Politics & Government

Gov. Pat McCrory questions need for religious freedom bills

Matt Hirschy of Equality NC, and other representatives wait to deliver boxes of petitions to Governor Pat McCrory's office on Mondayat the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center in Charlotte, asking him to veto proposals in the General Assembly involving the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Representatives from local business and faith communities delivered thousands of petitions.
Matt Hirschy of Equality NC, and other representatives wait to deliver boxes of petitions to Governor Pat McCrory's office on Mondayat the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center in Charlotte, asking him to veto proposals in the General Assembly involving the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Representatives from local business and faith communities delivered thousands of petitions. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Gov. Pat McCrory Monday reiterated his concerns over controversial religious freedom legislation, even as opponents of the measures delivered petitions to his Charlotte and Raleigh offices.

McCrory again stopped short of saying he would veto the proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act bills, which Equality NC and the ACLU urged him to do.

“I’m not even sure it will get to my desk, so why comment?” the governor said after an appearance at UNC Charlotte. “I need the process to work to see if it will even get to my desk.”

McCrory repeated that he’s on record questioning the need for such bills.

“What is the problem they’re trying to solve?” McCrory said last month on Charlotte’s WFAE. “I haven’t seen it up to this point in time.”

Critics said the bills filed last month would provide legal cover for businesses and individuals who discriminate against gays and lesbians. Supporters say North Carolina needs a law to protect people as they exercise the religious liberty guaranteed in the First Amendment.

Similar measures in Indiana and Arkansas sparked a national firestorm.

In North Carolina, the so-called RFRA measures are still in committee. Both Senate President Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore have suggested lawmakers may move slowly.

Last week, IBM’s top North Carolina executive became the latest representative of the business community to come out against the bills.

In a letter to McCrory, Robert Greenberg said IBM wants lawmakers to defeat the bills. “This legislation, if enacted, would enable discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or identity,” he wrote.

Proponents say the bills are based on federal RFRA legislation. That Democratic-sponsored measure passed the U.S. Senate 97-3, with Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina voting no.

Critics say the N.C. proposal makes it easier for people to claim a law or policy threatens their religious beliefs and to file suits.

Morrill: 704-358-5059

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