In a discussion with conservative leaders last week, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said the reaction to House Bill 2 has gotten personal, leaving his wife “shunned” at social events and making him the target of verbal assaults and even death threats.
McCrory told the group that he’s also experienced political blow-back that he said was orchestrated by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group.
He described companies that say, “Although you’ve been an outstanding governor, we still cannot support you because HRC will attack us,” he recalled. “And I’ve had at least five this week tell me that. Good friends. Very good friends. ‘Pat, I love ya. I love ya man, we’ll be friends for life. We just can’t support you.”
McCrory’s comments to the Family Research Council in Raleigh were published by Buzzfeed, which obtained a recording of the 46-minute talk.
HB2 is the law passed in response to a Charlotte ordinance that extended anti-discrimination protections to the LGBT community and would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom or locker room of the gender with which they identify.
HB2 nullified the ordinance, barred cities from adopting similar measures and requires transgender individuals to use the bathroom corresponding with the gender on their birth certificate in government buildings. It’s being challenged in a pair of federal lawsuits.
According to the recording, McCrory spoke at length about the fallout from the law:
▪ “It’s almost like the George Orwell book ‘1984’,” he said. “If you disagree with Big Brother or you go against the thought police, you will be purged. And you will disappear.”
▪ “My wife, for example, in Charlotte – she primarily stays in Charlotte,” he said. “She’s been disinvited to charity events. Basically, they call her up and say, ‘You better not come. You better not come.…
“My wife and I ... we’re being shunned for a political disagreement, a values disagreement.”
▪ “I listen to the other side … And I say, ‘I respectfully disagree with you’,” he said. “They do not say that to me, I wave to them with five fingers. They wave back with one. And it’s personal. It’s death threats. Last week, I was verbally assaulted by a 21-year-old drunk student. She was arrested.”
▪ “Everyone says, ‘Gosh, you must have thick skin.’ I don’t have thin skin. I just hide it.”
▪ “It was the liberals that became the bathroom police, not conservatives,” he said. “They passed an ordinance on private sector employers that said, if you don’t recognize gender identity and gender expression – two issues which I had never heard of – we will fine you.”
▪ McCrory said he’s been called a bigot. “I’m the farthest thing from a bigot,” he said. “I love everyone and I’m going to treat everyone equally. I want to treat people who are transgender – I want to hug ’em and say I love ’em. But I don’t agree with the concept of redefining gender. That is a major societal change.”
At one point, McCrory said, “I’m not known as an ultra-conservative.” That brought a quick response.
“You are now,” someone shouted to laughter.
Staff writer Elizabeth Leland contributed.