Two leading LGBT civil rights groups opposed to House Bill 2 on Thursday requested copies of all communications about HB2 among the governor and legislative leaders and state and national religious public interest organizations.
In a news conference in front of the legislative building announcing the public records request, advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people said the records might shed light on what they describe as the politicians’ dishonest or uninformed explanations of the new law.
The groups are asking that the records be provided before the General Assembly convenes April 25, which would be an unusually prompt turnaround time. The advocates said that if the legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory could rush HB2 into law in one day, they can provide the records by then.
The request by the national Human Rights Campaign and Equality N.C. seeks communications and correspondence with the national Alliance Defending Freedom and the N.C. Values Coalition.
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The Alliance Defending Freedom is an Arizona-based Christian law firm that has been involved in a number of North Carolina issues, representing House and Senate leaders in a lawsuit over a constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage. The state ultimately lost the suit. The N.C. Values Coalition has promoted conservative social issues and led the fight for HB2.
The law prevented Charlotte from allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their gender identity, not their sex at birth. It prevented cities and counties from having their own nondiscrimination ordinances, and established a statewide policy that does not include sexual orientation or gender identity.
McCrory this week issued an executive order that extended sexual orientation and gender identity protections for state workers only, but reaffirmed other provisions in the law, including the contentious bathroom issue. He also asked the legislature to repeal a section that took away workers’ rights to sue over discrimination in state court. The civil rights advocates said the order accomplished nothing, other than as an acknowledgment that HB2 is flawed.
“Today, we’re trying to get to the bottom of this,” said Matt Hirschy of Equality N.C. “It seems very clear HB2 is politically motivated by national radical interests working through groups like the North Carolina Values Coalition. All of our lawmakers owe it to us to be open, honest and well-intentioned about the economy of our state and the safety of all of our state’s people, including gay and transgender people.”
Josh Ellis, McCrory’s communications director, issued this response:
“The Human Rights Campaign is a shadowy, left-wing group funded by anonymous donors that is recklessly leading the charge to mislead the public and smear North Carolina. Yesterday, this group’s hypocrisy reached new levels when it praised the Democratic governor of Louisiana for signing a historic executive order after criticizing Gov. McCrory for signing a nearly identical executive order that expanded protections for state employees.”
The Human Rights Campaign says it is the largest LGBT rights organization in the country. It is comprised of two nonprofit groups and a political action committee. Nonprofit organizations do not have to disclose where their money comes from.
It has predominately supported Democratic candidates. According to the campaign finance group Open Secrets, the Human Rights Campaign spent $1.2 million on lobbying in 2014. Federal records show the campaign and its related foundation have annual income of more than $50 million.
Brandon Lorenz of the Human Rights Campaign says the organization has millions of members from all political parties, including “tens of thousands” in North Carolina. He said the group has a long history of endorse Republicans and independents as well as Democrats.
Last month, McCrory met with representatives of the Human Rights Campaign and Equality N.C.