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North Carolina Gov. McCrory Attempts to Walk Back Parts of Controversial Anti-LGBT Rights Law

Gov. Pat McCrory reinforced a part of the law that restricts transgender people from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identification.
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North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday attempted to walk back parts of a controversial law that is seen as discriminatory to LGBT people — yet reinforced a provision in the law that restricts transgender people from using the bathroom that aligns with their identification.

McCrory said he's using an executive order to expand government equal employment policies to include sexual orientation and gender.

He also said that he would ask legislators to reinstate the right to sue for discrimination in North Carolina, which was restricted by HB2, the legislation he signed into law last month that overturned many anti-discriminatory practices enforce by local governments in the state.

But McCrory said the portion of the controversial law that says transgender people must use the bathroom that correlates with the gender on their birth certificates in state government buildings and schools will stay intact.

LGBT rights groups were, thus, far from placated.

"It's clear that this is a political ploy from the governor that does absolutely nothing to change or roll back many harms to the LGBT community [impacted by] HB2," said Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union. "Perhaps most concerning about the executive order is that it reinforces the anti-transgender provisions of the law and continues McCrory's campaign to distort the truth about what it means to protect transgender people from discrimination."

Part of the reason why McCrory's executive order fell short, said the Human Rights Campaign's Sarah Warbelow, is that the governor does not have the power to fully repeal HB2 or to implement nondiscrimination protections for LGBT North Carolinians.

HB2 was enacted largely in response to an ordinance in the city of Charlotte that allowed transgender people to use the bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. McCrory on Tuesday once again said Charlotte's legislation was "government overreach."

He said private businesses and local governments could create their own restroom and locker room policies, and the private sector could "establish its own non-discrimination employment policies."

“After listening to people’s feedback for the past several weeks on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina,” said McCrory. “Based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said the executive order was “a day late and a veto short.”

“The truth is, this executive order doesn’t change the fact that HB2 has written discrimination into the law,” he said.

The ACLU said in a statement that the organization isn't satisfied with the executive order and indicated it planned to follow through with a lawsuit challenging the law.

"Gov. McCrory’s actions today are a poor effort to save face after his sweeping attacks on the LGBT community, and they fall far short of correcting the damage done when he signed the harmful House Bill 2 into law which stigmatizes and mandates discrimination against gay and transgender people," said Sarah Preston, the acting executive director of ACLU of North Carolina.

The lawsuit isn't the only push-back the Tar Heel state has seen.

Bruce Springsteen canceled a Greensboro show last week over the legislation, PayPal canceled a scheduled expansion in Charlotte that would have brought 400 jobs to the city and Deutsche Bank did the same on Tuesday, nixing the possibility for 250 new jobs in the state, hours before McCrory signed the executive order.

A flood of other companies and celebrities spoke out against the legislation, threatening to cease business with the state if the law wasn't repealed, and leaders in some other states banned publicly funded travel to North Carolina.

McCrory recently defended HB2, calling backlash over the law "political theater."

Related: Porn Site Blocks North Carolina Visitors Over Controversial LGBT Law

Meanwhile, Jimmy Buffett and Greg Allman said on Tuesday that they would not cancel upcoming shows in North Carolina.

Allman condemned the law, but said he hoped his music "unites people in this challenging time."

"Although we, as a nation, have made progress in many areas, it’s sad and infuriating that some, in 2016, are still working so hard to take the rights away from our brothers and sisters," he said. "We stand in solidarity with the LGBT community urging Gov. McCrory to listen to the people and reverse this wrong."

Buffett said he would also perform two shows in Raleigh and Charlotte next week. "These shows were booked and sold out long before the governor signed that stupid law," Buffet said in a statement.

He said, however, that the potential for future shows in North Carolina would " definitely depend on whether that stupid law is repealed."