McCrory’s hypocrisy in transgender flap

The Observer editorial board

Gov. Pat McCrory has warned Charlotte officials that new legal protections for LGBT citizens could prompt state intervention.
Gov. Pat McCrory has warned Charlotte officials that new legal protections for LGBT citizens could prompt state intervention. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Should local governments be allowed to decide bathroom policies for their transgender citizens without interference from political higher-ups?

Gov. Pat McCrory’s answer to that question apparently changes depending on which local governments we’re talking about, and whether he agrees with their outlook on the controversial topic.

Back in November, the governor said local schools should decide bathroom rights for transgender students. He spoke out against the Obama administration for joining a legal case aimed at giving boys’ bathroom access to a transgender Virginia student who was born female but identifies as male.

McCrory wrote a letter to his likely gubernatorial opponent, Attorney General Roy Cooper, demanding that the state’s top legal officer fight this “unacceptable and unnecessary” federal overreach.

Now here we are, just three months later, and the governor is engaging in “unacceptable and unnecessary” state overreach into the city of Charlotte’s debate over anti-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian and transgender citizens.

The flashpoint of the debate remains the question about transgender citizens and bathrooms. As the City Council moved Monday toward passing a new ordinance that would give bathroom-of-choice rights to transgender residents, McCrory warned that such action would spark immediate “legislative intervention” by the state.

This is not the first time McCrory has opposed gay rights. He fought expanded protections for gays as a City Council member in the 1990s. He snubbed the Human Rights Campaign in 2005 when the gay rights group sought a mayoral welcome for its fund-raising dinner in Charlotte. He also expressed support for Amendment One, the now-overturned constitutional amendment against gay marriage.

So while it is disappointing to see him oppose the new ordinance, it isn’t surprising. It aligns with his track record, and could help prop up his sagging poll numbers. To wit, the N.C. GOP issued a hyper-dramatic statement Monday hailing him for protecting families and children from Charlotte’s “radical special interest agenda.”

McCrory suggested in an email to two Republican City Council members that he’s wading in now because citizens from across the state and nation will be affected when they visit Charlotte.

That’s flimsy covering indeed, considering all the times when he railed as mayor about Raleigh politicians meddling in Charlotte’s affairs.

Our City Council, in pushing for new anti-bias protections, accurately reflects how most Charlotteans feel. The city’s voters reaffirmed that in last November’s elections by adding more council members who support those provisions.

Charlotte doesn’t need the governor’s input on this. We hope he’ll remember his own past words on local control. He – and the General Assembly – should stay out of the way.