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RALEIGH, N.C. (ChurchMilitant.com) - North Carolina governor Pat McCrory has signed an executive order enacting an equal employment "non-discrimination" policy for the hiring of state employees. It says people can be hired "without unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, genetic information, or disability."
It also allows that a person can sue the state in the event they feel they have been fired from a state job for any of those reasons.
But McCrory is doubling down on the most controversial aspect of House Bill 2 (HB2), enacted on March 24, saying "transgender" people must use the bathroom that coincides with the gender on their birth certificate.
He is clarifying, however, that state agencies "may make reasonable accommodations upon a person's request due to special circumstances." He continues, "[W]hen readily available and when practicable in the best judgment of the agency, all cabinet agencies shall provide a reasonable accommodation of a single occupancy restroom, locker room or shower facility upon request due to special circumstances."
People have been raging against HB2 since it was signed into law on March 24. LGBT activist group the Human Rights Campaign has been lobbying to have HB2 repealed. Its efforts were largely successful in Georgia when Gov. Nathan Deal ultimately refused to sign a religious liberty law that would protect people from being punished for not taking part in same-sex weddings.
Pressure to repeal HB2 has been coming from all corners, including members of the Obama administration, who are reviewing whether some federal funding to North Carolina should be cut. Businesses like Paypal have scuttled plans for expansion in North Carolina, and Bruce Springsteen even canceled a concert in Greensboro last week.
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York and Vermont governor Peter Shumlin banned official state travel to North Carolina in response to HB2. The mayors of San Francisco and Seattle did likewise.
Criticism has also come from Tony Spence, director and editor-in-chief of Catholic News Service, the media arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Spence said on Twitter that McCrory should have followed Georgia governor Nathan Deal's lead in not signing a religious freedom bill.
"After listening to people's feedback for the past several weeks on this issue," McCrory said, "I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina."
In an interview to Radio America, Lt. Gov. Forest defended HB2, saying LGBT activists are mischaracterizing the legislation. He maintains transgender people can still use bathrooms as long as they have completed sexual reassignment surgery and had their birth certificate changed — something commonly done by people who identify as transgender.