UPDATED With national news media bearing down on Raleigh on Monday for the Justice Department’s HB2 deadline day, Gov. Pat McCrory was confronted with plenty of interview requests.
He chose a return visit to Fox News, his third time on the network in recent weeks defending his decision to sign into law a bill pre-empting Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance, and PBS News Hour. He was also on National Public Radio programs Monday night and Tuesday morning.
McCrory appeared Monday night on Fox host Greta Van Susteren’s show, where he repeated several themes and emphasized that he thinks the federal government is waging a political campaign against North Carolina. This follows the Justice Department’s announcement that it was suing the state for civil rights violations, which was preceded by McCrory’s own announcement that he was suing to ask the courts to clarify what he contends are unclear laws on gender discrimination.
Here are some highlights:
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▪ “I'm being threatened by the federal government. Transportation funds, housing funds, university funds. It's like big brother is all of a sudden descended upon our state in a very coordinated political way but actually, what the attorney general — what the national media is missing, this is no longer a mandate on North Carolina. They are making bathroom rules for every employer in the United States of America with over 15 employees and telling them that they must allow gender identity to be the new choice of what restroom or shower people use at a place of work.”
▪ “I firmly believe that the federal government does need to deal with this discrimination issue. I think the U.S. Congress needs to further clarify not only sexual orientation being a protected class but we need to figure out what gender identity and gender expression is and the U.S. Congress kind of ignored it and now the Obama administration is interpreting existing law, the word sex has now become not just sexual orientation but also gender identity and gender expression.”
▪ ”We have lost one company — PayPal had a call center in the Charlotte region that they cancelled. By the way, with all due respect to PayPal, they do business in China, in Russia, Sudan, Iran — in fact, they were fined for doing that — where, you know, if someone’s sexual orientation is gay or lesbian, they're killed or they are imprisoned, and this is it, a bathroom rule in North Carolina....”
Update: McCrory also appeared on PBS News Hour host Judy Woodruff’s program, making some of the same points. He stressed that he filed suit to seek judicial clarity over what he considers uncertainty in the civil rights laws.
“It’s a very complex and emotional issue,” the governor said.
Woodruff asked for his response to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s descripton of HB2 as state-sponsored discrimination that harkens to the Jim Crow era, when blacks were denied the full rights of citizenship.
“That’s extremely divisive rhetoric,” McCrory said, adding it was “totally unrelated” to the issue of whether men should be able to use women’s bathrooms or vice versa.
He mentioned that his chief of staff, Thomas Stith, is the son of a civil rights pioneer, and said he and Stith cringed when the attorney general compared HB2 to racial discrimination of the past. “He said, ‘Don’t go there,’” McCrory said of Stith.
“I’m extremely sensitive to people’s gender identity, which is a brand new term in the last several years,” he said when Woodruff asked if he could understand the harm transgender people claim the law imposes.