I have a question.
A recent executive order issued by Gov. Pat McCrory adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes (such as race) against which North Carolina cannot discriminate in its own personnel practices.
The governor’s action makes sense because discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is just as bad as racism. In fact, it only makes sense if such parity is the case.
The state law known as HB2 established a list of classes (such as race) against which private-sector discrimination is now unlawful in North Carolina. The governor proclaimed this new statewide policy with much fanfare. He thought it was a real accomplishment. Almost as good as the recent Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Yes, yes, I know. The law is toothless because it’s not supported by a right to sue in state court, but that’s not what I want to fuss about here. Here’s what I want to fuss about: The list of protected classes in HB2 inexplicably excluded sexual orientation and gender identity. This is one reason (though not the only one) why what could have been a beautifully cosmetic advance in state civil rights law is called Hate Bill 2 (or worse) by everyone familiar with its provisions. And the state is losing tons of business and good will as a result.
So now the question: If the governor sincerely believes that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is just as bad as racism, why isn’t he pushing as hard as he can to get those groups added to HB2’s list of protected classes?
It cannot be because he thinks that state government has no business regulating discriminatory practices in the private sector. HB2 already does that. As does federal law. It can only be because he thinks either that LGBT people are less worthy of fair treatment or that they are less discriminated against in everyday life.
But the governor says no such things. He’s all sweetness and light on that score. Indeed, nary a supporter of HB2 will confess to any animus toward the LGBT community or any disrespect for their legitimate concerns. The law, they claim, is about other matters entirely.
So what gives? Why aren’t sexual orientation and gender identity — against which discrimination is now prohibited in state personnel policy — recognized equally as protected classes under HB2?
I’ve raised this question with supporters of the law, and I have heard only evasions and bumptious sarcasm in reply. Do they have a mature response?
— Peter Robbins