The Gubernatorial Race: Is HB 2 Safe and Will It Remain in Force?
By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
November 18, 2016
Since North Carolina’s gubernatorial race still hangs in the balance, many Christians are asking if HB 2, “the bathroom bill,” is safe and will it remain in force.
Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign and Chris Sgro of Equality N.C., claim the gubernatorial election was a referendum on the new law. In a joint statement released a day after the election, November 9th, the two argue:
“We are confident that once the results are certified, Roy Cooper’s victory will be confirmed. By electing Roy Cooper their next governor, North Carolinians have sent a powerful message across their state and this country that the days of anti-LGBTQ politicians targeting our community for political gain are over. While McCrory may have been surprised by the overwhelming opposition in this state and across the country to his discriminatory politics, the same will not be true for lawmakers who are considering doubling down on anti-LGBTQ extremism in the future. This is a wake-up call.”
But not so fast, says Mark Harris, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Charlotte, who previously ran for both the U.S. Senate and House. Harris told Baptist Press (BP) he believed the outcome of the election “should not affect [H.B. 2] at all.” Harris further told BP that “[s]ome in the media would love to say” the incumbent Governor’s possible loss was due to HB 2, but “the evidence” proves otherwise.
Harris told BP, “If you look at the results of the election, H.B. 2 probably did more to help turn-out conservatives and Christians and help put them over the finish line than hurt anybody in this election.”
Harris, as well as Mecklenburg County commissioner, Jim Puckett, also told BP that they believe McCrory’s support for toll roads in the northern Charlotte area probably cost him tens of thousands of votes.
Speaker pro tempore, Paul “Skip” Stam, said the election results confirm the public’s support for HB 2. “Seventy-one House Republicans voted for HB 2. Two of them lost re-election. But they were replaced by two other Republicans, in one case a pastor from Sanford,” Stam told BP. “No Senator who voted for HB 2 was defeated, notwithstanding millions of dollars spent to defeat them. Republicans increased their supermajority in the assembly by one. The outcome of the election for governor will matter. But no matter who wins the election, HB 2 will not be eviscerated if the Baptists of North Carolina speak up.”
Paul Chesser, founder of CarolinaPlottHound.com, an investigative journalist and opinion writer who now writes for his own blog, The Chesser Files, argues the winner in this election was HB 2. Chesser says:
“Statewide, the governor’s race is up in the air…But regardless, Democrat Roy Cooper wagered heavily on HB 2 repeal and only achieved parity with incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory, who has been battered heavily from Leftist donors and national media over the law. And he wasn’t even a primary instrument of its passage, although he was a solid defender when called upon.”
Chesser also rightly argues that “the most passionate and aggressive proponent of the HB 2 solution to the ridiculous Charlotte ordinance was Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who barely won his race over Democrat Linda Coleman in 2012.” But this time, says Chesser, “he won handily in their rematch, by a 52 percent to 45 percent margin.”
“So bottom line: The Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC’s strategy to bring national pressure on North Carolina lawmakers – with petitions from major corporate CEOs and removal of sports and entertainment events – failed miserably,” says Chesser.
For further proof HB 2 had no significant impact on the election, Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, sited Charlotte Republican Dan Bishop, who was previously in the state House and ran for a seat in the state Senate, winning with 57 percent of the vote.
“For heaven’s sake, Bishop was in many respects the architect and primary defender of the legislation,” said Dr. Creech, “Yet he trounced his opponent. HB 2 didn’t hurt him.”
Creech also said that he wondered in what way “Never Trump” evangelicals may have been a negative factor for McCrory. “Just like they were unwilling to support Trump because they weren’t convinced of his sincerity to keep his promises to aid and assist evangelicals with many of their concerns,” he said, “they may have been half-hearted about supporting McCrory because of some of the mixed messages he has sent.”
Creech sited McCrory’s threat to veto a significant pro-life bill in 2013, his veto of the magistrates’ bill allowing magistrates with a sincere religious objection to opt-out of performing a same-sex marriage ceremony, and his decision to expand the state’s employment policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.
“I am for our Governor and hope his election bid proves to be successful, but throw all this stuff in with the tolls issue and you might have the source for a deficit of votes,” said Dr. Creech.
Dr. Creech further argued that no matter who becomes the Governor it would be presumptuous at best for the Republican controlled North Carolina General Assembly to do anything to change HB 2 when they reconvene in January.
“Despite the arguments of two or three Republicans who jumped ship on the bill, it would be ‘jumping the gun’ to do anything, even if Cooper should come out the winner in this election,” he said.
“The U.S. Supreme Court will consider a Virginia case that involves transgender rights – including their bathroom rights – late summer of 2017.” Creech added. “And that case will have a bearing on HB 2, which incidentally will be decided by a court with a new Justice that’s a Trump appointee. What’s more, we’ll have a new Justice Department that isn’t going to treat this issue like the Obama administration has treated it.”
At this point, HB 2 seems to be safe and most likely to remain in force. The Christian Action League, however, believes supporters of the legislation need to reiterate to their lawmakers, whether incumbent or newly elected, that they strongly support the law and ask them before the 2017 session begins in January, never to amend or repeal it.
“I’ve learned you can’t take anything for granted when it comes to politics,” said Creech. “Matters can turn on a dime. You have to always be vigilant.”