North Carolina is in rough shape. Following Gov. Pat McCrory and the legislature's enactment of an anti-LGBTQ law, the state has faced a big business backlash, with PayPal pulling a 400-job expansion out of the state, Bruce Springsteen canceling a concert, and more companies issuing condemnations and threats.
Here comes the damage control. On Tuesday, McCrory announced a new executive order that makes some very small tweaks to the law. Here is what the order does, according to McCrory's office:
Maintains common sense gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities in government buildings and schools
Affirms the private sector's right to establish its own restroom and locker room policies
Affirms the private sector and local governments' right to establish non-discrimination employment policies for its own employees
Expands the state's employment policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity
Seeks legislation to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination
There are some very modest advancements for LGBTQ rights here, particularly the move to protect LGBTQ state government employees from discrimination. But LGBTQ workers who don't work for the state government remain unprotected from workplace discrimination under state law.
But these changes don't really address the main concerns with North Carolina's law. The law still prohibits — and, in fact, McCrory affirmed that it prohibits — trans people from using the bathroom in schools and government buildings that matches their gender identity. And the law still blocks cities and counties from legally banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations. These provisions remain untouched, regardless of any new protections for state government employees.
In fact, the executive order mostly seems to reiterate what the law already allows. Under the law, it's already legal for private employers to set their own bathroom and locker room policies, and local governments and private employers can already set up their own nondiscrimination policies for their own employees. There was zero doubt about this prior to the executive order.
So these are not the problems with the law. Again, the actual criticisms are about the anti-trans bathroom law for schools and government buildings and the ban on cities and counties passing nondiscrimination laws for LGBTQ people. If anything, the executive order doubles down on the former.
As the American Civil Liberties Union put it, the executive order "is a band-aid on a brain hemorrhage."
For more on North Carolina's anti-LGBTQ law, read Vox's explainer.