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Making North Carolina A Welcoming and Inclusive Place For All

In 2016, HB 2 cast a dark shadow over our state. Not only was it wrong in and of itself, but it cost us jobs. It cost us money. And it cost us our reputation.

When I signed HB 142, I said it wasn’t a perfect solution. But I believe it was an important step forward for our state. And when I signed it I was clear — our work to make North Carolina better for everyone was not finished.

Today, we take the next steps as I put into place the most comprehensive anti-discrimination provisions North Carolina has ever had and I submit a settlement of a lawsuit that can help us put HB2 even further behind us.

It’s not enough to just say we won’t discriminate, we must show it. And today, after working with the business community and the LGBT advocacy community, I’m proud to act on our shared belief that people should not face discrimination or harassment because of who they are.

This executive order will make North Carolina a more welcoming place. It prohibits discrimination in state government — in my office and the cabinet agencies — on the grounds of race, color, ethnicity, sex, National Guard or veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and it requires those doing business with the state through our contracting process to do the same.

With divisiveness, harsh language and extreme partisanship plaguing the country right now, it is important for both businesses and government to send a strong, forceful message — discrimination is wrong.

My ultimate goal is a statewide non-discrimination law with broad protections, and I will keep striving for it. But until we can do that, today’s executive order will have a major impact on the number of North Carolinians who are protected from discrimination.

Some may ask, how much of a difference can this executive order make? Consider this: North Carolina executive agencies employ 55,000 people and contract with more than 3,000 vendors with thousands of employees. This executive order could impact up to $1.5 billion worth of executive agency contracts.

Put another way, this executive order means that North Carolina should not do business with companies that won’t protect their workers from discrimination and harassment.

My administration has taken another step today to move forward from HB 2. We joined a settlement with a group of people who are suing the state and we have submitted to the court a consent decree to resolve that case. For many reasons, it is not in North Carolina’s best interest to remain in drawn-out court battles that linger because of HB 2. As a state, we need to work together to make North Carolina more welcoming, and I am glad that we could come together in this case to show that we agree.

Today’s actions will make our state a more inclusive place and strengthen our economy. These important steps send a positive signal to business, education, and entertainment from all over the country and the world that North Carolina values diversity. That we are a welcoming state. And that discrimination among our people will not be tolerated.

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