Raleigh will soon come to a fiery end.
When HB2 started touching wallets, those who cared little about the issue of LGBT rights woke up. It’s sad it took all of this for people to question the bill. It’s sad the average person didn’t care enough about rights to have taken a stand before all the economic fallout.
The governor could have stepped up to the plate and become a leader in all of this. Instead, he accepted his role as Poor, Powerless Pat, buckling to the more conservative legislature and hoping he could ride the social conservative right to a victory.
The casualties have been many. Concerts, sporting events and businesses have pulled out of the Tar Heel State.
In the end it’s not folks like Franklin Graham, who was cited in emails as having offered to sit down with the governor, or Tammy Fitzgerald, who heads a group committed to a hate campaign against the LGBT community, that have suffered from HB2’s fallout. Those folks will continue to get their pay checks.
It’s the average guy or gal who needed McCrory to step up and be a leader. It’s ironic that after thinking he would ride the Carolina Comeback to victory, he’s now defending a “bathroom bill” he never really supported amid concerns regarding the economic fallout of the law.
PayPal stripped the state of 400 proposed jobs in the wake of the bill. Estimates from chambers of commerce note more than $400 million lost as a result of the law, and McCrory asked N.C. Senate Pro Temp Phil Berger for permission to use the bathroom 400 times this past month.
A real leader would have been a voice for his entire constituency. A real leader cherishes all of those he serves — even those with whom he differs. A real leader would have found it much easier to have defended an overridden veto than an attack on an entire segment of the population.
McCrory opted instead to happily assume the role of Poor, Powerless Pat.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.