North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a
Democrat, on Wednesday signed an executive order barring
discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in
Cooper's office also announced that it
had reached an agreement in a case challenging House Bill 142. Under
the terms of a proposed consent decree, transgender people can use
the public bathroom of their choice.
“Earlier this year, I said there was
more work to do to protect against discrimination and make North
Carolina a welcoming state,” Cooper said in a statement. “Today’s
executive order and consent decree are important steps toward
fighting discrimination and enacting protections throughout state
government and across our state.”
The consent decree is the outcome of a
lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Lambda
Legal, which at first challenged House Bill 2, the law signed by
former Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican, that prohibited
transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice and
blocked local municipalities from enacting LGBT protections.
Passage attracted nationwide attention,
boycotts and protests. Cooper campaigned on a promise to repeal the
law and McCrory's loss was widely blamed on his continued defense of
Lawmakers repealed the law in late
March and replaced it with House Bill 142. The new law leaves
bathroom regulation to the state and enacts a moratorium on local
LGBT protections until December 1, 2020. The ACLU and Lambda Legal
modified their lawsuit to challenge House Bill 142.
The proposed consent decree clarifies
that House Bill 142 cannot be enforced to bar transgender people from
using the bathroom of their choice in government buildings, but
leaves other components of the law intact.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, applauded the governor's
actions in a statement, but added that more must be done.
“While this executive order may
represent some narrow improvements for LGBTQ North Carolinians, by no
means does it offer full protections or rectify the tremendous harm
caused by HB2 and continued harm from HB142,” said JoDee Winterhof,
senior vice president of policy and political affairs at HRC. “Gov.
Cooper and state lawmakers must show leadership on the real solution
for North Carolina — statewide, LGBTQ non-discrimination