North Carolina Wants To Divert $500K From Disaster Relief To Defend Discriminatory Bathroom Law

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks during a forum in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, June 24, 2016. McCrory will face Attorney General Roy Cooper in November for governor in what could be the most expensive and watched gubernatorial election this year. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/CHUCK BURTON
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks during a forum in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, June 24, 2016. McCrory will face Attorney General Roy Cooper in November for governor in what could be the most expensive and watched gubernatorial election this year. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/CHUCK BURTON

In a move straight out of House of Cards, lawmakers in North Carolina have moved to divert $500,000 from the state’s Emergency Response and Disaster Relief fund and use it instead on defense of the state’s anti-transgender bathroom law, HB2.

The controversial law, which forbids transgender people from using public restrooms matching their gender identity and limits anti-discrimination rules protecting LGBT people, was passed in March and immediately came under national attention. Businesses and events have pulled out of the state in protest, and the Department of Justice informed North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory that the law violated the civil rights act.

In response, McCrory sued the federal government — just one of a number of lawsuits involving the law, including a federal suit against the state and a challenge mounted by transgender NC residents.

NC Governor Makes Desperate, Last-Ditch Effort To Save His State’s Anti-LGBT Bathroom LawJustice by CREDIT: AP Photo/Gerry Broome Last week, the United States Department of Justice informed North Carolina Gov…thinkprogress.orgNorth Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat running against McCrory in the upcoming gubernatorial elections, has refused to defend the law in court, calling it a “national embarrassment” that provides for “broad-based discrimination.” McCrory has been forced to hire outside counsel to defend the law, and according to NC Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Harry Brown (R), McCrory asked for the money from the disaster fund to cover his legal battles. A measure approving the diversion of $500,000 cleared the NC Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, and still must be approved by the House before going to McCrory for signature.

Although it’s arguably never a good time to boost money from disaster relief funding to defend discrimination, with the clearly approaching public health emergency of Zika looming of the United States — and still lacking approved federal emergency funds — McCrory’s request comes at a particularly terrible time.

HB2 has already cost North Carolina more than just emergency funds. Immediately after the law was passed, several cities and states banned government-funded travel to the state, and many companies, including Google, Deutsche Bank, and PayPal, have halted investment in the state or pulled out planned development, costing the state hundreds of jobs.

The most effective form of pressure, though, seems to have been a threat from the NBA to pull the 2017 All-Star game, planned to be held in Charlotte, NC. The NBA said that the law “runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect,” and urged lawmakers to change the law. Commissioner Adam Silver said that in order to keep the game in the city, definitive changes to the law would need to be made by the end of the summer.

If This Is How North Carolina Republicans Think HB2 Can Be Fixed, They’re WrongLGBT by CREDIT: AP Photo/Chuck Burton Pressure from the NBA over where it will hold its All Star Game next year was…thinkprogress.orgLawmakers have drafted legislation adjusting the law; the proposed changes, however, do nothing to address the primary concerns raised by transgender advocates, merely creating a new process for meeting the onerous requirements for transition required by the law. Advocates, including the Human Rights Campaign, have said repeatedly that nothing less than a full repeal of the law will suffice, and while the NBA reiterated its commitment to working with lawmakers to adjust the law, the league said in a statement on Thursday that the proposed changes don’t cut it.

“We have been engaged in dialogue with numerous groups at the city and state levels, but we do not endorse the version of the bill that we understand is currently before the legislature. We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all,” the statement, jointly issued by the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets, read.

Update:

The North Carolina House granted McCrory the money.