North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has insisted throughout the debate over his anti-LGBTQ law that his intent is not discrimination. "Our nation is one nation. Especially when it comes to fighting discrimination, which I support wholeheartedly," McCrory said on Monday. "I want to ensure the people of our state and our country know that North Carolina has long held traditions of ensuring equality."
But if that's the case, McCrory has a strange way of showing it. Over the past several decades, he has consistently used his positions of power to enable discrimination against LGBTQ people. Jennifer Bendery reported for the Huffington Post:
McCrory has rejected LGBT anti-discrimination measures every chance he's had in his 25 years in public office. He voted down a Charlotte ordinance in 1991 as a city council member, opposed another one in 2004 as the city's mayor, and now, as governor, he just made it illegal for localities to pass these kinds of protections.
"We have laws in our Constitution which forbid discrimination based on race, gender and religion," McCrory said after opposing the 1991 measure. "Beyond that, no other group should be given special status, and this community is often wanting special status."
He had a chance in 2014 to offer protections to LGBT government workers, when he signed an executive order barring discrimination against state employees. But he specifically left them out, keeping the order limited to discrimination based on "race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age disability and genetic information."
Similar to the 2014 executive order, North Carolina's anti-LGBTQ law explicitly excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from the state's nondiscrimination protections. McCrory tried to make up for this by giving state employees nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. But that only came after the backlash to North Carolina's law, and it leaves workers who aren't employed by the state unprotected by state and local laws.
But it's not just nondiscrimination protections. Again, Bendery in the Huffington Post:
He hasn't just opposed anti-discrimination measures. As the mayor of Charlotte, a post he held from 1995 to 2009, McCrory defended a local YMCA for rejecting a gay man's application for membership. The club turned away local resident Tom Landry in 2006 when he tried to join with his partner and son. Landry wrote to McCrory about it, and he wrote back, "Thank for letting me know about your situation in trying to secure a membership at the YMCA. The YMCA has every right to set their membership criteria, but as you found, Charlotte has many options for health club memberships, including the Jewish Community Center."
McCrory was also no fan of the Charlotte Gay Pride Festival. As the city's mayor in 2005, he said it wasn't appropriate to have the parade in a public place. He suggested the LGBT celebration "belongs in a hotel." That same year, he refused to write a welcome letter to leaders of the Human Rights Campaign when they hosted a large dinner in Charlotte. He said later that he had the right "not to show any visible support" for the LGBT rights group.
The governor has even gone after local theater productions. In 1996, as mayor, he pressured the Charlotte Repertory Theatre to tone down the nudity and gay themes in its production of "Angels in America," the Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the AIDS crisis. "The Pulitzer Prize does not give you license to break the law," McCrory said at the time. The theater had to obtain a court injunction to continue with its show.
These are largely issues that didn't really require McCrory's involvement. Yet time and time again, he got involved anyway to stand on the anti-LGBTQ side.
Again, that rings true for North Carolina's anti-LGBTQ law. There have been no reports of sexual assault or harassment linked to state policies that let transgender people use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. Despite that, McCrory intervened to stop a local law, in Charlotte, that protected LGBTQ people from discrimination and allowed trans people to use the bathroom for their gender identity — because he worried about hypothetical sexual predators disguising themselves as women to sneak into women's bathrooms.
Once again, the governor landed on the anti-LGBTQ side.
So McCrory might say he abhors discrimination. But his record tells a different story.