New email documents obtained by the Charlotte Business Journal (CBJ), reveal that Rep. Dan Bishop, the lead author of North Carolina’s deeply discriminatory HB 2 law, compared LGBTQ people and supporters of equality to the “Taliban” and made numerous other disparaging comments. The documents brought to light a slew of hateful exchanges which reveal the extent to which the lead author of HB2 was motivated by an express desire to discriminate against LGBTQ people at any cost — contrary to what Governor Pat McCrory and other lawmakers have said about the intent of the bill. Furthermore, the new documents were only partial accounts voluntarily released by Rep. Bishop himself, leaving it to speculation what in his other correspondence could be so much worse that he decided against releasing them.
Thus far, Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, and House Speaker Tim Moore have refused to release any of their communications about HB2 or their correspondence with anti-LGBT activists in the lead up to their sneak attack special session on March 23, during which they rammed through the disastrous HB 2 into law and signed it in less than 12 hours.
Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality NC called Bishop’s email correspondence “the tip of the iceberg” and renewed their call on McCrory, Berger and Moore to comply with the law and release their records immediately.
“Rep. Bishop’s deep-seated hatred towards LGBTQ North Carolinians has blinded him to reality, so much so that he is is comparing people who support basic fairness and equality for LGBTQ people to the Taliban,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “These documents are just the tip of the iceberg, and clearly demonstrate that the core goal of this legislation was to discriminate and attack the LGBTQ community. It’s unacceptable that McCrory, Berger, and Moore continue to evade their obligation to transparency, and it seems obvious that they are doing so to avoid the public seeing the despicable nature and motivation of this legislation.”
“As someone who grew up in Rep. Bishop’s district, it’s deeply disturbing to see such blatant animosity from someone who is supposed to represent all constituents in his district, including LGBTQ people,” said Matt Hirschy, Director of Advancement at Equality NC. “Based on these outrageous exchanges, it seems clear that pulling back the curtain on legislators’ true intent will reveal the despicable nature and motivation of this legislation. North Carolinians deserve to know what really motivated Gov. McCrory, Senator Berger, and Speaker Moore to ram through this disastrous legislation. They should immediately release their communications with anti-LGBTQ activists in their plot to pass HB 2 into law.”
According to the documents, a supporter of Rep. Bishop emailed him telling him not to “cave in to the Politically Correct Taliban! Y’all should have all of the sane states to coordinate and pass these bills on the same day so one state does not have to stand up to these pompous asses alone.” Rep. Bishop replied, “I LOVE that idea. Taliban. Love that too. Not giving up. Ever.” The CBJ also revealed that “a separate exchange with another supporter included a declaration by the lawmaker that ‘the LGBT movement jeopardises freedom.’”
Nearly two months have passed since HRC and Equality NC filed their own open records request seeking information from the office of Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, and House Speaker Tim Moore regarding their communications with anti-LGBT activists to pass the disastrous HB 2 into law. Those requests have still gone unanswered, in violation of lawmakers’ obligation to respond in a timely fashion. HRC and Equality NC invoked the North Carolina Public Records Law to gain access to any communications the Governor, the Executive Branch, or the General Assembly had among each other or with the kind of extreme anti-LGBT special interest groups who often craft and push this language. Specifically, the organizations are demanding that the government release any communications legislators or the Governor or his staff have had with the so-called North Carolina Values Coalition or the Alliance Defending Freedom.
HB 2 prevents transgender students in public schools from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in publicly-owned buildings, including in public universities, major airports, and convention centres. HB 2 also eliminates existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. Further, it revoked the ability to sue under state employment non-discrimination law on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, religion, national origin, and sex.
Photo By State of North Carolina [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons