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North Carolina Conservatives Backtrack On Lawmaker ‘Loyalty Pledge’ To Discriminate

North Carolina Family Policy Council President John Rustin CREDIT: WRAL/SCREENSHOT
North Carolina Family Policy Council President John Rustin CREDIT: WRAL/SCREENSHOT

Conservative supporters of HB2, North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBT law, are in damage control this week over a revealing “loyalty pledge” they sent to all state lawmakers, which indicates a naked intent to discriminate against LGBT people.

Keep NC Safe, a coalition of three conservative groups in the state dedicated to opposing transgender equality, sent the pledge to every state lawmaker earlier this week. The pledge’s language, as highlighted by Rep. Darren Jackson (D) on Twitter, asks the legislators to promise never to repeal HB2 nor to “vote for any bill that would add the terms ‘sexual orientation,’ ‘gender identity,’ or ‘gender expression’ to HB2 or any other statute or state policy.”

https://twitter.com/DarrenJNC/status/722586171407220736

On Wednesday afternoon, however, John Rustin of the North Carolina Family Policy Council fired off an email to all lawmakers telling them to just disregard the pledge:

Yesterday evening, we inadvertently sent out a pledge request regarding H.B. 2, the Bathroom Privacy Act. We had considered providing a means, prior to the convening of the 2016 Legislative Session, by which we could continue to encourage North Carolina lawmakers to stay strong in your leadership defending the privacy and safety of all North Carolinians, and clarifying that there is no patchwork of confusing local laws in the state that are harmful to commerce, labor, and trade. However, we decided not to move forward with this pledge and respectfully ask that you disregard yesterday’s e-mail. We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused.

Even without the pledge, the state’s Republican lawmakers have provided plenty of evidence documenting their own discriminatory intent. They’ve launched their own campaign page, Keep NC Kids Safe, which features the following video insisting that it’s “common sense” to keep “grown men” out of women’s restrooms:

Jackson, who has actually pledged to repeal HB 2, highlighted the fact that the exact same “common sense” rhetoric that the Republican leaders and Gov. Pat McCrory (R) have repeatedly used was also used to defend racial segregation. He quoted former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, a staunch advocate for segregation, as having said in 1959, “There’s some people who’ve gone over the state and said, ‘Well, George Wallace has talked too strong about segregation.’ Now let me ask you this: how in the name of common sense can you be too strong about it? You’re either for it or you’re against it. There’s not any middle ground as I know of.”

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Despite the economic and political backlash, the state’s Republican lawmakers have made it clear that their understanding of “common sense” is to side with the conservatives demanding inequality for LGBT people.

The General Assembly reconvenes next week, having previously called a one-day special session to pass HB2.