As he worked on a compromise to repeal House Bill 2 this spring, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper faced sharp criticism from backers and opponents of the controversial LGBT law, emails obtained this month by the Observer through a public records request show.
The more than 500 pages of emails are comprised largely of constituent messages critical of the compromise legislation but for opposing reasons. The records request included a small number of emails sent by Cooper’s staff but no emails sent personally by the governor.
Cooper’s predecessor, Pat McCrory, signed HB2 into law in March 2016 to nullify a Charlotte ordinance that allowed transgender people to use public restrooms based on their gender identity. HB2 also overrode local ordinances around the state that would have expanded protections for the LGBT community.
Cooper, a Democrat, defeated McCrory, a Charlotte Republican, in the November election and immediately began pushing the legislature to repeal the law, which had caused sports organizations, musicians and corporation to shun the state in protest. By late March, Cooper and the legislature agreed on a replacement law that repealed HB2 and its controversial bathroom provision. But the new law forbids cities from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances until 2020, upsetting LGBT activists.
The emails display the passion the original law – and its replacement – stirred in North Carolina citizens, and the challenge for politicians in reaching a compromise.
“I am 72 years old and a lifelong NC democrat,” a Chapel Hill resident wrote to the governor. “Shame on you for supporting the disgusting replacement for House bill 2. This law gets Republicans off the hook and continues their disdain for human rights.”
On the other end of the spectrum, a Graham resident opposed to the repeal wrote: “You sick, sick man!!!! It is all about money and gays to you. God help you, because I sure would not.”