In the spirit of taking the good
with the bad
today, we are grateful that House Speaker Tim Moore and the Republican caucus came to their senses: Moore announced in a press conference this afternoon that the House will not take up the Religious Freedom Restoration Act i
n the 2015-2016 legislative session.
(Gov. McCrory is also, probably, very grateful).
We’ve gone over
how the bill would function effectively as a state-sanctioned license to discriminate against the LGBT community, by allowing citizens to object to municipal and county laws they say run counter to their religious beliefs. After the same kind of legislation imploded in Indiana last month when Gov. Mike Pence signed it into law, McCrory took note.
Businesses, including Red Hat, IBM and U.S. Airways, which employ thousands of North Carolina residents, as well as faith leaders and LGBT advocacy groups like Equality North Carolina, vociferously condemned the bill. So did North Carolina voters: activists took 10,000 signed petitions to McCrory’s offices on Monday urging him not to give his signature to the law if it made it to his desk.
And now it won’t go to the Governor’s desk, at least not any time soon, because House leaders seem to have agreed with the Governor: the law makes no sense.
“Today, true North Carolina values of fairness and justice prevailed,” said Chris Sgro, the executive director of Equality NC. “This decision is a testament to the actions of thousands of North Carolinians who made their voices heard over the past few months, who pushed back on the notion that religious freedom should never be used to discriminate.”
But we shouldn’t get too excited just yet.
Senate Bill 2
, which would allow state magistrates
to opt out of performing one of their job duties— marrying couples— based on a stated religious objection, is still on the table, and Moore said something to the effect of "people seem to agree about it" this afternoon.
“We remain focused on continuing to fight a law that would allow public officials to discriminate against same-sex couples, advocating for proposed legislation that would finally provide statewide protections in employment for tens of thousands of LGBT North Carolinians, and fighting to keep our state on the right side of the RFRA debate, and history, in this legislative session and beyond,” Sgro said.