Discriminatory "Religious Freedom" Bill Blocked in NC House
Advocates for equality scored a major victory yesterday when, under mounting pressure from business leaders, House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters that the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, modeled after the law in Indiana, would not move through the House.
Unfortunately, Speaker Moore did indicate that SB2, the Magistrates 'License to Discriminate' bill did have broad support in the NC House.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina House won't act on a "religious freedom" bill this year that supporters promoted as protecting religious liberties but others criticized as legalizing discrimination against gays and lesbians, Speaker Tim Moore said Thursday.
"For this session, the bill's not going to move," Moore, R-Cleveland, told reporters.
The announcement by Moore, which has followed some hand-wringing among fellow House Republicans over the measure, could help North Carolina avoid for now the level of negative attention received by Indiana when it passed a similar law last month.
But it also may anger social conservatives who worry business owners or individuals may lack a stronger defense for refusing to carry out laws that would burden their ability to follow one's religious beliefs, particularly opposition to gay marriage.
There's an identical "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" in the Senate, where Republicans also in charge haven't completely given up on the measure. But the unwillingness of the House to go along could signal the death of the idea this year. Legislators are expected to adjourn this summer.
Moore said the bill's sponsors raised "some legitimate issues" but also pointed out the state constitution safeguards religious liberties, too.
"I do think it's worthwhile that the General Assembly look at making sure that those protections are there and seeing if there are any deficiencies," Moore said, but added, "that's a process that we can do through the deliberative legislative process over time."
Moore said the sponsors have good intentions, but the reaction to the Indiana law — which prompted threats of boycotts and lost business — led to mischaracterizations of what they were trying to do. The flap "made this bill take on a very different tone than certainly what I believe the bill sponsors wanted it do," he said.
In North Carolina, Democratic lawmakers and big companies with a North Carolina presence such as IBM and American Airlines have opposed the idea. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has questioned the need for it, but he's never said whether he would veto such a bill if it came to his desk.