The three main groups backing House Bill 2 have told North Carolina House members to ignore a pledge they had asked legislators to sign promising not to repeal any parts of the law.
The Keep N.C. Safe Coalition, made up of three conservative religious organizations – Tami Fitzgerald’s N.C. Values Coalition, Mark Creech’s Christian Action League and John Rustin’s Family Policy Council – sent an email to House members Wednesday with the subject line, “Please DISREGARD H.B. 2 Pledge.”
They had distributed the pledge to legislators this week; it was posted online Tuesday night by Rep. Darren Jackson, a Knightdale Democrat who opposes House Bill 2.
“Yesterday evening, we inadvertently sent out a pledge request regarding H.B. 2, the Bathroom Privacy Act,” the email said. “We had considered providing a means, prior to the convening of the 2016 Legislative Session, by which we could continue to encourage North Carolina lawmakers to stay strong in your leadership defending the privacy and safety of all North Carolinians, and clarifying that there is no patchwork of confusing local laws in the state that are harmful to commerce, labor, and trade. However, we decided not to move forward with this pledge and respectfully ask that you disregard yesterday’s e-mail. We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused.”
By signing the pledge, lawmakers would have promised to “not vote for or support any bills in the N.C. General Assembly that would allow men to use women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, changing rooms, etc. or that would force private persons and businesses to participate in events, engage in speech, or promote ideas that violate their sincerely held beliefs.”
The pledge also said the legislator wouldn’t vote to repeal aspects of House Bill 2 addressing “protections of rights in employment and public accommodations.”
That part put the pledge at odds with McCrory’s request in an executive order last week. He called on legislators to restore state residents’ ability to sue employers in state court when alleging discrimination. HB2 requires those lawsuits to be filed only in federal court, a more difficult process.
Lastly, the pledge would have included a promise not to add sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression to any state law or nondiscrimination policy. The coalition opposes the section of McCrory’s executive order that banned discrimination in state government employment related to those categories.
House Majority Leader Mike Hager, a Rutherford County Republican, said he had not received the pledge request.
“It would be tough for me to pledge to hold the line on anything, because you know don’t know how circumstances change,” he said.