Politics & Government

HRC celebrates McCrory defeat: ‘Hate has consequences’

Equality NC, HRC celebrate Gov. McCrory's defeat

House Bill 2 opponents speak Wednesday
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House Bill 2 opponents speak Wednesday

Washington-based Human Rights Campaign on Wednesday celebrated Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s loss to Democrat Roy Cooper, and said its polling found that House Bill 2 was the top issue for Cooper voters.

HRC, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, and Equality NC also continued to call for a full repeal of HB2 and dismissed any talk of a compromise bill.

“Minor tweaks are political posturing,” said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC and a Democratic state representative from Greensboro. HB2 overturned a Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance that would have expanded protections for LGBT individuals. It also would have let transgender individuals use the bathroom of their gender identity.

Sgro and others spoke at a news conference outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center with a dozen supporters.

Nearly a month after the election, McCrory this week conceded the governor’s race to Cooper.

Chad Griffin, president of HRC, said McCrory’s defeat is a “historic turning point.”

He said McCrory “picked a fight with fair-minded North Carolinians and lost.” He also said that “hate has consequences.”

In many ways, the November election was a setback for the LGBT community, starting at the presidential race, where Republican Donald Trump won. HRC had been a strong supporter of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

But Griffin said Trump’s victory meant that McCrory’s loss was even more meaningful. He said tens of thousands of voters in the state supported Trump, but then decided that McCrory shouldn’t be re-elected. He said 57 percent of Cooper voters said HB2 was their top issue.

HRC has been McCrory’s nemesis this year. McCrory has blamed the group for leading economic boycotts against the state. He also claimed that HRC is more powerful than the National Rifle Association.

Cooper has said he wants to repeal HB2. But Republicans still have super-majorities in both the Senate and House, and it’s unclear if there will be a groundswell of support to repeal or change the law.

Last month, Tami Fitzgerald of the NC Values Coalition said the “people have spoken” and the HB2 debate is “over.” She was referring to Republican state legislative victories.

Immediately after the election, Republican House Speaker Tim Moore of Kings Mountain told The (Raleigh) News & Observer that voters weren’t focused on HB2.

“Voters voted based on the economy,” Moore said. “I continue to believe that HB2 has been misrepresented by the left and the media and was blown out of proportion. At the end of the day, I believe voters saw that as well.”

At Wednesday’s news conference, Griffin said the state needs to repeal all of HB2. Even before HB2 was passed, he said, North Carolina was “already behind 18 other states” in terms of LGBT rights.

“The state was already behind the curve,” he said.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs