O-Pinion

McCrory’s words – and his actions

Chad Briggs (left) and his partner Chris Creech exchange wedding vows with Chief Magistrate Dexter Williams, left, presiding in Raleigh last October.
Chad Briggs (left) and his partner Chris Creech exchange wedding vows with Chief Magistrate Dexter Williams, left, presiding in Raleigh last October. clowenst@newsobserver.com

Gov. Pat McCrory faces some crucial decisions in coming days that will help define who he is and could affect his 2016 re-election campaign.

Two lightning-rod bills are headed his way, and in both cases the governor has already staked out his position. The only remaining question is whether he will back up his earlier statements with meaningful action.

The House on Wednesday passed Senate Bill 2, which allows magistrates and registers of deeds to refuse to perform marriages and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Doing so is a direct violation of their oath of office, but SB2 lets them cite undefined “sincerely held religious beliefs” to refuse to serve certain N.C. residents.

In an interview on WFAE in March, McCrory said he would refuse to sign SB2 “because I don’t think you should have an exception or a carve-out when you swore an oath to the Constitution of North Carolina or to the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Wise words, but not signing a bill and vetoing one are two different things. If McCrory doesn’t veto it, the bill becomes law with his tacit blessing, despite his stated opposition.

Meanwhile, the Senate today is expected to pass dramatic new restrictions on abortion, including requiring a woman to wait 72 hours before making a final decision. House Bill 465 would make North Carolina only the fourth state with such a restriction.

McCrory vowed during his campaign not to support any further restrictions on abortion. Asked during a debate what further restrictions on abortion he would sign, McCrory replied unequivocally: “None.”

Now is his chance to back that promise up. Again, McCrory could seek to make a distinction between not signing the bill and vetoing it. But the voters of North Carolina know what he promised, and they’ll know if he lets this bill become law.

McCrory’s moderate bona fides have repeatedly come into question since his 2012 victory. With 2016 around the corner, he would be wise to start shoring them up. He’ll have two prime chances to do so – or not. -- Taylor Batten

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