Cooper has no plans to change McCrory's executive order on bathrooms

Updated: Feb. 13, 2017 at 6:37 PM EST
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RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - Governor Roy Cooper has no plans to change an executive order signed by then-Governor Pat McCrory requiring multiple occupancy restrooms be designed for and used only by people based on their biological sex, a spokesman for the Governor said Monday.

McCrory signed Executive Order 93 in April 2016, in the wake of the passage of House Bill 2, which required individuals to use the bathroom that
corresponded to the gender listed on their birth certificate. The legislation also removed some workplace discrimination protections and, largely, abolished workers' right to sue their employer for discrimination in state court.

The executive order re-affirmed the language in HB2 as it relates to state agencies, specifically required each multiple occupancy-bathroom to be designated for use by men or women and prohibiting people of the opposite biological sex from using those facilities.

EO 93 also added sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's non-discrimination policy.

At the time the executive orders were signed, Cooper - who was then running against McCrory for Governor - said the action did not go far enough in addressing the policies implemented by HB2.

"Governor McCrory's executive order is a day late and a veto short. The sweeping discrimination law he signed has already cost North Carolina hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue. I'm glad Governor McCrory has finally acknowledged the great damage his legislation has done, but he needs to do much more," Cooper said. "The truth is, this executive order doesn't change the fact that HB 2 has written discrimination into the law. Governor, work to repeal HB 2."

The language in EO 93 re-affirming HB2's bathroom language in state facilities was different than the policy that existed at the North Carolina Department of Justice when Cooper was Attorney General.

"HB 2 is in direct conflict with our policy here at the N. C. Department of Justice," Cooper said in a news release issued in late March 2016, after the bill's passage.

Despite that, Cooper's office has not taken any action with respect to the executive order issued by McCrory.

Under the law, Cooper could rescind the order and issue a new directive with different guidelines than those included in McCrory's executive order.

A review of executive orders signed by Cooper since taking office - posted on the Governor's Office website - showed no such action has taken place.

A spokesman was noncommittal on what, if any, action Cooper will take regarding McCrory's EO 93.

"Our office is reviewing all executive orders issued by the previous administration but our most immediate priority to fight discrimination is to repeal HB2," spokesman Ford Porter said by email.

A spokeswoman for Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger called on Cooper to clarify his position on EO 93.

"Based on his previous comments on HB2, we are curious why Gov. Cooper hasn't rescinded this policy and issued his own executive order allowing men into women's restrooms and shower facilities in public schools and in government buildings – like he did at the attorney general's office?" spokeswoman Amy Auth said.

Berger and Cooper have been at odds since the passage of HB2 - both when Cooper as Attorney General and now that he's Governor - over the law.

Cooper has refused to defend the bill and, in fact, has joined a legal challenge of the law. In announcing his opposition to the law last year, Cooper cited the fact that HB2 included provisions that conflicted with personnel policies in both his office at the Department of Justice as well as policies in place by then-Treasurer Janet Cowell's office.

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